April 19, 2013 12:52 pm

Extended Rear-Facing

Wesley is now past three years old and is still rear-facing in our car. Here’s what extended rear-facing looks like in our family:

Extended Rear-Facing

As you can see, he seems to prefer resting his feet on the back of the seat with his legs straight out, rather than crossing them on his lap. He’s never even mentioned leg room, much less complained about it.

Why do we ERF?

A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing. (source)

SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT. If it were, say, six percent, I could see more of an argument to turn the kid around since it wouldn’t make too much difference. But SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT less likely to die or be severely injured? I’m sticking with ERF.


In Sweden, it is standard practice to keep their children rear-facing up to the age of 5, or as much as 55 lbs. From 1992 through June 1997, only 9 children properly restrained rear-facing died in motor vehicle crashes in Sweden, and all of these involved catastrophic crashes with severe intrusion and few other survivors. (source)

While we’re on the topic…

The chest clip should be even with your kid’s armpits.
I see a LOT of photos of kids in carseats where the buckle is at their bellybutton – it should be even with their armpits.

From a Britax FB post:

It looks kind of high, I know, but that’s where it’s supposed to be to keep your kid safe.

Make sure the straps are tight.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that 59% of child harnesses are not tight enough. That’s over half – there are a lot of potentially unsafe kidlets out there! You shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack in the straps.

NHTSA states that, “a snug strap should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child’s flesh or push the child’s body into an un-natural position.”

Don’t put a giant snowsuit on your kid and then put them in a carseat.
This one is especially pertinent given that we live in North Idaho. Big, fluffy snowsuits or jackets are great for keeping your kid warm, but they’re not so great for carseat safety, since the fluffiness will compress in the event of an impact and what seemed like snug carseat straps will not actually be very snug once the fluffiness is compressed.

Kids should be dressed warmly but in thin layers, and then have a blanket (or their coat) placed on top of them once they’re safely buckled in.

More Info

This concludes my Public Service Announcement for the day, but you might want to check out The Picture Guide to Carseat Safety over at The Daily Momtra – it has great images that help illustrate what’s safe and what isn’t.

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  • Jem says:

    I see so many pics online of kids virtually hanging out of their car seats because of slack straps and heavy coats, it drives me insane. But of course if I say anythig I’M the bad guy for sticking my nose in. Grrr.

  • Scarlet says:

    When Keenan was a baby, there was no such thing as extended rear facing (at least that I was ever told about). I remember being very excited about switching him when he turned one…. With Aaron we got a car seat that allows rear facing to 45 lbs and switching him is not anywhere on the horizon.