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Moving forward facing backward (Why my child is rearfacing)

facing backward Featured

I didn’t grow up in car culture. I grew up in New York City, where public transportation and taxis and walking are the norm. As a result, I didn’t grow up around cars and car seats. Now, the information about child restraints has evolved a lot in the past 20-30 years, and research continues to show the importance of rear facing seats. Harley’s infant seat was obviously rear facing and when she outgrew it we got her another backward facing car seat .

Here’s why we are choosing facing backward

At the moment, Harley’s bones aren’t really bones – they’re basically cartilage. They will continue to harden as she grows up… But she simply doesn’t have the hard skeleton that we think of just yet. But it’s way more than that. Think about the adults you’ve known who have been in collisions… Or cliche movies from the 90s – whiplash is a big deal. In a car accident, your head flies forward and then backwards, with only your neck to keep things in place. As adults, it’s pretty awful. And our heads are way smaller in proportion to the rest of our bodies than our little ones. Part of what makes Harley so cute, is her bobble head appeal, but just check out this cool image showing the actual proportions of head to body as we grow up.

Volvo Britax body proportions facing backward

It’s no wonder tummy time is so important and effective at this age – it really is a serious upper body workout to lift that ridiculous sized head! Children under four are incredibly vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. In a head-on collision, rear-facing seats reduce injury risks by 90% compared to unrestrained kids, over 20% safer than children wearing just a seatbelt (68% lower risk of injury).

If any of you love physics-based games as much as I do, you’ll probably understand why – the force is spread over a wider area. But why believe me talking about physics games when you can watch this short and simple video that shows what I’m talking about.

So, how long am I planning on keeping Harley in her backward facing car seat? Well, considering how safe it is, I wish I could also face backwards while driving! But really, once you buy a rear-facing child seat, it can last you for a long time. People kept telling me that Harley would basically need a new car seat every year, but that’s simply not true. Most rear-facing child restraints are for little ones ranging from 9-25 kgs (20 – 55 lbs). That means Harley could easily stay in there until she’s four years old. Sounds like a decent investment to me. You can download some interesting brochures about this from Volvo here if you’re looking for more research and information.

I’ve been forced to become educated about car seats living in Joburg. I drive somewhere with Harley every single day… Whether it’s to take Dean to work, or pick up groceries, or meet up with friends, or go to her Top Tots class, we are jumping in the car a few times each day. Whether we are going one kilometer away or ten or 50, Harley is always strapped into her car seat. We simply don’t put Harley in the car without ensuring that she is strapped and clipped and restrained.


Harley is as safe as possible in facing backward, but there are still thousands of babies in South Africa (and around the world) who aren’t. Please help all those other babies, there IS something that you can do – share this post. Share the other posts you see with #CarseatFullstop. Follow the campaign on your favorite social networks, and keep spreading the word. Even if you always strap your kids in, with South Africa sitting at a 15% rate of kids properly restrained in cars, the likelihood is that someone in your social circle doesn’t always use a car seat, or doesn’t use one that would be effective considering the age of their little one. Please just share this post, and others like it to raise awareness and saves a life.

Full disclosure: the good people at Volvo have come on board to sponsor #CarseatFullstop, and so I will receive compensation for this post. As always, though, I only accept work on campaigns I believe in. Here’s hoping that their sponsorship helps to spread the message further.

zoe harAbout the Author

Zoe is a rockstar geeky mom to a gorgeous little girl named Harley Wednesday, who is 3 years old. Zoe grew up as a gamer, bookworm and film nut in New York. Moving to the Netherlands and South Africa did nothing to change those things. Now she’s back in the States… Living in the desert of Arizona with her South African husband and their precocious little girl.

Zoe on BornGeek

I spend my days writing words for money, whether as a freelance writer, a video game and tech journalist, or a geeky, empowered mom blogger. I examine day to day feelings and events with a bit of a different take on things. From child development ideas and ways to raise a genius, to how to find time for gaming and reading while negotiating with a toddler, I look at parenting through a unique lens. Plus, there’s all the usual stuff, like mom guilt, day to day frustrations and the worst question every mom is asked daily – what’s for dinner?

You can find out more about BornGeek here.

Zoe on #CarseatFullstop

Our babies are our most precious cargo, and our most vulnerable. Anything can happen at any point on the road so use a carseat!

One share, seen by one person, who straps in one child, saves a life.
  1. Astrid

    What about children with special needs who weigh more than 36kgs? (Autism: Non-responsive, flight risk / escapologist, self-injurious)

    1. CarseatFullstop

      I don’t have all the answers sadly. I know there are special seats available for special needs children, but they are incredibly expensive. As a 1-woman initiative, I have had to start somewhere. I am focusing on the 93% of South African children in private cars that need to be in car seats. I dearly hope that there are people as passionate about your question as I am about this.

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