Why Rear-Facing Car Seats Trump Forward-Facing

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In the UK, your child must have a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 15 months old if you have a height-based seat (also known as an iSize seat) or until they weigh at least 9kg for weight-based seats.

However, consumer groups and safety organisations recommend keeping children in rear-facing seats for as long as possible after they reach these thresholds.

This advice is due to the fact that rear-facing seats are much safer, particularly for young children who are still developing. They provide protection from the most common forms of accident that forward-facing seats cannot. Keep reading to find out more about how rear-facing car seats help keep your children safer when you are travelling around. 

How Rear-Facing Car Seats Protect Your Children

There are four main ways in which rear-facing car seats protect your children:

  • They prevent your children’s heads moving around excessively. This can help prevent many spine and neck injuries. 
  • Your child is less likely to bang their head on surfaces such as car windows. 
  • The pressure from the impact is distributed more evenly across the back, which is the strongest part of an infant’s body. 
  • They act as a protective shield against flying debris from a forward crash. 

This is possible because in a frontal collision, the most common form of crash, anyone facing forwards keeps moving in that direction until the seat belts or straps restrain them. The force of this restraint can cause damage to bodyparts such as a child’s neck and spine, which are not yet fully developed. 

In a rear-facing car seat, children are better supported thanks to the padding and cocoon-like shell the seat provides. 

Which Rear-Facing Car Seat Should I Buy?

When you look for a rear-facing car seat, you want to make sure you pick a model that is tried, tested and recommended by industry experts. In addition, there are a number of practical considerations to make if you are going to keep your child in their rear seat beyond the legal cut-off of 15 months or 9kg.

For example, as your child gets older, putting them into a rear-facing car seat becomes more challenging. One solution to this is to invest in a swivel child car seat, which can act as both forward and rear-facing, as well as turning round to allow you to easily lift the child in before easily turning the seat around to face backwards for the journey. 

With this in mind, one highly recommended swivel rear-facing car seat is Joie i-Spin 360 i-Size. It is a Which? Best Buy and features side impact panels that activate when you tighten the harness, meaning you never forget to engage them before a journey. 

Rear-Facing Car Seat Research

Rear-facing car seat research suggests that they are up to five times more safe than forward-facing equivalents. A survey by Motors.co.uk also looked into attitudes towards car seats and found out that more than half (52%) of parents would buy a rear-facing car seat if they were more readily available in the UK. A massive 43% also said they would urge the government to make rear-facing car seats a necessity up until the age of four. 

Currently, American parents are urged to keep their kids in rear-facing car seats until they are two, with some European countries recommending extending that until four. 

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