Shoulder height instead of weight limit? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 06-20-2012, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I've started researching car seats for the new babe. We have been happy with the Britax convertibles we have so that's where I started and obviously I'm looking for the one which allows rear-facing for the longest. But all the Britax seats seem to have these height markers, and when your child's shoulder reaches the first marker you turn them forward and when it reaches the second marker you need a new seat. The trouble is all the manuals say "at approximately 12 months" for turning forwards. Does anyone know whether the heights tend to be based on the middle of the growth chart or do they cater to the tallest children? I don't want to have to turn at 12 months but I dont expect to have the tallest baby in the Playground either so it could be fine.

Any experience or advice greatly appreciated.

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#2 of 10 Old 06-20-2012, 10:47 PM
 
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I really don't know what's available in Australia so I can only speak to what we have in the US... which may or may not apply to you. My guess is that it probably doesn't, unless you're thinking of importing (and illegally using) a US seat.

 

Britax seats (speaking of the newer-generation ones not the "Classic" models) will usually keep an average-height child rear-facing to about age two or three years old. Perhaps a bit less for a child who is long in the torso. For very long-torsoed children or very tall children or for people who want a seat that will RF to age four (or beyond) they are not a very good value. Other seats for the same amount or less money will often last far longer. 

 

The Classic Britax seats are taller but have lower weight limits so they may last longer for tall, skinny children. 

 

As far as I know, there are no car seats that are legal to use in Australia which are good for extended rear-facing. What you want to look for to maximize the height usefulness of a particular seat is to measure the "shell height" of the seat - that is, the distance from baby's bum to the top of the car seat. Rear-facing car seats are generally outgrown when the child reaches a certain distance from the top of the shell - in the US that's most commonly 1" from the top, but it may be different in Australia because of the way Australian rear-facing seats get tethered. Be sure to consult the manual for the car seat you are considering to be sure. 

 

If you are thinking about getting a US seat so you can rear-face longer, one advantage to the Britax seats is that they may not call as much attention to themselves since it's a brand you can get in Australia and also because they can be tethered "australian style" (they're the only US seat that is designed to be used this way). 

 

You might be able to get some more information about your options by going to the Australian rear-facing board on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Extended-Rearfacing-To-Australia/152685868125500


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#3 of 10 Old 06-20-2012, 10:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the info. I'm not planning to illegally import one. I was mainly curious about the shoulder height thing as Ive never seen it before. Thanks for the FB link I will definitely check it out.

The latest thing I've read re: the Australian standards, which are due for review next year, is that we don't need extended rear-facing because we are required to top tether all forward-facing seats. Seems dodgy to me as we're only tethering the seat, not the baby's head but I couldn't find any research to support or reute the claim.

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#4 of 10 Old 06-20-2012, 11:06 PM
 
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Just food for thought........my sister had to contact Britax.....there was some recall....and they had to send her some strap extender ....her tiny 20 pound baby wasn't fitting rear facing anymore....also, when thinking of height limits....be looking at leg length....is there enough room for your child's feet so they stay inside the seat? (depending on the seat, and how it fits inside your car, if too much of the foot/leg dangles, then that could be dangerous in an accident).


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#5 of 10 Old 06-20-2012, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Virginia Mom View Post

Just food for thought........my sister had to contact Britax.....there was some recall....and they had to send her some strap extender ....her tiny 20 pound baby wasn't fitting rear facing anymore....also, when thinking of height limits....be looking at leg length....is there enough room for your child's feet so they stay inside the seat? (depending on the seat, and how it fits inside your car, if too much of the foot/leg dangles, then that could be dangerous in an accident).

Thanks for the reply. Could you tell me more about what you mean by her feet staying in the car. Do you mean in the car seat? As far as I know it's no problem if they dangle their legs over the sides but my LO mostly bends her knees and puts her feet on the seat or kind of sits in a modified lotus position with her knees flopped out.

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#6 of 10 Old 06-21-2012, 02:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by katelove View Post

Thanks for the info. I'm not planning to illegally import one. I was mainly curious about the shoulder height thing as Ive never seen it before. Thanks for the FB link I will definitely check it out.
The latest thing I've read re: the Australian standards, which are due for review next year, is that we don't need extended rear-facing because we are required to top tether all forward-facing seats. Seems dodgy to me as we're only tethering the seat, not the baby's head but I couldn't find any research to support or reute the claim.

 

The top tether reduces the chance that the child's face will smash into the front seat, but it actually increases the stress on the neck bones which is the concern for facing children forward before the age of two. We use top tethers here in North America, too, but we still have data that shows children between the ages of one and two are 500% safer in an accident if they are using a rear-facing car seat compared to a forward-facing one. Very few of our toddlers here in the US remain rear-facing, but we're trying to change that. Car accidents are the #2 cause of accidental death (a close second behind drowning) for children between the ages of one and four here. In Sweden, where they keep children rear-facing through that age group, car accidents don't even make the list of top causes for accidental death. They get something like 2 or 3 toddler/preschooler deaths per year from car accidents in the entire country and I heard somewhere (I can't promise it was a reliable source) that last year they finally made their goal of zero child deaths over the whole year due to car accidents. Rear-facing toddlers certainly is not the only safety precaution they take in Sweden to accomplish this task, but it is the one thing a parent has control over and can emulate (vehicle regulations and highway safety laws require the government to deal with them). 

