Car Seat Safety: Keep Children Rear-Facing Longer

Orbit Baby's convertible Toddler Car Seat and Base are designed for maximum Rear-Facing usage, to keep children safer longer.

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.

Why does the Orbit Baby Toddler Car Seat only dock onto the Base rear-facing, and not rotate forward-facing?

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.

Convertible car seat instructions: rear-facing versus forward-facing

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:

  • Requirement: You must keep your child rear-facing if s/he is under one year in age, or under 20 pounds. For example, if your child is 13 months old and 19 pounds, then she must stay rear-facing. Or, if your child is 11 months old and 22 pounds, she must also stay rear-facing in her car seat.
  • Recommendation: Authoritative organizations (including but not limited to the American Association of Pediatrics and SafetyBeltSafe USA) all recommend keeping your child rear-facing for as long as possible beyond these requirements. Of course, you should only keep your child rear-facing within your car seat's specifications (35 pounds in the case of Orbit's Toddler 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.

Why rear-facing is safer

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:

  • A rear-facing child car seat position supports your child's head, neck, and back substantially better in the most common and most severe types of vehicle crashes. (Frontal and side/offset crashes account for 96% of all vehicle crashes.)
  • In a rear-facing position, the entire car seat's shell and structure helps to spread out crash forces on your child's body, as opposed to having your child's body, with only partially developed muscles and bones, absorbing those forces as in a forward-facing position.
  • 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
Commonly expressed concerns about rear-facing car seat usage
  • "My child wants to face forward."

    Many parents have expressed to us their young children "wanted" to face forward. This perception often drives parents to not only discard the safety recommendations stated above, but to ignore even the safety requirements and turn their children around too soon. Given our focus on car seat safety, we feel compelled to offer some commentary on the subject:

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.

  • "My child's legs are cramped."

    Research shows no evidence that you should be concerned about the safety of your child's legs in a rear-facing position. As to the perception that your young child's legs are uncomfortable, the prevailing expert advice is that there is no cause for worry - as they understandably point out, kids are very flexible and usually prefer to sit with their legs folded anyway.

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.

The Orbit Baby Base’s SmartHub™ encourages rear-facing car seat safety

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.

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