Car seats are a huge minefield. There are so many car seat decisions – I-size, rear-facing, isofix… Some cheap, some very expensive, some colourful, some forward facing only, some rear facing only! The list of features goes on, but what I want to know is what’s the safest. What is I-size and why is rear-facing safer? Which will protect my baby, my precious little girl the most?
Here are the options as I see it…
You may wonder what’s so fab about isofix, why not just use the seatbelt?
What is Isofix?
Isofix attaches the car seat onto the car’s chassis, and it’s much less likely to be installed incorrectly. We tried our Maxi-Cosi Pebble with just the seatbelt and were shocked at how wobbly it appeared. It was also such a faff. Isofix is the safest option, it feels solid, and all we want is to keep our little baby safe. So isofix won. Yes it costs more, but if you can afford it, or compromise somewhere else then, put safety first, and isofix is by clear a worthwhile option.
Why is it hard to install isofix incorrectly?
On our Maxi-Cosi Family Fix base there are coloured lights which tell you when you’ve met all the criteria and it’s all installed correctly – the isofix points connected, the post is down correctly, and the car seat has been clicked in properly. I believe some other isofix bases and those by other manufacturers may have similar features, but don’t hold me to that! It’s a very useful feature though, and Maxi-Cosi have done it very nicely.
I-size looks set to?become regulation in 2017 or 2018 (I’ve read both but I can’t seem to see a confirmed date!), but what everyone wants to know is what is i-size?
I-size?car seats can fit in i-size compliant cars, these cars have isofix points and are listed by the manufacturer of the car seat as fitting that car.
What are I-size car seats:?
- They use the child’s height instead of weight to determine fit – so it’s easy to know if your little one has outgrown their car seat
- Must be used rear-facing until little one is 15 months old
- Have additional safety measures including :
- Isofix – a safety mechanism which means the car seat is less likely to be installed incorrectly
- Additional safety testing including extra side impact protection
All the major manufacturers have I-size seats now and I’m sure the range will only increase with time. I hope the price of them comes down too, as they do seem to be more expensive, which is a shame given very soon most?car seats will be I-size.
This all makes sense to me, but I’m also confused. Yes,?i-size will be a regulation, but not all cars have isofix so seat belt car seats will still be made and used. Several car seats I’ve seen do rear-facing much longer than 15 months, and say they have side impact protection, but aren’t i-siize because they’re older. I really struggle with i-size because I really think if regulations are to specify car seats be used rear-facing for longer, they should be rear facing for longer than 15 months.
Rear or forward facing?
As part of I-size, rear facing will become compulsory until 15 months. However, regardless of i-size, given the statistics I have seen, I would be keeping H rear-facing anyway. Actually, she’s 14.5 months now and still rear facing in her Pebble. We plan to keep her rear facing as long as possible, much longer than 15 months. Apparently it’s five times safer for a child to be rear facing than forward facing (according to http://www.rearfacing.co.uk/facts.php)! Well that’s a statistic I can’t argue with!
I also can’t argue the fact that rear facing is standard in Scandinavian?countries until age 4 and in those countries there are a much lower number of children injured or killed in car accidents. e.g. between July 2006 and November 2007, no children under 6 were killed in a car crash in Sweden, in the UK, 21 are killed every year (and 205 injured) (http://www.rearfacing.co.uk/facts.php)
I completely believe this, however, I also read this article in The Economist, which tells a fuller story of Sweden’s road safety policies and their population as a whole. Car seats are not the only reason for their amazing?road safety statistics.
What about the ‘science’ and medical reasoning reasoning for rear-facing?
When in a crash while travelling forward, the car rapidly slows, but our heads can’t keep up with the sudden change in forces. As our head isn’t restrained by the seatbelt (or harness in the case of a little one) it keeps going forward, resulting in injuries like whiplash. Now, in an adult, our bones are quite hard and deal with this trauma much better than babies and toddlers, who’s bones are quite soft. Our bones break, so if a seatbelt crushes into them you might have some broken ribs, but your vital organs thy are protecting, are more likely to be fine. A little ones’ bones are not fully hardened til 2+. So, in a crash, if baby/toddler is front facing, it is up to their soft bones to protect them. Their neck and spine to stretch to with the forces that are acting, and to try to keep their head under control and not cause injuries; their ribs, which are much softer, to protect their precious organs. ?A little one’s head makes up a much higher proportion of their overall size and weight than ours which doesn’t help the matter.
If rear-facing, the little one’s head keeps travelling backwards into the car seat headrest which absorbs the forces, meaning little one’s head remains fully supported through the most dangerous part of the crash. It will then move forward to an extent, but without such an intense force.
In a forward facing seat the neck is subjected to a force equivalent to 300-320kg, while in a rear facing seat, the force on the neck is equivalent to 50kg. (quoted from?http://www.rearfacing.co.uk/facts.php)?
Scandinavian children are rear facing until they are 4?5 years old (25kg or 55lbs), which has resulted in a much lower number of children injured or dead in car accidents compared with other countries, as for instance the UK.
Well this is where we hit some problems, we bought the Maxi-Cosi Family Fix base (this one) and the?Maxi-Cosi Pebble Group 0+ Car Seat?before H was born, both of which we have loved. We meant to buy the 2-Way-Family-Fix base so we could then let H be rear-facing until 105cm by buying the 2-Way Pearl as her next seat. However, I think we should cut our losses, and keep H rear-facing as long as possible. Safety wins!
The stats I have seen indicate rear-facing is so much safer.
Why we’re choosing rear facing:
- five times safer
- Toddler H has only ever faced the back, so she doesn’t know any different
- The rear facing seats seem to have quite a bit of room
- If Sweden and other European countries can do it, why don’t we? Why don’t we embrace this safer option? Why have we held back? Why have these stats not been shared with us before?
The lovely Laura at Laura’s Lovely Blog wrote a post last summer on i-size and rear-facing which covers some of what I’ve written here, but please check it out too to see why her chosen car seat is the Maxi-Cosi 2-Way Pearl – check Laura’s post out here!
What do you think of rear facing car seats for toddlers?
Disclaimer: I have listed my sources, and where not listed this is based on my opinion. I am not medically trained or an expert in this matter or matters of the law, so please research this yourself and seek your own expert opinions before making any choices.?