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.