A rear-facing child car seat provides greater protection for the head, neck and spine. While a child car seat facing forwards can reduce injuries by up to 50%, a rear-facing child seat can reduce them by up to 80%, as stated by the WHO. After learning about the benefits, can any child seat be placed in a rear-facing position although it has not been designed for this?
It is very important that we follow the manufacturer's specifications and instructions in this regard. The child seat has been designed to be positioned in a specific way and if we do not install the seat as indicated we could be compromising the child's safety, whether that be by anchoring it incorrectly, due to the weight, or how we secure it, or because of its design, etc. In fact, child seats are approved according to these specifications, meaning that they have been tested and have passed the minimum safety requirements when following the manufacturer's instructions. For these reasons, we cannot install a child seat in a rear-facing position if it has not been designed to do so.
For example, a number of child car seats allow the child to travel in a rear-facing position until they reach a certain weight, at which point the child and the CRS should be forward-facing. The main reason is because the seat has not been designed to continue being in a rear-facing position for any longer, i.e. in order to bear more weight in this position. It is vital that we follow the manufacturer's instructions so we do not put our child's safety at risk.
WHEN SHOULD CHILD SEATS BE REAR-FACING?
The manufacturer's themselves usually indicate when this should occur. Seats approved under i-Size guarantee that the child can travel in a rear-facing position until they are 15 months old (R-129). After this, we should consult the specifications of each particular child seat. A CRS in Groups 0+ (from 0 to 13 kg) also usually feature this option (R44/04).
At Fundación MAPFRE we recommend looking for a CRS that allows the child to travel facing the rear for as long as possible and up to a minimum of 4 years old.
As we have pointed out, rear-facing child restraint systems are designed to guarantee the safety of our youngest children. This is why these seats should not be placed in a forward-facing position, unless the manufacturer's instructions indicate otherwise.
A rear-facing CRS is recognizable by how it reclines. They are usually more curved or reclined than non rear-facing child seats. In fact, they are usually more reclined than other child seats so that they can fit on the car seat better and adapt to the child's needs.
In addition, when a child reaches a certain weight or height, these types of seats usually have a third anchorage point such as a support leg or top tether. It should be noted that forward-facing child seats may also have this third anchor point, principally to prevent the seat from rotating. Although it is usually positioned somewhat differently.
Support legs feature more often in rear-facing child seats, although they are also fitted in a forward-facing position. They are fixed to the seat with the car's seat belt or with ISOFIX anchorages. This third anchor point is fitted last and is usually fixed to the child seat itself and the car floor. However, the top tether, which can also be installed, is less common, since with rear-facing child seats the seat belt has to go over the top of the child.
Lastly, we recommend the article entitled: Why should we use a rear-facing child car seat and up until what point?