Friday, July 22, 2011

The road's so rough, this I know...

Upon seeing TIH's weight at his six-month check up, our pediatrician laughed and said, "Well, you meet the weight requirement for turning the car seat around, you just got there six months early!"

It was only a couple of months later that I started hearing the stirrings of a new recommendation - to keep children rear-facing until they are 2 years of age.  I assumed, like many things parenting-related, that it was yet another idea of the fanatical subset of mothers.  Last week it was vaccinations, this week it's car seats, next week it'll be Goldfish crackers. 

I can't, nor do I try to, keep up with all of that crap.  I'm all about safety, but sometimes I feel like I have to keep TIH wrapped permanently in bubble wrap to keep these people happy and I can't keep up.

So, when this recommendation didn't go away, when I kept hearing about it and reading about it, I started to get a bit nervous.  Though, I remembered that only a few months prior, our pediatrician had indicated with his flippant comment that he did not agree with this recommendation.

Several mothers that I have a lot of respect for told me they wouldn't dream of keeping their child rear-facing after age one.  And even those that tried to do it eventually found themselves flipping the car seat around after a particularly traumatic car ride with a screaming child. 

These moms made valid arguments.  Eye contact, air circulation, leg-crampage.  Who could argue with that logic?  Not to mention, while I'm not often one to make comparisons to "how things were done when I was a kid..." - let's just say that there were several family vacations where I didn't even wear a seat belt for most of the trip.  I mean, who at my age (or older) didn't spend a car trip or two unrestrained in the back of a station wagon?  (Though, to be fair, I guess I was technically rear-facing.)

So, imagine my surprise when at the very very end of our 1 year check up, my pediatrician took a deep breath and said, "So...let's talk about the car seat."

If I weren't a 27 year old adult, I probably would have plugged my ears and screamed "NANANANANANACAN'THEARYOUNANANANANANANA!"

Instead, I listened politely while also formulating my counter argument.
My counter argument probably came out sounding like a whiny child:
"But, you saaaaaaaaaiiiiiiid before that he would be fiiiiiiiiiine."
"Why did you change your miiiiiiiiiind?"
"But, it's so hooooooooooot back there."
"He's sooooooooooo uncomfortable!"

I'm not proud of it.

He fully admitted he was reneging on his original stance about rear-facing vs. forward-facing after 1 year.  The exact word he used to describe the differences in the safety of one versus the other was "staggering."

It's hard to argue with that.  It really is.  And am I really going to ignore the advice of the medical professional I have allowed to treat my son for the past year?  Especially since I have never ignored anything he has said in the past and this is the first recommendation he's ever given to me that I haven't fully agreed with.

I have asked maybe a dozen other moms about this issue and what they're doing.  The overwhelming majority are deciding to keep their kids rear-facing.

I am really struggling with what I want to do.

Am I kind of wanting to turn TIH around because sometimes he really gets his scream on in his car seat sometimes?  Yes.
Am I now horrified after pouring over lots of research by phrases like "internal decapitation" and am I having nightmares about watching too many videos of baby crash test dummies?  Yes.

An article I read on it to give myself a little more information actually succeeded in pissing. me. off.  Well, really, it made me want to kick Dr. Alisa Baer in the throat.  Fortunately there were people who commented on the article with very well-informed viewpoints (and who didn't describe other parents as "stupid") and even one who included some raw data from some of the studies.

Turns out?  It isn't as clear cut as these doctors (ours included) would like us to think.  (It also turns out it was good I paid attention in my graduate level statistics course.)

So, the verdict?
I. don't. freaking. know. what. to. do.

Here's what I do know: TIH has been a precious little angel in his rear-facing car seat this week.  So for now?  It's staying where it is.

I'm too exhausted from all of my research to even think about turning it around anyway.


  1. Oh you poor thing...hate you are driving yourself so crazy with this. Remember your momma's gut and how you told me it is usually right...well trust it and do what you think is best for TIH. And it will be the right decision. I will admit both our kids turned around at 1 (and maybe, just maybe even very slightly earlier based on a long car trip with a screaming child). With Jackson 1 was fine based on guidelines. With Carson we didn't really hear of the 2 year old thing until AFTER we had already turned him around and then went to his 1 year that point there was no going back. Are these the right decisions? Who knows. But every decision I make everyday...who knows if those are right either. So, trust your gut (and I'll quit my ramble :))

  2. This is such a tough issue. We kept our daughter rear until about 1.5 years. Then summer hit and she was sweltering with no air-flow. So it was heat stroke or the risk of an accident. Heat stroke won. If it weren't an issue, she would still be crabby in a rear-facing position. Don't feel bad either way. You will make the best decision for your family.


  3. @Dawn - A healthy reminder of "trust your gut" is always helpful to me. Thank you so much. I can totally understand why wouldn't turn Carson back around after already facing him towards the front. He would have been like, "Hey guys. We had a DEAL!"

    @Julie - I know you TOTALLY understand the horrible St. Louis summers. Yesterday, my thermometer in my car read 115 degrees. I didn't full cool down until I was in the car a full 30 minutes, and I had the air blasting directly on me the entire time. He doesn't have that. Someone in the article I referenced above said they believe in "safety first, but not safety only." Sometimes you have to be pratical too. Children are still VERY much more safe in a forward facing car seat than they would be without a car seat at all. (Which according to that article a staggering TWENTY-ONE percent of parents are doing.) WHAT?!


Pin me!