top of page

Rear facing car seat safety

Road accidents, including car accidents, are the leading cause of death between the ages of 1 – 14 in Australia.

For those that survive, some face life-changing injuries as a result of their accidents. The best way to prevent this from occurring, is by ensuring your child is always in the safest car seat for their age and height at all times, and making sure you follow these safety tips.

1) Keeping child rear facing for as long as possible, and using the car seat height markers on your car seat as a guide of when to turn. Children ideally are kept rear facing until at least 2 years of age. Research shows children that are rear facing are up to 5 times safer then those that are forward facing when involved in an accident. Rear facing protects the head, neck and body from the impact of the accident.

2) If using a capsule, ensure the baby does not remain sleeping in it once out of the car base. The car base allows for the capsule to sit in a reclined position whilst driving. Once out and on a flat surface, this then changes the seat to no longer being in a recline positioned, which can lead to the infant slumped over and occluding their airway while sleeping.

3) The 2 hour rule ensures your baby or child is removed from the car seat to move about every two hours at a maximum.

4) Remove any thick clothing when in the car seat as this will lead to the child not being restrained correctly.

5) While some car seats can lightly touch the front seat once installed correctly (not pressed in), others need a gap, so it is better to just leave a small gap in between the front seat and your car seat if possible. If this is not possible, you can check your specific brand of car seat to check what their requirements are. Often a small gap is required to allow for some movement during a crash and to prevent impact to the head/neck.

6) Always ensure there are no twists in the car seat, except for the one to clip in to the buckle

7) If you can pinch the straps they are too loose so do the pinch test or two finger test (video demo coming soon) . See pictures below for a visual guide

8) Straps need to be either directly at or JUST below shoulder height.

9) Always check your car seat positioning including straps prior to use.

10) Use a mirror in front of the car seat so you can see bub while driving.

Be aware babies and toddlers do go through stages where they may resist being rear facing. As hard as this can be, try to offer other ways of distractions to keep them rear facing. Personally I've kept a box of 'special' car toys only so they can have that, plus lots of constant music to sing and dance to during the drive. We also play car games and use a mirror while rear facing so they can see me and their surrounds, and I can see them too. Always make sure they have a fresh nappy on and are fed prior to the drive so you aren't battling a hungry baby, and make sure their straps are not too tight/nothing else digging into them. Sometimes, you may find a different car seat is better for your child (some infants hate the capsule and do far better in a rear facing car seat instead). If you have any tips to leave for other parents who may be struggling with a strong willed toddler that is rear facing, leave a comment below.

Watch this great video with Dr. Warwick Teague, Associate Professor and Director of Trauma explaining how child car seat restraints work

Watch this video to see why rear facing car seats are recommended, with a visual demonstration on the comparison of an accident and the impact on the child's head/neck/spine when in front facing vs rear facing

Pinch test picture below (source: Pinch the strap up near the collarbone.


26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

First Aid Kits for Kids

Do you have children in the home? A good, simple first aid kit is essential, and one that is specific for children. Medications for children are based off their weight and/or age depending on the drug


bottom of page