Would you like to give someone a child restraint system this Christmas, but don't know where to begin? Do you know how important it is for young children to travel in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible? We take a look at the main advantages of traveling in a rear-facing position and what kind of features we should be looking for when purchasing a CRS.
WHY IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO GIFT SOMEONE A REAR-FACING CHILD CAR SEAT?
-Firstly, a rear-facing child restraint system is much safer because it offers greater protection, particularly in more vulnerable areas of the body such as the head, neck and spine. In fact, 80% of injuries can be avoided by using these kinds of seats. The head, neck and back are in line with the backrest and the impact forces are absorbed by the seat itself thereby reducing the pressure exerted on the chest and abdomen.
Children under 135 cm should always travel in an approved child restraint system suitable for their weight and height, installed on the rear seats. Both approval standards currently in force advocate for rear-facing seats for very young children. Under standard R44/04 child car seats in Group 0 and 0+ are rear-facing and under standard R-129 they must be facing this way until they are 15 months old. At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend doing so until the child is at least 4 years old. Furthermore, we advise extending this legal requirement in order to use child restraint systems until the child reaches 150 cm in height.
-They are particularly suitable for children with certain special needs, such as underweight children or those with muscular problems.
WHAT SHOULD WE BE TAKING INTO ACCOUNT?
As mentioned, i-Size seats are rear-facing up to a minimum of 15 months old.
We should bear in mind that child car seats must be installed on the vehicle's rear seats. There are only three exceptions to this rule, when they can travel in the front seat: if the rear seats are being occupied by other children in child car seats, if the CRS cannot be installed on those seats, or if the vehicle does not have rear seats. In the event of placing the rear-facing child car seat on the front passenger seat, this airbag must be disabled.
Before purchasing a rear-facing CRS, we must consider the child's height and weight, as well as the approval standard - (R44/04 or R-129). We should also take into account the type of vehicle and ensure that they are compatible, since not all child seats can be installed in every car. Regarding this last point, it is best to check the manufacturers' guidelines or even better, to purchase the seat in a specialized store where they will always be able to help you and clear up any doubts you might have as well as be able to show you how to install the seat in the car.
We also need to find out whether the seat has to be installed with ISOFIX anchorages (only if the car is equipped with them) or if they are installed with seat belts. However, for safety reasons, ISOFIX anchorages are always a better option.
Moreover, we should select rear-facing car seats that are easy to install and secure. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the correct installation of the seat.
-We should choose good quality rear-facing seats which have been proven to offer good protection. Generally speaking, any child car seat that has been approved has passed certain minimum safety levels. Nevertheless, we can also take into account the Plus Test stamp, one of the most internationally-recognized tests of child road safety, granted in Sweden. This stamp guarantees that the child car seat in question has successfully passed very strict testing designed to guarantee the occupant's safety, especially in the neck area, in a head-on collision, providing that the manufacturer's installation instructions are followed. It should be noted that manufacturers submit their products for this testing voluntarily and the test does not replace but rather is in addition to the European R44 and ECE R129 standards.
This infographic outlines the key aspects of rear-facing child car seats.