Misconceptions about rear facing car seats and how to reply to them

BeSafe has been producing and promoting rear facing child car seats for over 25 years now, and still there are a lot of myths or misconceptions out there about keeping children rear facing over the age of 15 months. In this article we have collected the most common myths and help you answering them.

“My child has such long legs that it would sit uncomfortably”

Have you seen that children can have their legs in any sorts of weird positions when playing? Children are much more flexible than parents and thus often do not mind sitting with their legs bent or crossed, and even prefer to do so. It is often us parents who think that it looks uncomfortable, just because it is uncomfortable for us adults.

Tip! If your child actually complains about the leg room, we recommend to take frequent breaks during longer journeys so that they can stretch out their legs and get rid of some energy at the same time.

Misconceptions about rear facing car seats

“We’re having two cars and cannot afford buying two expensive car seats”

BeSafe’s newest concept – the iZi Modular – allows you to use the same car seat in several cars. You only need to buy an additional ISOfix base to install in your second car and can then easily switch the same seat between the cars in no time at all.

Misconceptions about rear facing car seats

“We’re only going on short journeys with our car, so it feels unnecessary…”

Unfortunately, short distances do not necessarily mean that they bear less risk of having a car accident, as most accidents occur in urban areas. Even at accident speeds of only 30 km/h, extremely high forces are put on the child car seat and the child. If the child is placed forward facing, those forces are mainly affecting the head and neck area when the child is being pushed out of the seat, whereas a rear facing car seat absorbs most of the forces when the child is being pushed into the seat.

“My child could not see me and thus would feel uncomfortable”

Smart accessories like a baby mirror allows you and your child to see each other during the whole journey and you can always keep an eye on your little one to make sure that they’re comfortable and happy.

Misconceptions about rear facing car seats

“My child’s shoes would touch the car’s rear seat, so that it would get dirty” / “I do not want the front brace to leave any indentations on my rear bench seats”

Placing a protective cover here can solve both problems at once: it protects the car seat from any dirt and also functions as a soft layer that prevents indentations.

Misconceptions about rear facing car seats

“My child could not see anything when rear facing and would get bored”

Rear facing children usually see much more than we expect. The high sitting position in a rear facing seat allows them to see through both the side and rear windows at the same time. Removing the head rests of the rear seats gives them an even wider visual field.

Misconceptions about rear facing car seats

“My child would complain about travelling rear facing, as a lot of other children travel forward facing”

When changing from a baby carrier, your child actually knows nothing but travelling rear facing. From talks with parents we have learned that most of their children actually understand why they are travelling rear facing when the parents explain it to them in a way that is suitable for children. Safety should always go first and we encourage you to explain this to your children of course.

“I understand that rear facing is five times safer in a frontal crash, but what about rear impacts?”

Besides rear impacts being statistically a much more infrequent source of serious injuries than frontal crashes, there are also some physical aspects to consider. When travelling rear facing, the child sits further away from the point of impact in a rear crash, so that a longer crumple zone is provided even in cars with a small boot. Additionally, significantly less forces come into play in a rear collision, as both vehicles are moving in the same direction, so that the forces are spread on both cars equally. In contrast, in a frontal impact both vehicles are stopped from their speed to zero in an instant.

Misconceptions about rear facing car seats

“Won’t my child get sick when travelling rear facing?”

Travel sickness is caused when a person’s sense of balance registers a mis-match between the motion sensed by the eyes and the stillness of the body. Some people are naturally more sensitive regarding this than others and it is often that adults who get sick when travelling rear facing (in a train or bus) are also more sensitive towards motion sickness in general, sitting rear facing only enhances it for them.

A child’s sense of balance however is not fully developed yet in their toddler years, so that direction-related travel sickness typically only occurs around the age of 4-6 years if at all.

Getting sick inside a car can have many other reasons for children. It is often also related to the angle/position they’re sitting in, what they have eaten just before getting buckled up or sometimes even the smells inside the car. For some children the ability of seeing much more things through the windows when moving up from their baby car seat can cause a sensory overload, as objects seen through the side windows are flying by very fast. Covering the side windows with a light cloth for a short while can often help the children to gradually get used to all the new stimuli.

Misconceptions about rear facing car seats

“Our car is too small for a big rear facing car seat”

Many rear facing child car seats can be installed with varying leg space, so that they allow for a very compact installation. Thereby, they often don’t take up more space than needed with a forward facing car seat, since forward facing seats should ideally also have 55 cm space between the child’s nose and the vehicle seat in front. This recommended distance stems from the regulation’s permitted amount of forward displacement and thereby ensures that the child would not hit the front vehicle seat in an accident.

In this gallery you can see some examples of rear facing car seats installed in some of the smaller cars on the market like the Volkswagen Polo, Audi A1, Volkswagen Up or Skoda Citigo.