Rear-Facing Car Seat Buying Guide

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What is a Rear-Facing Car Seat?

A Rear-Facing car seat, also known as infant car seat, is a portable safety seat consisting of a base and a shell like infant carrier into which your baby can be secured. When compared to leaving your infant unrestrained, these car seats reduce the risk of death/ injury to your baby by almost 90%.

Why Should I Choose a Rear-Facing Car Seat?

A newborn’s joints and spinal cord are very delicate and are at risk while travelling. A Rear-Facing car seat not only secures these joints, but also provides enhanced protection for your baby’s head, neck and spine, which are not firm as yet. The Rear-Facing car seat shields the baby from any direct impact. In the event of a collision, the shell shaped interior absorbs the energy of the impact and the integral harness keeps the baby snuggled, as compared to a forward-facing car seat. For this reason, experts recommend Rear-Facing car seats for as long as possible, that is, until the child is able to sit on own or has exceeded the prescribed weight limit for the specific category.

Reference: 5-Childcarseats.org.uk

Which One Will Fit My Infant?

On the basis of characteristics, infant car seats have been broadly categorized into three categories:

1. Group 0

Group0 Carseat

Infant Carriers or Carry Cots which can be secured by seat belts in the rear seat of the car are used for this group. These car seats are designed for vulnerable infants like premature babies, babies who suffer from apnea, or weak babies with low birth weight.  Experts however recommend that these car seats be used for your baby’s early months, even if your baby is healthy and not suffering from any of the above problems.

Specifications :

Position Lying (in carrycot), rear facing, lie-back orientation, no airbags (with the exception of curtain airbags in selected models).
Recommended Weight Up to 09 kg(20 lbs)
Approximate Age Birth to 09 months
Recommended heights  per seat construction
Best Buy Period Keep it ready before your child arrives. You would need to use this when you take your baby home for the first time, from the hospital.
Lasts About 09 to 15 months depending on the child’s growth.

 

2. Group 0+

Group 0+

As a surrogate of Group 0 car seats, these car seats have been designed to last longer and are meant for healthy children. These car seats administer front & side impact protection and cater to greater protection for the baby’s head, neck and spine. These carriers also secure the baby in Rear-Facing position using a standard adult seat belt and/or with an ISOFIX fitting and are equipped with handles for moving the car seat in and out of the car with ease. Turning up the given handles makes it a carrycot and clicking onto the stroller frame converts it into a pushchair. And all this can be done without so much as waking the baby up.

Specifications :

Position Sitting, rear facing, no airbags (with the exception of curtain airbags in selected models).
Recommended Weight Up to 09 kg(29 lbs)
Approximate age Birth to 15 months
Recommended Height As per seat construction
Best Buy Period Keep it ready before your baby arrives.
Lasts About 09 to 24 months depending upon the growth rate of your baby and size of the seat.

 

3. Group 0+ & 1

Group0Plus&1

Conventionally equipped with chassis, these car seats are integrated with handles and are strapped using an adult seat belt. They are bulky, and are recommended only for big vehicles, since they occupy a relatively large space in your car. Like other infant carriers, these car seats also offer Rear-Facing positions and provide robust features and enhanced security for your child. Although these larger car seats secure your child’s head effectively during a moment of sudden deceleration. and also require space for additional straps. These car seats are meant for specific vehicles, which makes them less sought after, though they are available.

Specifications

Position Sitting, rear facing, no airbags (with the exception of curtain airbags in selected models).
Recommended Weight From birth 2-3 kg (4-6 lbs.) Up till 13 kg (29 lbs.)
Approximate Age Birth to 15 months
Height As per seat construction
Best Buy Period Keep it ready before your baby arrives, and use it for his/her first ride homewards.
Lasts About 09 to 24 months depending upon the growth rate of your baby and size of the seat.

 

Benefits & Limitations

Here is a comparative analysis of all the categories under the Rear-Facing child car seats. This will give you a bird’s-eye view of all the pros and cons and help you with your buying decision.

Benefits Group 0 Group 0+ Group 0+ & 1
Portability Yes Yes X
Handling Convenience Yes Yes X
Convertible to infant carrier Yes Yes X
Convenient for multiple cars Yes Yes X
Individual harness tensioner X X Yes
Multi-recline – 4 recline positions X X Yes
Enhanced Security X X Yes
Offers both Rear-Facing and forward-facing positions X X Yes

 

Limitations Group 0 Group 0+ Group 0+ & 1
Most kids outgrow the seat within few months Yes X X
Should only be used for travel via car and not for any other activity outside the car Yes Yes X
Non-portable and Bulky X X Yes
Cumbersome X X Yes
Expensive X X Yes
X – Positive X – Negative  Yes  No 

 

How to Buy

Now that you know what to look for in a Rear-Facing car seat across the groups 0, 0+, 0+and 1, find out how to go about determining whether these features are tailor made for your child to take an informed buying decision.

