What if I get hit from behind? Is my child safe rear-facing?
You know the saying “don't sweat the small stuff?” Well, it even applies to rear-end collisions, as they typically are the least severe of all crashes. If you look at crashes from 2009 that were severe enough that at least one person in the vehicle died, only 4% of those crashes were rear-end collisions; 52% were frontal impacts, 27% were side impacts, and the remaining 16% were other types, mostly rollovers. Therefore, it is most important to provide protection for frontal and side impacts, because these crashes tend to be the most deadly.
But what about in a severe rear-end crash? Here is a real story of a 16-month-old girl who was rear-facing in a very severe (65mph) rear-end crash—and had not even a bruise on her body!
What if my child gets motion sickness from sitting backward?
As someone who, to this day, still gets very motion-sick, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Motion sickness happens when the brain gets mixed messages about motion and can't reconcile them; your body feels stationary as you sit in the car but your eyes tell your brain that your body is actually moving. When the brain can't figure out how to make sense of these seemingly contradictory messages, the body feels sick. Volvo did a large study of several thousand toddlers and found no difference in the rates of motion sickness between those riding rear-facing and those forward-facing. But statistics don't help when it is your child who is throwing up! Here are some suggestions.
The most important thing is to make sure your child has the best view possible out the BACK window. Kids and adults who get motion-sick will tell you that looking out the side windows is a quick and easy way to feel very sick, very fast. Why? Things move very quickly out the side windows, which confuses the brain even more. Looking out the back window (for rear-facing kids) or the front window (for forward-facing kids or adults) makes it seem like you are moving slower than the side windows make it seem. For rear-facing kids, sit their car seat as upright as the manufacturer allows and, when possible, remove the vehicle's head rest to give the child the best possible view out the back window. If possible, have the child ride in the center of the back seat as this spot typically gives the best view out the back window. You may want to consider trying to block your child's view out the side windows, since you can't really tell a 2-year-old not to look out the side window! This sunshade will do just that.
Make sure you aren't inadvertently making your child feel sick; if you are giving him toys or books that require looking down and concentrating, this will likely make him feel sick. Try occupying your child with songs and games that require looking out the window. If you can, travel at naptime or bedtime as your child will not feel sick while sleeping.
Many parents use food as an activity during long car rides, but for a child who gets motion sick, this will only make matters worse. Feed your child something starchy like bagel or crackers about 1-2 hours before the car ride, and then try to not feed him in the car.
If you have to take a long trip, talk to your pediatrician about using an anti-nausea medication. You can also try some natural, homeopathic remedies, including accupressure wrist bands (but make sure the one you get is not a choking hazard for a young child), and ginger.
Some kids are going to get motion sick regardless of the direction they are facing—and the worst part, besides watching your child feel ill, is having to clean the car seat when it is full of vomit. To decrease the clean-up, have your child wear a "puking poncho" that keeps his clothes and the car seat dry.