Thursday, April 22, 2010

Okay, so it's not sexy.

When Rhys and Quin first came home from the hospital, I was terrified to take them in the car.  It felt crazy to take those tiny five pound babies and casually buckle them into their car every purpose in life cruising along, listening to Rusted Root, facing backward and rendering me blind to their well-being in my own necessary forward facing.  I've never had those baby mirrors that let you keep an eye out because I've read that they can become dangerous projectiles in an accident.  Over time, I got accustomed to driving on high alert - the tiniest peep, burp, or cough would raise every hair on my body as I tuned in to decide whether it was a "normal" baby noise or a SOMETHING IS WRONG baby noise.  I was counting down the days until they would reach the necessary twenty pounds and one year old so that I could turn them around to face front.  The idea of us all facing forward just seemed so right - I would look in the rear view mirror and see their smiling faces, munching on crackers or sleeping in a warm haze.

Then I heard about Extended Rear Facing.  I've got to be honest, I think it sounds like something that might happen on a crazy Saturday night after a few tequila shots too many.  But really, it's disappointingly pure, and even more disappointing to my forward looking self, it is S-A-F-E-R in a very well documented statistical sense.  

If you haven't heard of ERF - it is simply keeping your baby/toddler in a rear-facing car seat past the twenty-pound, one year guideline.  The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks it's a good idea, as does the entire country of Sweden, where children stay rear facing until as old as five and where, during the period of 1992-1997, only nine children who were properly restrained in rear facing car seats died in motor vehicle crashes.  When you consider that car accidents are the number one cause of death for US children, that's a pretty remarkable statistic.  In fact, all of the statistics are remarkable, but don't take my word for it:
My little bubble of longed-for forward facing has been burst.  Rhys and Quin are both over the age of one and are both over 20 pounds.  They ride facing back, and they will continue to do so until they outgrow the guidelines for their car seats, which will be 33 pounds.  When I tell people this who are not familiar with ERF, they automatically ask where their legs go, and I myself asked the same question when I first heard about the concept.  Right now, they're still short enough that their feet barely come to the edge of their car seats.  Their legs are a little bit bent, but I doubt they'd ride with their knees locked and their legs out like dolls if they had the option. As they get older, they'll cross their legs, bend them more, or prop them up on the back seat.  Most kids prefer to bend and flex - do a Google search for images of ERF and you'll see lots of happy toddlers safely facing back and making it work. 

I had hoped to make this post at least slightly sexy or mildly interesting.  Alas, just as Extended Rear Facing turns out not to live up to its kinky-name potential (really...I can't be the only one who sees it!?), this post probably isn't going to make it onto anyone's Facebook status.  That's okay.  Just consider ERF and pass it on.


Hi, I'm Natalie. said...

I just bought a My Ride 65 for that exact reason, so the girl will be rear-facing to 40lbs (or until she gets too tall).

I also had a hissy-fit about buying that thing because Canadians get screwed on pricing. *Grr*

My hissy-fit:

TempestBeauty said...

Ronan is 14 months and 25 pounds... and we PROUDLY ERF!

I've had SO many people ask me why he's still facing backwards. My reply?

"Because it's safer."

Period. And we will continue to ERF until we can't any longer. Bent legs? Far better than broken necks, IMO.

Love your post on this :D Thanks again April!

Tacey said...

I'm so glad to read this. We're off to see and hopefully buy a rear facing seat this weekend. There was still a little part of my brain worrying about the cost when we barely use the car, but your post has banished that!

Daryl said...

No kids no car but I do think you are a good mom and therefore I support this ... and you ..

Cate said...

I learned about ERF at my daughter's last doctor's appointment, and man, was I bummed! I, too, had the warm fuzzy "all of us facing forward and being cute" vision. But after researching it...there's no way I'm turning that carseat around until she reaches the limit! (I think it's 35 pounds, or until she gets too tall, obviously).

jackieblue said...

The fact that you mentioned cruising around listening to Rusted Root made it sexy enough for me!

We are at the next phase. My four-year-old wants out of her 5-point harness and into a booster like her brother. We only just moved him because he is at the top of the height charts and too tall to be safe in the 5-point seat, and he is nearly 6. We tell her it is so much safer, and she'll be in that seat until she outgrows it. She's much shorter, so that should be a while.

The point is, if you can be that much safer with so little effort, why not?? You ERF, girl!