To answer this question, I turned to Jose Ucles, NHTSA’s spokesman. Most youngsters who ride in rear-facing car seats for a longer time simply tend to cross their legs in order to fit, Ucles said. As parents, “our main concern should be that the neck, head and spine of our child is protected because it’s most delicate until age 3,” he said. Comfort should come second to safety.
Would a larger child’s legs be harmed in a car accident when sitting in a rear-facing car seat? “NHTSA has not had any reported incidents of children’s legs being injured while in a rear-facing infant seat,” Ucles said.
Ucles and I agree on a very important point. The biggest challenge with this new recommendation is in training parents to be parents rather than giving in to whining and graduating kids into the next child-safety-seat position earlier than is safe for them.
“As the parent, you’re in charge. You’re the guardian of that precious life and as such, you need to set the regulation that your kids stays rear-facing as long as they fit within the upper height and weight limits on their child-safety seat,” he said.
Ucles’ suggestions for keeping kids comfortable and happy when in a rear-facing car seat are:
-Give your child a favorite stuffed toy to play with, preferably one that attaches the child-safety seat so they can’t drop it and then distract the driver by wanting it back.
-Play soothing music in the car to keep moods calm and relaxed.
-Talk to your friends about what works for them and try their suggestions.
On that great note, use the comment section below to post your own tried-and-true tips for keeping your little one content longer in a rear-facing car seat. Help a mama out!