ERF – Extended Rear Facing
I’m not a parent who pushes their views onto other people, but I do like to provide people with information so they can make their own informed decisions when it comes to their children. Extended Rear Facing (ERF) is one of those subjects I feel very strongly about. Mainly because the UK has a culture of turning their babies forward facing as soon as they hit 9kg (or 15kg from the new i-Size regulation). This culture, combined with a lack of resource available on ERF, a market full of forward facing car seats and a lack of ERF seats, it is no surprise that most parents choose to turn their babies forward facing when they start outgrowing the first stage seat.
Did you know that ERF is 5x safer than forward facing? Many countries have a requirement by law that children remain Rearward facing until they are 5 years old!
For me when I first started researching about Finlay’s next stage car seat when he was a baby, there was no question about choosing an ERF seat. However speaking to friends, most agreed that forward facing was the best for their babies, with some facing forwards as soon as they hit 9kg. The general consensus was:
- My baby is bored facing rearward
- My babies legs are too long to keep them rear facing
- My baby wants to see where we are going
- My baby is uncomfortable Rear Facing
I have also had conversations with Family who argue the hell about, it not being safer because you can also be hit from behind! Although they support our choice, there is always little digs and comments about it being time to turn Finlay around over the past three years. As we come to a point at 3.8 years, Finlay has been forward facing for the last two months in my car which I just drive around town in. We feel ready now to turn him forward facing in the family car. But as we do, I just wanted to share some facts about the reasons and arguments for why we chose to keep Finlay in and ERF. So perhaps somewhere along the way we can help you decide whether the time is right to turn your little forward facing.
- Why shouldn’t I turn my baby at 9kg? Babies are not mini adults. Proportionately a babies head is massive and heavy in comparison to its body. The spine and neck have yet to harden and the forces applied in a frontal collision can cause the spine to stretch and snap, called internal decapitation. If sitting rearward, the head is cradled by the car seat. The impact is distributed through the whole back area. Please watch this video which demonstrates this.
- What about my Babies Legs? ERF Car seats sit higher up and further back than 0+ car seats. This allows for plenty of leg room. There have also been no reported incidents of ERF children hurting there legs, but there are many reported injuries of children with neck injuries in forward facing seats. I also would rather a broken leg, than a broken neck – it’s a lot easier to mend!
- But my baby wants to see where we are going. A child unless sitting in the middle seat will not be able to see out the front window. ERF seats sit higher up allowing children to see out of the side and back window. Remember also that a young Childs vision is not great and would not be able to focus on everything rushing towards them. They can actually see more rear facing.
- Wont my child be uncomfortable? The car seats are just as comfy as forward facing ones. There is plenty of leg room as the positioning is different. They are higher up so they can see out of the side and rear windows. Also, a child that has always been rear facing will have nothing to compare it to. They will remain happy and content and you can use the usual toys and games to keep them entertained on journeys. You can get special mirrors so you can make eye contact also.
- What if I was in a rear ended crash? More Forward facing crashes tend to happen at higher speeds with more severe injuries. Rear crashes are statistically at lower speeds and most damage is on the car, there are also less of them. So from statistics, you are more likely to be in forward facing crash. If however you are in a rear ended crash, drivers tend to press the brake before impact. This creates a brake force with a forward direction. The child is then pushed back into the seat and cradled by it. Also, think of it as two cars crashing into each other at 70mph will cause tremendous force. The car goes from high speed to standstill in a matter of seconds. With two cars travelling in the same direction, and one going into the back of the other. This creating a very small differentiating force and a less serious impact in comparison.
Not Convinced? The please have a look over Rear Facing: The way forward for many more facts, figures and information.
As I said I respect everyone’s individual wishes. However, I would say make sure your choice are made with the right reasons behind them. ERF is 5x more safer for a reason.