This will probably be one of the most judgemental posts you will ever read of mine and I will go ahead and give the disclaimer now, but I absolutely will not apologize for it. I mean every word that I'm about to say.
Reading the discussions online regarding the recent AAP recommendation that parents rear-face their kids until two has really made me think. I rear-faced Jackson until he was a year and a half old. He was 19 months old when I turned him- it was actually around the time he self-weaned. I decided that with this baby, I would rear-face him until he hit the weight/height limit on his carseat and knowing how skinny my kiddos are, that will be when he is around 4 years old. This is why...
The science behind extended rear-facing is undeniable. Rear-facing kids in 5 point harnesses are 500% safer than their forward-facing counterparts. That is a HUGE number!
I turned Jackson because I felt happy with my decision to continue rear-facing him until he was 19 months old. I thought that him having the extra 7 months was GOOD! And it was! If I'd turned him earlier than a year, he very well could have died two days before Christmas in 2009 when we were rear-ended by an SUV (that put me in physical therapy for 6 weeks 6 times a day and still causes me back pain) at a red light by being internally decapitated (a major cause of car accident deaths in kids that forward face too early, because their spines are still in 3 separate "pieces" and their heads are sooo heavy compared to the rest of their bodies)- which is not a thing meant to cause doubt or fear- look up the YouTube videos! He was 11 months old at the time. If I'd turned him "a month early," I could have lost my son, so I am passionate and outspoken about this.
Do NOT turn your child forward-facing before 1 year. In my opinion, it is reckless and dangerous. Any excuse that a mother could come up with to do so is NOT good enough and she needs to have her head examined.
As far as the moms I know making fun of the recommendation to extend rear-facing until 2, saying that their kid screams or their legs are scrunched- turn up the music and let them cross their legs. A loud kid is better than a silent, dead kid. Yes, I said it. I don't like everything the American Academy of Pediatrics says (read: vaccines)- but this is good information that is undeniable, even for a crunchy skeptic like me.
I didn't rear-face Jackson until two, but if I knew then what I know now, I absolutely would have, at a minimum. Keelin is too tall and too heavy to rear-face in her Britax, but I am thankful that I kept her rear-facing for well over a year. And again, I thought I was doing pretty good, there.
You live and you learn. Don't hear the facts and mock them. Take the facts to heart, take the research in and make a positive change for your kids. With Keelin, I didn't even know people kept their kids rear-facing past a year. I felt like the odd man out! With Jackson, I felt like I was doing something good, but didn't realize how seriously he could be injured in an accident even up to the age of two. I thought that at 1 we were out of the "danger zone" and anything past that was just gravy on my safe baby!
With our third child, Little No-Name, I am ready to bring him into this world and rear-face him until the cows come home, nurse him until he stops- there is no amount of ridicule that will change my mind, no differing opinions that will make me choose popular opinion over the absolute best for my children.
Now, here is where I am going to get a little judgey.
I do judge moms that buckle their kids in with big coats on and don't listen when told it's dangerous. Your child is not in their seat tightly enough if they are wearing a coat.
I do judge moms that leave carseat straps loose, when the dang directions tell you how to buckle them and tighten the straps properly. Read. The. Directions. Please, no slack straps! And chest buckles go on the chest, not near their lap!
I judge moms that forward face before a year, because there is NO excuse for it. It's dangerous AND illegal. I only personally know two people that have done it and I was absolutely appalled.
I judge moms that carry their babies in bucket seats with their legs hanging out- get the kiddo a convertable carseat and HOLD your baby! Heck, I'll give you one of my extra baby carriers or wraps! Just pick up that child, please! And get them a carseat they fit in properly. Geez.
I judge my mom friends that put their kids in booster seats with seatbelts when they are NOT old enough (yes, manufacturers say they are, but not safety experts) to be in one. They aren't recommended by safety experts until kids are SIX and the manufacturers say FOUR and 40lbs. That is absurd! Put the child in a 5 point harness and potentially save his or her life.
If I offended someone, okay. But I think that when you have the right information about safety issues regarding your kids and choose to do what is cute, convenient, or cheapest- then you really just need to hear the facts one more time, I hope. I know there are a few mommies that read my blog and a lot of you have similar parenting mindsets to my own, so I doubt any of you are going to read this and be offended, but I offended some people on my Facebook earlier, so I figured I should put up a warning :)