The primary reason to choose a rear-facing car seat for your child is clear: rear-facing is the safest way to travel. However, social pressure can make us fear that safety is at the expense of comfort for your child. Misconceptions like: “It is not comfortable for my child”, “My child will get carsick rear-facing”, and “My child can´t see anything” are just a couple of examples. We will explain why not to worry about these common myths to keep your child rear-facing for longer.
1. It is not comfortable for my child in a rear-facing car seat
In Sweden, children usually travel in a rear-facing car seat up to 6 years comfortably. Is this widespread myth true?
If you position your child in a suitable car seat according to their age, weight, and height then your child will have ample legroom. Keep in mind that as your child grows, they will need less recline and the initial space between the edge of the seat and the backrest of the car seat will increase to allow additional legroom. But If you still feel doubtful, our Axkid car seats will allow you to increase the legroom by readjusting the installation of the car seat and the repositioning of the seat will achieve this.
“What if children cannot travel with their legs stretched out? Is it not bad for them?”
In fact, in a rear-facing car seat, it is very likely that children will have enough space to have their legs fully stretched for at least two to three years. Although, they will often prefer to bend them in order to travel more comfortably and they will be able to change their position easily.
If you look at any small child, you will see that they have a natural tendency to do just this. Whether playing, sitting in the stroller or even travelling forward-facing, children tend to bend their legs, cross them, lean on the seats or pull them out to the sides rather than letting them hang for a long time.
It is also important to consider, that despite the position of the legs when traveling in the car, if you are traveling for a long period of time, it is advisable to stop and take a break every two hours, to be able to stretch and change positions for best comfort.
2. My child will get carsick in a rear-facing car seat
Dizziness is a natural reaction to an unnatural stimulus (Jelte Bos, expert of TNO in Perception and Cognitive Systems, 2017).
When we travel by car, our brain must integrate contradictory information that it receives from our eyes. They tell us that we move quickly but, both our vestibular system (a small organ located in our inner ear that is responsible for balance) and our proprioceptive system (some receivers sensory located in the muscles that tell us where our body is in space) tell us that we are still (Zhang, Wang, Qi, Pan, Li & Cai, 2016). When our brain fails to integrate this information properly, motion sickness arises. However, this happens regardless of the direction of travel, especially if we have a genetic predisposition to dizziness.
On the other hand, adults can feel dizzy if we travel rear-facing because our brain is “programmed” to understand that the normal sense of displacement is forward, in the same way, that we can feel dizzy on a broken escalator, which does not move as we are used to.
Taking into consideration that the vestibular system of children is not yet fully formed and it has not had the time to register any pattern as normal. For a child’s brain, travelling rear-facing is as “normal” as travelling forward-facing, especially if they have travelled that way since birth.
3. My child can´t see out in a rear-facing car seat
Another common myth we usually hear: “if they ride rear-facing, they will not see anything and they will get bored”.
Children that travel in a rear-facing car seat will have a greater field of vision. When travelling forward-facing they are seated just in front of the backrest of the front seat, which limits their visibility. If they wish to look out of the window or if we travel by their side and they wish to look at us, they will have to turn their necks in an awkward position.
When children ride rear-facing they can look out of the window or look at us with a smaller turn which is much more comfortable. The use of a mirror in the back of the car will also allow the child to see and engage with the person in the front of the car comfortably. In addition, as the design of the rear-facing car seats allows children to sit higher in the vehicle when compared to travelling in a forward-facing car seat, they have a very wide field of vision through the rear window.
- Bos, J.E. (2015). Less sickness with more motion and/or mental distraction. Journal of Vestibular Research, Vol. 25, nº1, pp.23-33.
- Bos, J.E. (2017). Motion Perception and Sickness, Eye Movements and Human Performance.Recuperado de http://www.jeltebos.info/perception_sickness.htm
- Reynold, R.F. and Brostein, A.M. (2003). The broken escalator phenomenon. Aftereffect on walking onto a moving platform. Experimental Brain Research. August 2003, Vol. 151, Issue 3, pp 301-308.
- Zhang, L., Wang, J., Qi, R., Pan, L., Li, M. and Cai, Y. (2016). Motion sickness: Current Knowledge and Recent Advance. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 22(1), pp. 15-24.