Friday, March 18, 2011

Extended Rear-Facing

I started this post last week but it seems timely considering the news of the AAP recommendations to keep kids rear-facing at least until age two.

Last Tuesday, we went to a carseat clinic after naptime. I scheduled the appointment on Monday and then thought better of it. How in the world was I going to manage three little girls with strangers crawling all over our van? I went anyways and hoped for the best. I again brought those magic o's. The girls were pretty upset when the carseat technicians began peeking in the van and inspecting them in their seats. I figured as some point there would be so much crying I wouldn't be able to hear a word from the instructors. However, once I got out their stroller and set them up with snacks they were mostly content.

Amanda kept tattling on them. "Somebody broke my carseat! No, they can't look at it!"

The main instructor was pretty impressed to see that Amanda was still rear-facing. He asked me where I had been educated about the benefits of extended rear-facing. I told him I had read about the Kyle David Miller Foundation online and had heard about the videos about what happens to a young child's head and spine during a crash. I can't remember the exact title of his job, but he deals with the aftermath of vehicle accidents and has seen first hand what happens in a crash. That's why he became involved in the car seat clinics. He says he doesn't let kids under two years of age leave the clinics forward-facing.

He also said our Radians were the first ones he had seen and wondered where we got them. We got them from Baby Catalog for $215 and $209 with the discounts that show up when you add the seat to your cart. With the addition of children to our family, we needed to buy carseats anyways. So, I chose ones that would keep them rear-facing the longest and with keep them in a harness until they are 80 lbs. These are the last seats I should have to buy for them.

Now, I was thinking that they were going to make sure our carseats were installed properly, i.e. install them for me. Not so! After asking questions and giving suggestions, they had me reinstall the seats. Thankfully, the girls were being so good so it wasn't a problem. One of the ladies asked if they were "always this good." Ha, ha! Of course not!

Things I learned:

-It's not good to put a towel under the carseat "to protect the upholstery." Friction between the seat and the carseat help keep it secure.

-I can install the seat tight enough. I always worried about them moving too much. But it says there shouldn't be more than one inch of movement on the belt path when you tug "lightly" on the carseat. I missed the "lightly" part.

-A small stuffed animal would be a better choice of entertainment than a board book. And items like diaper bags should be stored in the back or on the floor.

-The top tether straps should only be used until 40 lbs in my van and 60 lbs in Mike's truck.

-Those new DVD players that Mike bought that are supposed to strap on the seat backs are not tested to be safe and there's no guarantee that they will stay secure in a vehicle. And since most crashes are front impact, the DVD player would fly right into the rear-facing child's face. Yikes! Mike actually bought the players for the boys when they travel in his truck. The van has a factory DVD but of course the girls can't see it. It's a good thing I have so many books memorized to recite while we're in the car. :)

All in all is was a good experience. I receive the reassurance I needed that I had translated the information I had read in the booklets and online into appropriate installations. I still hope and pray those installations will truly be put to the test, however.


Tammy said...

Thank you for this post. I am going to turn my one year olds back to rear facing. Your babies are beautiful.

JCF said...

Thanks for this. I need to take my seats in to be checked, since we've reconfigured our three seats and gotten a new one since the last time. We ERF too, and I'm curious to know what kind of vehicle you have and what kind of seat Amanda is in (and how you have them arranged!) We have a Honda Odyssey (an older one), and we could not for the life of us figure out how to fit a rear facing convertible seat in the third row. Thus, our oldest was turned FF at 3 years when our third baby was born. I'd love to have him RF if possible, but I just don't know how!