For maximum car seat safety, leading scientists and car safety organizations (including the American Association of Pediatrics) all recommend keeping children rear-facing in their car seats for as long as possible. Because of these strong recommendations, we designed our Orbit Baby Toddler Car Seat with the innovative convenience of docking onto the car seat Base rear-facing, encouraging maximum rear-facing usage of our convertible car seat.
Regulations and testing requirements constrain what is currently possible in convertible car seat design. To reinforce the reality of these constraints, witness the fact that there are no convertible car seats that rotate both rear- and forward-facing on a base while still delivering a high child weight rating. Orbit Baby opted to encourage rear-facing car seat usage through the convenience of our Base's SmartHub™ rotation, rather than restricting Base usage to forward-facing installations only, or eliminating the convenience of our Base altogether. We promote rear-facing usage by design because all empirical evidence shows that children are safer rear-facing, and supporting any measure of safety is Orbit Baby's first priority.
In parent research and interviews we have conducted, we found that the most confusing aspect of installing a convertible car seat is figuring out when it should be installed rear-facing or forward-facing. To clearly discuss rear-facing car seat safety, it is important to start with what is required versus what is recommended. In the case of rear-facing safety, leading recommendations go beyond existing requirements to increase the chances of keeping your child safe in his or her car seat:
These recommendations try to focus parents less on when they could start using their car seat forward-facing, and more on when they should keep using it rear-facing.
To learn more about why staying rear-facing beyond current requirements is safer, please visit some of sources listed below. The many sources are quite consistent, and the main ideas are summarized here:
Real world example - Sweden: Countries such as Sweden have embraced the greater safety of longer-term rear-facing car seat usage, with children staying rear-facing for far longer than 'normal' in the US. Sweden - the same country that brought us Volvo's safety innovations - has made significant strides in child car seat safety:"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." - CPSafety website
While every child is different and we cannot give blanket advice on the subject, the common rule in the young families at Orbit Baby is that safety trumps the day-to-day whims of our children. While some of our children do seem to react unfavorably to facing rearward one day, it will often be a different complaint the next. Children often dislike sitting in car seats at all, but we would certainly not let them ride without one.
Most importantly, neither concerns above overturn the fundamental advantages a rear-facing position offers in terms of head, neck, and spinal support in the event of a crash.
Most parents turn convertible car seats to face forward sooner than they should. Safety can be an abstract notion, and daily inconveniences prompt parents to abandon the rear-facing position. We hope the added dock-and-rotate convenience of our Base for rear-facing Toddler Car Seat installation encourages parents to keep their children rear-facing up to the maximum 35 pounds. Up until your child grows heavier than 35 pounds, your Orbit Baby car seat will be able to rotate conveniently toward the car door, letting you adjust the harness and help your child in and out, as well as quickly transfer the car seat from car to car or even to the Stroller.
New parents may also wonder what age correlates to a young child’s weight. According to the CDC growth charts, an average (50 percentile) girl reaches 35 lbs at about four-and-a-half years old, and an average (50 percentile) boy reaches 35 pounds at about three-and-a-half years old. This means that the convenience of using your Orbit Base extends well into the toddler years.