Rear-facing child car seats are the best safety option for children. This position has been proven to be the safest in the first months and years of a child's life, given that it protects their spine, neck and head in a car crash. They are the safest seats in rear impacts, side impacts and head-on collisions.
Children under four years old have underdeveloped neck muscles. Therefore, any crash or collision will mean the child's head will fly forward if they are traveling in a forward-facing position. This is why current road safety legislation determines the need to keep the seat in a rear-facing position beyond the compulsory 15 months, and even up to 3 or 4 years old.
However, when it comes to choosing the best rear-facing seat for your child, certain doubts might arise. There is a belief that any seat can be placed in a rear-facing position (since seats in Group 0/0+ are able to do so), but the best thing to do would be to purchase a seat specifically designed to be installed in this position.
How to go about choosing the best rear-facing seat available
These seats should always be fitted on the vehicle's rear seats. We know the exceptions all too well: if the rear seats are occupied by other children in child car seats, if the CRS cannot be installed on it or if the vehicle does not have any rear seats. In the event of traveling in the front of the car in a rear-facing seat (only in the exceptions mentioned), the front passenger seat airbag must be disabled.
The first thing we need to know when purchasing a child car seat is our child's height and weight. We should decide on the approval that the seat we are going to purchase will have (R44/04 or R-129) although we should ideally be opting for the most current legislation.
In order to choose the most suitable model we will need to take into account the child seat's compatibility with our vehicle. Vehicles without ISOFIX are not compatible with i-Size seats, although this is something which a specialized retailer will be able to help us with.
The ease with which we can install and adjust the seat are fundamental aspects to bear in mind when making this purchase. We will need to adjust the child in the seat on many occasions during the useful life of the CRS. We should always follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing the seat in the car.
It is crucial that we buy a good-quality seat. We should not base our decision on the price of the seat alone, we should instead be looking for any analysis, studies or reports of the tests the seat has undergone. Another option to look out for is the Plus Test stamp, an internationally recognized test in children's road safety which is awarded in Sweden.
This stamp lets us know that the seat has successfully passed strict tests designed to guarantee the occupant's protection, especially in the neck area in a front impact, providing the manufacturer's installation instructions are followed. Manufacturers submit their products to these tests on a voluntary basis and it does not substitute the European R44 and ECE R129 standards but rather supplements them.
Take a look at this infographic for more information on how to choose the most suitable rear-facing child car seat.