Child car seats normally come with a 5 point harness to secure the child into their seat. Some rear facing infant seats come with a 3 point harness. The job of the harness is restrain the child in an impact.
When forward facing, the harness spreads the force of an impact in 5 directions - across the shoulders, past the hips and through the crotch strap. It is very important that a child rear faces for as long as possible, as when they are forward facing they are restrained by the harness, but their head continues with the forward momentum. This puts stress and pressure on the neck that can result in serious injury or death.
By being rear facing, the 5 point harness still restrains the child, and in an impact they are pushed back into the child restraint, which spreads the force of an impact through the back of the child car seat and supports the child's head, neck and spine. This is the reason it is so important to keep your child in their rear facing child seat until they have reached the weight limit, or the height limit. Rear facing offers maximum protection and safety for your little one. If you are unsure what the rear facing limit is on your seat, check the child seat manual or ask the child seat manufacturer. The below chart also provides some guidelines:
An alternative to the 5 point harness is an impact shield style child restraint, which we will explore in a future post.
My baby is about 9 months old, so which option would be best for him 0 or 1. There is confusion between these two options.
The most suitable child restraint is determined by your child's weight, and then if they fit in the seat. There is a crossover on the weight ranges between restraints, with group 0+ (infant carrier) being outgrown at 13kg, yet you can use a group 1 seat from 9kg. The lower weight limit for the next stage seat is to accomodate a child who has outgrown the group 0+ infant seat by height, before reaching the maximum weight limit. The outgrown height is the top of head level with the top of the seat.
A group 0+1 child seat is a seat that does both backwards and forward facing - it combines the two stages. The best option for your child is a restraint that fits your car and is fitted and used correctly. They are also safest travelling rear facing, as this provides the best protection in an impact.
If you have any other questions don't hesitate to ask
I understand that eventually a child has to sit in a forward facing seat however would you agree that the back seats are the safest? I've seen a few cars with their toddlers strapped in but in the front. surely that isn't the best idea is it?
Hi Thomas, yes we agree that the rear seats of a vehicle are safer for a child. When in the front there are the risks posed by the airbag, and the child is also closer to the force of an impact. Good Egg Safety recommends having children travel in the back of the car.
You don’t have to turn your child forward facing however, there are group 1 and group 1, 2 car seats available, that will keep a child rear facing up to 4 or even 6 years old. In the past, these seats have been difficult to find, however they are becoming increasingly popular with many retailers now stocking them. If you contact your local retailer, they may have some for you to try in your vehicle.
I disagree with the comment on the front seat being less safe than the rear. Simply not true. Hence why you can get extended rear facing seats that brace up against the dash (the safest and strongest part of the car). I'd double check the detail with http://www.carseat.se/are-car-seats-in-front-seat-safe/ who state that the front seat (bag deactivated) is as safe if not safer than the rear).
That’s a great article, thanks for the link. We will be producing a blog on the safest positioning in the car which we will publish in the coming weeks, that addresses each seating position. When forward facing, the back seats are safer than the front seat.
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