  • Make sure to push back the seat padding as though pushed back by child’s weight and measure the seat using a measuring tape.
  • Look out for a low shoulder, small and adjustable harness. It is always better to choose according to your child’s measurements.
  • Check for adjustable buckles. Check how convenient it is open and put back.
  • Look out for the distance of the adjustable crotch buckle from the seat’s back surface. Check how convenient it is to open and put back.
  • Look out for an adjustable handle as most car seat models require that the handle be lowered during travel.
  • Make sure to recline in all defined positions and check for comfort in each.
  • Look for robust security features and a strong comfortable base.
  • Check if the seat fits well in your car and can be customized according to your baby’s needs.
  • Look out for portability or use in multiple vehicles.  Check by converting it into a carrier and pram etc.
  • Check recommended feature labels, safety instructions and user manuals.
  • Buying car seats online from a trusted website will save you the trouble of testing all these details yourselves, as the website will provide the images of all the necessary features and certify the product before putting it up for sale. You can also access reviews, opinions of other users, ratings etc. from the comfort of your home. Just ensure that you choose a product with a reasonable return policy, so that in the event you require a replacement, the process is easy.

The Truth About Those Common Myths of a Rear-Facing Car Seat

1. Myth

I grew up fine without a car seat, so will my child. I think my child is safe even without one.

Fact: You were fortunate enough to endure without a car seat, but it was not the safest of moves. Also, this does not imply that you can expose your baby to dangers. Safety is mandatory for everyone.

2. Myth

My child would not be travelling much in the car, so buying a car seat seems such a waste.

Fact: It does not matter how frequently your child travels with you. Even if your child will travel with you just once, when you go home from the hospital, it is your responsibility to ensure his/her safety. Accidents never come with a forewarning. You must be ready with a car seat before your child arrives for his/her first journey homeward.

3. Myth

A child car seat is not comfortable for my child.

Fact: This will not be a concern if you are using the correct child car seat for your child’s age and weight. Also, make sure you are following all the guidelines correctly. Safety and comfort, are the key factors kept in mind while designing and manufacturing any child car seat. Car seats are designed to keep your baby comfortable even during long journeys.

4. Myth

A child car seat never works. Securing it is a hazard too!

Fact: This will not be a concern if you are using the correct child car seat for your child’s age and weight. Also, make sure you are following all the guidelines correctly. Safety and comfort, are the key factors kept in mind while designing and manufacturing any child car seat. Car seats are designed to keep your baby comfortable even during long journeys.

5. Myth

My baby’s legs are too big for a Rear-Facing car seat.

Fact: Rear-Facing car seats are designed keeping baby’s body structure in mind.  Your baby is absolutely safe, even if his/her legs are bent at the knees or he/she can touch/kick the vehicle seat.

6. Myth

I can carry my infant in forward-facing position too.

Fact: It is strictly recommended to avoid forward-facing position for infants. Your child must travel in a Rear-Facing position for as long as possible.

7. Myth

We shall not cover long distances. Safety seat is not required for small distances.

Fact: Whether you’re travelling cross country or just around the corner, your baby needs to be safe, and there’s no telling when disaster might strike. Routine trips are often the ones that are deceptively dangerous.

Reference: 6-Durbin, D. R. (2011). Technical report—Child passenger safety. Pediatrics, 127(4). Advance online publication. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0215

FAQs

1.Why is Rear-facing Position Important for a Baby?

In a frontal crash (the most common and most severe type of crash), the head is thrown forward, but the body is held back. While older children and adults are protected with seat belts, a baby’s delicate neck, head and spinal cord are protected by spreading force through the back, which is not possible in a forward-facing position.

2. Do I Need a Base with My Infant Car Seat?

A base is an accessory to the infant car seat and need not necessarily be installed along with it. In certain situations like air travel, you may even be required to remove it to get a secure fit.

3. What is The Proper Recline Angle for My Child’s Infant Seat?

For an accurate angle, you should match the level lines on the side of the plastic shell with the ground level. The angle arrived at with this method, works best, even for older children. If your car seat model has a ball as an angle indicator, then the ball should be between the two marks on the indicator that matches the weight of your child. In most cases, it is found to be a maximum of 45 degrees.

4. I have an Airbag in The Front Seat of My Car. Should I Place My Child’s Car Seat in Front of The Airbag? Would it be The Safest Place for The Child Car Seat?

No, a child car seat is always the safest in the back seat, as opposed to the front seat, despite the car being equipped with an airbag in the front. The back seat reduces the chances of injury and death by more than 30%.

 

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Aarohi Achwal holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a master’s degree in English Literature. While working as an intern for an English daily, she realised that she likes writing above anything else. The idea of being heard without having to speak appeals to her. She likes to write research-based articles that are informative and relevant. She has written articles on pregnancy, parenting, and relationships. And she would like to continue creating content on health and lifestyle.