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Are rear facing baby car seats really safer than forward facing?

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Everyone tells me that our baby should be in a rear facing car seat until she is two years old.

As of 2011, the the American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation says:

“Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires children to use a rear-facing car seat until the child weighs at least 9 kg (20 lb.).

It’s best to keep your child in a rear-facing child car seat until they reach the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight and height limits. Some rear-facing car seats are made for children that weigh up to 20 kg (45 lb.)

Why use a rear facing car seat? The Ministry of Transportation says, “A rear-facing car seat will support your baby’s neck in a sudden stop or crash.”

Okay, that sounds like a really good reason. But, there is a big difference between was the AAP says (2 years) and what the Ministry says (20 pounds).

I am not disagreeing with the AAP, but I am questioning them.

I find that the rear facing car seat, when placed on the passenger side of the car (so you can monitor your baby) can create a giant blind spot in your car.

The Clek Foonf in an Audi Q5

In the image above you can see the blind spot from the drivers seat of an Audi Q5 with the Cleck Foonf installed.

So, like any normal concerned parent should, I used Google to see if there was any studies looking specifically at increased car crashes and baby injuries with cars having a rear-facing car seat. I found nothing.

Top Google results for “Rear Facing Car Seat”

So, like any normal concerned parent should, I tweeted the APP:

Not surprisingly, I did not get a response.

Luckily for our family, our cars have Blind Spot Sensors built in, so we are notified when we are changing lanes if there is someone in our blind spots.

So, the question is: does having a giant blind spot outweigh the benefits of a rear-facing car seat?

Here are some alternatives to get rid of that blind spot:

  • Put the rear facing car seat  behind the driver: This can cause two issues. 1) It’s much harder to monitor your baby, because you can’t see them or access them; and, 2) you might have to push forward your driver seat so much that you cant drive properly.
  • Put the rear facing car seat in the centre spot. This is a good option if you don’t need large space in your rear, and it will probably also make you move your driver seat far forward, and you’ll have a hard time seeing your baby and accessing them.
  • Get blind spot mirrors installed on your rear mirrors.
  • Be extra aware when driving.

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