 

So, yeah, I call BS that the top tethers remove the need for rear-facing young children. If that were true we wouldn't be seeing such a huge safety difference here in North America either. The laws of physics apply equally all over the globe (right? They're not different in the southern hemisphere, are they? ;) ) and I'm fairly sure there's no significant biological difference between American/Canadian, Swedish, and Australian  children either. 

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Originally Posted by Virginia Mom View Post
be looking at leg length....is there enough room for your child's feet so they stay inside the seat? (depending on the seat, and how it fits inside your car, if too much of the foot/leg dangles, then that could be dangerous in an accident).

 

This is a common misconception but it's not true. A few kids may be uncomfortable if they don't have a lot of leg room, but it poses zero safety risk. There are no documented cases of children breaking their legs in car accidents due to rear-facing, even in seats that have very little leg room. Most children don't find it uncomfortable to prop their legs up on the vehicle seat back, sit criss-cross, or dangle their legs over the sides, either. I prefer to see my child in a seat with more leg room, but that's just personal preference. It's not a safety concern.


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#7 of 10 Old 06-21-2012, 06:55 PM
 
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This is a common misconception but it's not true. A few kids may be uncomfortable if they don't have a lot of leg room, but it poses zero safety risk. There are no documented cases of children breaking their legs in car accidents due to rear-facing, even in seats that have very little leg room. Most children don't find it uncomfortable to prop their legs up on the vehicle seat back, sit criss-cross, or dangle their legs over the sides, either. I prefer to see my child in a seat with more leg room, but that's just personal preference. It's not a safety concern.

I've got to say I look at it a bit differently........I think that there really is no such thing as posing zero safety risk............my friend's baby broke both of his legs in an accident....rear facing, feet dangling over the edge...so it can happen......It can be a safety concern when there are moms (and we have all seen them) that use the wrong rear facing seats for larger toddlers.....and then that risk factor increases when car seats are installed improperly. Some of the newer model minivans are also deisgning their bucket seats with awkard angles in them....making some car seats sit unevenly...........


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#8 of 10 Old 06-21-2012, 07:16 PM
 
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An accident that broke the legs of a rear-facing child would probably break the neck of a forward-facing child, especially if that child was still a "baby".  No one wants broken legs, but I'll take them over broken necks.  Rear-facing in a properly used seat is safest.  This is not just "looking at things differently":  research shows that rear-facing is up to five times safer.  And even large toddlers fit in most current convertible seats:  40# as a rear-facing limit is pretty standard these days.

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#9 of 10 Old 06-21-2012, 10:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Virginia Mom View Post
my friend's baby broke both of his legs in an accident....rear facing, feet dangling over the edge...so it can happen......It can be a safety concern when there are moms (and we have all seen them) that use the wrong rear facing seats for larger toddlers.....and then that risk factor increases when car seats are installed improperly. Some of the newer model minivans are also deisgning their bucket seats with awkard angles in them....making some car seats sit unevenly...........

I'm not saying it's impossible for a child to break his legs when rear-facing. What I'm saying is that there are no documented cases of legs breaking because the child was rear-facing. I don't know the details of the accident, but your friend's child probably would have been much worse off - including his legs - if he'd been forward facing. Forward facing is associated with a much higher risk of broken legs. You would be surprised how far forward a car seat travels in a frontal collision. The legs tend to fly up and then hit the seat in front of them at a high rate of speed. And, as has been pointed out already, if the accident is severe enough to break the legs of a rear-facing child it would have put the same child at a huge risk for neck injuries (including a broken neck) if the child were forward facing.

 

It is true that the wrong car seat (or an improperly installed car seat) is not safe; there are people who put large toddlers in infant buckets and that is not OK for sure. But the risk is actually of head injuries as the seat cannot hold a child that big and keep the head from striking the seat or center console in front. The risk is not to the legs. And "how much leg room does the child have" is not one of the factors in determining whether the car seat is safe and appropriate for that child - though it may be a factor in determining how comfortable it is. A rear-facing car seat is generally outgrown when either the weight limit is reached or when the child's head has less than an inch of car seat above it; NOT when the child has to bend his legs or drape them over the side. 

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#10 of 10 Old 06-22-2012, 06:58 AM
 
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Confirming what the other knowledgeable and competent technicians are saying.  It is not dangerous for legs to dangle or touch the seatback.   A forward facing child is 40% MORE likely to suffer a leg injury, and any accident that is severe enough to break the legs of a rear facing child (not BECAUSE they are rear facing, mind you), would almost certainly break that child's NECK forward facing. 

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