Thursday, April 28, 2011

Extended Rear-Facing with Photos

A while back, I promised photos of our car seat arrangements. It's been a bit tricky since when the girls are all buckled in their seats they are ready to GO!

We have a 2004 Chevy Venture that seats eight. There are only a few minivans with this seating arrangement. The Pontiac TransSport and Montanas, Chevy Ventures, and Oldsmobile Silhouettes. 2004 or 2005 were the last years for this option. At least that was what we found in 2008 when we bought the van.

Tali and Amanda sit in the second row. Tali's seat uses the LATCH system and Amanda's seat uses a retracting lap-only belt. Tali's seat is an Evenflo Tribute that rear-faces up to 35 lbs. Amanda's seat is a Sunshine Radian that rear-faces up to 45 lbs.

Christiana sits in the middle of the third row using a lap-only belt, the kind with a locking slide buckle. Her seat is also a Sunshine Radian. Tali and Ana's jackets are fleece-lined with a nylon shell. Amanda's jacket is fleece. I cover them with blankets on cold days.
The passenger seat next to Amanda is usually flipped forward, so I life Christiana into the van, climb in and lift Tali into her seat. I can sit in Amanda's seat while buckling her in. Then I sit in the back and buckle Christiana in while Amanda's getting into her seat. She can buckle all of her buckles herself now. Christiana can do the chest clip. After tightening Christiana's, I tighten Amanda's and climb out. I imagine that as Tali gets more stable on her legs, I will put her in her seat last but this has worked for us this winter. I do need to work on remembering to flip that passenger seat back into it's position when I get out.

There is quite a bit of space between Tali's seat and the driver's seat when I drive. When Mike drives, he reclines the seat as far as it will go against her seat. He is sitting a little more upright than he prefers but it's okay. Amanda's seat fits between the driver's and passenger's seat.

Christiana's seat is tight up against the Amanda's vehicle seat. I think I usually install Amanda's seat first. If I recline that middle seat and then install Amanda's seat, when I put the seat back into its upright position, it's even more snug. Then, I install Christiana's seat. I need to twist the buckle several times before inserting the latch otherwise it won't tighten properly. In this position I can use the seat's top tether. It is tethered to the anchor that's located on the back of that middle row center vehicle seat (Amanda's seat). All these details were checked at the car seat clinic and were acceptable.

Of course, the biggest concern for most people when considering extended rear facing, beside space in the vehicle and ease of use, is their baby's long legs. Obviously it looks like Amanda's legs are too long to sit in this position and she can't straighten her legs, but she isn't uncomfortable. Little kids are constantly curled up like pretzels. My girls are always trying to squeeze themselves into tiny boxes. In fact, that most uncomfortable position for them is to sit in a chair that's too big with their feet unsupported, like when they are forward facing in a car seat.

The Radian is well designed so that she can bend her legs or put them off to the sides. I think she would be a little more uncomfortable if she was still in Tali's seat with the raised sides.

Amanda is significantly more comfortable in this reclined position for falling asleep, too. The Christmas before last, Mike took Amanda and the boys up north in his pick-up because the weather was bad. She had to sit forward facing because of the size of the seat in the extended cab. She cried A LOT because she couldn't lean back and fall asleep.
As far as the broken leg argument, I've heard it said, "A broken leg is easier to fix than a broken neck."
As far as the expense...yes, the Radian's are expensive. I was able to get ours for around $215 and it will be the last car seat I will need to buy since it can be used for children 5-80 lbs. For us, it made sense.


jodilee0123 said...

I didn't think her legs looked squished at all...

Jenay will be facing rear for a long time since she is so tiny--she can see the kids behind her so it works out better anyway. I was never quick to turn them forward--didn't seem right to me even before they came out with the new standards. They all will be in the 5-point harnesses for a VERY LONG time! (Well, I have a feeling Jada will graduate out of hers the quickest...she is so big!)

e&e said...

Amanda does look pretty comfortable. Her legs are at a ninety degree angle at the hips and the knees...just like sitting in a chair, only more supported. On long car trips I usually end up curled up or sitting cross legged to get sleepy comfy too.

I see the that for her hair or for comfort?

Mike and Katie said...

It's for her hair. We were trying to keep her looking pretty when we came to visit you! :)

Living with Three Boys of Our Own said...

Thanks so much for posting this! My 2 and 3 year olds are both still rear-facing... and they love it. Four-year-old big bro sits in the back seat and they all have conversations to pass the time in the car. Works perfect!

We too have a Radian... great seat!

Twinkletoes said...

COngrats on needing to add a fourth rear facing carseat! So glad I happened to pop by from MckMama's BlogFrog :)
Anyway - thank you, sincerely, for posting about the extended rear facing. When I talk about it, I swear people look at me like I am from another planet.