Rearward facing car seats

Why is rearward facing so important?

At Britax, we believe that children should travel rear-facing for as long as possible – ideally until they are at least two years old and their developing neck muscles have grown stronger.

Babies have disproportionally large and heavy heads in comparison to the rest of their body. Their neck bones are not yet fully developed and the ligaments are stretchy. This is also why you always have to support the head when holding a baby in your arms.

If your baby is travelling facing forward and you experience a frontal collision (the most common and severe crash of all), the baby’s core will be held back by the seat’s harness, but the rest of the body shoots forward. For the legs and arms this is not a big problem, but the fragile neck gets a severe strain. The head is too big and the neck muscles too weak to cope with such a force. Older children and adults will recover from this because their body is stronger. But a baby’s neck is still soft and underdeveloped, the whole spinal cord can be torn. It’s like yanking an electrical plug out of the socket by it’s cord, snapping the wires inside.

Baby in Dualfix car seat rearward facing on backseat of a car

In contrast, when a baby rides facing rearward, the whole body (head, neck, and torso) is cocooned by the back of the safety seat. The baby will still move forward, but will now be protected by the soft, cushioned inside of the seat, while the collision force can spread out all along the hard outside back of the seat instead.

  

 

“But then I can’t see my child when I’m driving”

As a parent you will always want to be able to keep an eye on your little one, simply because you have to. When your baby is in a rearward facing car seat, you won’t be able to see them. Luckily there are solutions for that.

Have your partner or any other second person in the car sit next to your baby on the back seat. This way they can always keep an eye on your baby.

Mother driving in a car and looking in the rearview mirror to see her little baby in a rearward facing car seat.If there’s nobody there to go on a ride with you, then you can also install a back seat mirror. Angle it just right and you can always see your little one from your own rearview mirror. Do however make sure the back seat mirror is of soft plastic and unbreakable glass. It should never turn into an extra possible danger when you are in a collision.

In any case, we believe that a less exciting view, for either your baby or yourself, is a small compromise if it provides for a safer ride.

Rearward facing till what age?

There is no hard age standard to say when you should switch your child to a forward facing car seat. However, look at the car seat information instead. The sticker on the seat will mention height and/or weight limitation. When your child has reached either one of those limits it’s time to change seats. Don’t rush this “promotion” though, because every upgrade to a new seat means a reduction in the protection. The final stage is after all to sit in a car wearing only the car seat belt.  

Types of Rear-Facing Seats:

There are multiple types of rear-facing safety seats on the market. Britax India has two:  

Rear-facing–only

Father clicks the Britax Baby-Safe Infant Carrier on the base in the backseat of a car.This is the infant carrier. It is a specially designed car seat for newborns up till 13 kg. That means the car seat can be used immediately the day your baby was born, on the drive home from the hospital. In fact, in many countries this is even dictated by law. Hospital staff will walk together with the new parents to the car and they are only allowed to drive home once the staff has checked correct installation of the infant carrier in the car.

Other features of the infant carrier:

  • Infant carriers are small, light and have a carrying handle. Easy for moving your baby around without waking him up.
  • Infant carriers are installed in the car on a special base. This base remains fixed in the car, while the infant carrier just clicks on and off as you need it. Parents can buy multiple bases for multiple cars, guaranteeing a correct installation everywhere they go.
  • Infant carriers can be mounted onto strollers, turning them into convenient, multifunctional travel systems.
  • Infant carriers are intended for newborns only, supporting the baby up till 13 kgs. After that the infant carriers should be replaced by a new car seat.

Convertible seats

  • Convertible seats are rearward facing as well as forward facing. They can rotate 360 degrees on their base. This means you can use the car seat for rearward facing first, and when your baby has reached the rearward limitations, you rotate the seat forward and your baby can continue using it till those limitations are reached as well.
  • Convertible seats are bulkier and heavier than infant carriers. The base is attached to the seat itself, meaning you won’t move the seat around a lot after installing it in your car.
  • Because of the rotating function, you can use the seat for a longer time, making it possible to stretch the investment for the seat over a longer time.

Mother strapping her baby in the Britax Dualfix car seat which is 90 degrees angled for easy access.

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