Car Seat Rear-facing Safety Advice Needed

Updated on May 19, 2008
E.S. asks from Laguna Niguel, CA
8 answers

Hi folks,

My son is 15.5 months old and I plan to keep him rear-facing until he reaches the rear-facing weight limit for his seat (or three years old, whichever comes first). I just took the seat out to clean it and while putting it back in realized that it is not level with the ground. The only way I can accomplish that is by raising the front of it somehow. Is it safe to put something like rolled blankets under there or are there specific products sold to do this properly?

Oh, and the car seat is an Eddie Bauer Alpha Omega Elite Deluxe 3-in-1.

Thank you!

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you for everyone's advice. I plan to go to the Fire Department to make sure it is installed properly. Right now it doesn't move much, but I was concerned with the level thing since it said in the manual that it must be level in the rear-facing direction. It didn't mention if being able to hold their head up negated that as one mom mentioned to me in a private message, so I'd feel more comfortable checking with the Fire Department.

Also, for anyone who hasn't read this information before, here is some information I received from a friend which convinced me to keep my son rear-facing as long as possible:


Rear Facing is the Safest Way to Travel
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing for as long as possible (to the limits of a convertible seat) for the best protection, which would be to 30-35 lbs. OR when the head is 1-inch from the top of the carseat.

According to NHTSA, a rear-facing car seat is 71 percent safer than no restraint at all, and a forward-facing car seat is 54 percent safer than no restraint at all.

When a child is forward-facing, there is a lot of stress put on his/her neck in a crash. The weight of a child's head in a crash causes the spinal column to stretch...the spinal cord, however, is NOT meant to stretch! This can cause a tear...which means paralysis or even death. This is referred to as "internal
decapitation"...the child's head would be slumped forward and it would look as though he/she was sleeping. It doesn't matter if the child has great head control...that means nothing. New data is showing that a forward-facing child is 4 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than a rear-facing child of the
same age. (note: having a carseat that allows tethering RFing reduces this risk (only two brands on the market currently allow this feature, Britax and Sunshine kids). New carseats can almost always can be tethered FFing which reduces head excursion in an
accident. Even older cars can be retrofitted to add Top Tether Anchors)

Rear-facing seats do such a great job of protecting children because the back of the carseat absorbs the crash forces. The child's head, neck, and spine are kept in alignment, allowing the carseat to absorb the forces. The child's head is also kept
contained in the carseat, decreasing the risk of coming into contact with projectiles.

More Rear Facing Information
1) rear-end collisions are less frequent than front-end collisions
2) rear-end collisions statistically occur at much lower impact speeds than front-end collisions
3) side impact collisions are less dangerous when RFing because of the way the carseat rotates in a side-impact collision.
4.) A forward-facing child under 2 years old is 4 times MORE likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash and that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing for as long as possible for the best protection and that there has never been a single reported case of hip/leg/foot injury from rear-facing.
5.)What about big babies? A 95th percentile baby may look stronger than his 5th percentile friend, but in a crash the bigger baby is likely MORE at risk if he's riding forward-facing. The rigidity of bones and the strength of ligaments in the
spine is likely the same in children of the same age, no matter their size. And a 95th percentile baby likely has a much larger, heavier head, which will pull forward which much more force than that of a 5th percentile child., You can see that a child's head is a fourth of their body as a baby and you can also see how the bones calcify and harden as they get older.
6.) Many parents in the US think it's "weird" to have a 2 year old rear-facing--most children are switched to forward-facing around their first birthday. But if you lived in Sweden, the idea of a 2 year old FORWARD-facing would be "weird," as they keep kids rear-facing until the ages of 3 or 5. In Sweden, children go straight from rear-facing seats to booster seats! Because kids sit rear-facing for so long, fewer than 1 child a year dies in a rear-facing car seat in Sweden. If we also kept more kids rear-facing, we would not only see fewer deaths, but also fewer
injuries--especially the really hard to fix ones like those to the spinal cord and head.

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

A friend of mine does research for carseat copanies, she is independent. She trains Highway patrol officers all over the country,and when she installed my first carseat, she used a rolled up blanket, The recommendation is not to use anything inside the carseat to fit the child. Carseat companies also recommend items for things to keep the seat from sliding on vinyl or leather seats.

More Answers



answers from San Diego on

Infants need to be rear-facing until they are 20 lbs AND 1 year. Mine did not get to 20 lbs until they were 18 months. We also had ours installed by the Fire Dept and they recommended a pool noodle.



answers from Los Angeles on

First off, The Highway patrol will install the carseat properly for you. Someone mentioned earlier that they put blankets and pool noodles, when I went, I asked about that, and they said they do not reccomend anything at all. They were able to make it work with My Eddie bauer Alpha Omega seat with out the noodle or anything. They pulled the recline thing, the tethered the seat in, then seat belted it in with the clip thing. I have gone there with all of my kids to get the carseats fit in properly. And for the first little while when I took them out, I would go and get them double checked to make sure I installed it right again. I have 3 carseats in my car, all (2 of the eddie Bauer ones) have been installed by the CHP. Good Luck!



answers from San Diego on

Hi E.. at 15 months old he does not need a rear facing car seat, and I would not put anything under it to balance, that is not using it accornding to the regulations, what i would do is get him another car set. J.



answers from Los Angeles on

When my seat needed to be tweaked a bit, the CHP on one occasion used a swimming pool noodle (they cut them to fit) the second time around, they used my beach towel. So, I'd say yes.

Also - good for you on keeping your little guy rear facing for as long as possible!




answers from Los Angeles on

Yes- it is safe to put a rolled blanket or towel under the part closest to the rear or the car. (So the side of the safety seat that touches the back of the car seat.) I believe they also make little foam thingies that can be put there. Just be sure (as I'm sure you are) to use every safety seat restraint possible. (I.e. LATCH, Tether, seat belt.) The more points of the seat that are "locked in place" the less chance of something failing in the case of an accident.



answers from Los Angeles on

I'm almost positive the time limit for rear-facing seat is one year, not three. Read your manual.

Next question: NEED ADVICE ON BUYING A Convertible CAR SEAT