K.M. asks from Eureka, CA on April 09, 2010
1 Year Old Car Seat Safety Dilemma - Forward Middle or Rear Facing Side?
My daughter is about to turn 1 year and is 22 lbs. I would like to keep her rear-facing as long as possible, but she has almost outgrown the height of her infant car seat. We have previously purchased a Britax Boulevard. Because we purchased it a year ago no exchange or return is possible at this point. Purchasing a new car is also not an option. The problem is that we cannot fit the Boulevard in our car rear-facing in the middle seat. Our options are to put her forward-facing in the middle of the back seat or to put her rear-facing on the passenger side of the back seat next to the door. We have a small Subaru Impreza, which puts her right up against the door panel. The Boulevard does have True Side Impact protection, which is more protection than some other models, but if we were hit she would take on the full force of the impact. So...I've heard statistically more collisions are forward impact rather than side impact and that it is now recommended that a child be rear-facing up to 2 years. I was leaning towards forward facing in the middle, but with the latest info on holding out til two I just don't know. She has been walking since she was 9 months and is a very strong baby, but I don't know if that makes a difference. OMG...How do I ever decide?
Any info, opinions, statistics, or advice is greatly appreciated!
So What Happened?™
Thank you all for your quick and informative responses!
Just a short clarification: When we initially tested the Britax Boulevard in the middle of the back seat rear-facing, the position of the driver's seat would not allow for to fit. If we push the seat far enough forward for the car seat to fit then my husband and I are too close to the steering wheel in order to drive. The front seats on our Subaru have a strange curve to them that makes it nearly impossible to fit even an infant seat properly. Our infant seat (Graco Snugride 32) has a smaller foot print than the Britax and was the ONLY infant seat (at least locally) that would fit in our car. Thus, as far as I could tell, we would need to put the Boulevard rear-facing on the passenger side and any front passenger would have to sit scrunched or sit in the back. We will try to see if there is a safe recline option that will make the Boulevard car seat fit rear-facing in the middle. I am also trying to find a child car seat safety specialist locally.
UPDATE: We were able to fit the Britax Boulevard in the middle rear-facing! The Boulevard needs to be in the fully reclined position for rear-facing. I believe when we tested it in our car previously it was in the upright position. We will keep our daughter rear-facing until she is at least 2 and probably longer.
C.L. answers from Fresno on April 11, 2010
Rear facing is safer, but I would rather have my kid in the middle facing forward if that is the only way. We waited until 16 months with my 1st child and my 13 month old is already sitting facing forward in the middle. I like that I can see her and the air conditioning can actually get to her now. We have a big SUV so I feel a little safer anyway. With a small car I would maybe ask the CHP for advice.
J.S. answers from San Francisco on April 10, 2010
It is my understanding that rear facing is best (rear ending is a very common thing). I hope you get some links to good info on which side works best. In terms of a car seat fitting, I believe most fire and police stations have someone trained to do this.
D.W. answers from Gainesville on April 09, 2010
Strong baby or no she can not withstand the impact of a forward-facing collision. Google internal decapitation if you need more convincing. Look at the crash test video on this site:
The impact and trauma they experience in a forward-facing position is incredible and difficult to watch.
My daughter is a strong 25lb, almost 22 month old and she will stay rear-facing in her Britax most likely till she is well over 2 since her seat will accommodate up to 35lbs rear-facing.
I agree, rear-facing on passenger side. Statistically, the driver's side is hit more often with side impact crashes.
2 moms found this helpful
I.G. answers from Seattle on April 09, 2010
Same dilemma here, though my daughter was close to 15 months when she outgrew the infant seat.
We are going forward facing in the middle in my car, and left her rear facing in my husbands van, which has more space.
My analysis went like this: side impact collisions have the highest fatality rate among children (something like 40 %) and most older cars (like my 2001 Kia) nor even the highest rated car seats offer REALLY good protection. I also was never able to get a REALLY good snug fit on the convertible without a tether - and those only work forward facing in my car. So I felt traveling forward in the middle was preferable to rear-facing on the side for our Kia.
There is no one size fits all! I correctly installed forward facing seat is safer than an incorrectly installed rear facing one. You have to do what works for your seat and your car.
1 mom found this helpful
E.C. answers from San Francisco on April 10, 2010
Hands down, rear-facing wins out over forward facing - here is a handy list prepared by a certified child passenger safety technician/instructor with numerous references and videos: http://carseatblog.com/?p=5168 . The key issue is the support of the head, neck, and spine that rear facing provides.
As for the installation issues - typically a rear-facing convertible should take up the same amount of front-back space as an infant seat because the convertible can be installed a bit more upright (the 45-degree angle necessary for infants is not required for 1YO's).
http://www.seatcheck.org can help you find a certified tech near you
1 mom found this helpful
J. answers from Chicago on April 09, 2010
can you sit it more upright
i agree with the rear facing
my dd is in a radian in my vehicle middle seat
in my dh's she is in a scenera behind the passenger rear facing
in my inlaws and my mom's in a scenera behind passenger
cannot get good center installs in them and don't think she is big enough to forward face yet
14 months and 20 pounds
A.F. answers from San Francisco on April 10, 2010
If you still wind up with the two choices you note above, I'd go with forward-facing in the middle. As you noted, if on the side she'd take the full force of an impact -- it just makes me nervous to have a car seat so close to the border of a car. If it helps any, our daughter was on the tall side, so we had to put her in her "big girl" carseat at about 10 months, which would only fit forward facing in our car. And honestly at the end of our rear-facing time, her little legs were bent and/or climbing up the seatback -- there was nowhere else for her to put them. If we had an impact while she was in that position, I can't see how her little legs wouldn't have been broken. So that made me feel a little better about turning her forward-facing earlier than prescribed. Good luck, and don't worry too much -- before you can blink she'll be past all the rear-facing parameters anyway. Just my two cents!
R.W. answers from Los Angeles on April 09, 2010
I would put her in the middle. Thats what I did with my daughter I think its better to have them in the middle then right by a door.
T.K. answers from Chico on April 10, 2010
According to the infant child seat laws, I'm pretty sure she can be forward facing once she turns 1yo and is at least 20 lbs. So put her in the back seat and she'll be fine =) Britax makes some of the best seats and that Boulevard is great and good till 65 lbs (I think). So she'll have the 5 point harness for quite a while, or until she's too tall as the straps go over the shoulder on forward facing seats.
T.S. answers from San Francisco on April 10, 2010
Go on craigslist search for a free car seat less then 5 years old!