Going back to rearwards-facing with the Volvo Toddler seat

Everybody knows by now that I have been invisible to you guys the past few months because of my car seat campaign #CarseatFullstop. You also know I turned Charly back rearwards-facing and I promised I would tell you all about it and review the Volvo Britax car seat. Sadly the Volvo car seats are not currently available in South Africa 22.08.17 I will update when they are available again.

COPYRIGHT MLM peekaboo-volvo-britax

I also want to share the biggest thing I’ve learnt since I started my obsession with car seat safety and a review on the brand new generation Volvo seat. It might be of particular interest to you if your little one is between 9kgs and 25kgs (roughly between 9 months old and 6 years old). If they are, you will be entering to win the Volvo exclusively rearwards-facing car seat. That sounds a LOT more complicated than it is, I promise!

I’m sure you’ve noticed that a lot of the conversations around car seat safety lately have focused on keeping your child rear-facing for as long as possible. If you haven’t, here’s the breakdown. Your little one should be rear-facing until they are at least 4 years old. As mentioned above, the Volvo Britax toddler seat hopes to allow children who are up to 25kgs, around 6 years old, to face backwards.

Volvo Britax feet

WHY REAR-FACING?

Research has proven that it is safer than forward facing. I saw a comment someone made earlier around the fact that they don’t “believe” the stats, videos and research. This isn’t a fairytale or Father Christmas we are talking about, it is factual data about trying to save as many children’s lives as possible.

Rear-facing isn’t a “new” thing, although in SA we are substantially behind the curve. In Europe, particularly Sweden, this has been the norm for years. And the physical results are so simple, there is no question. Swedish car crash statistics, when compared to countries where most children travel facing forwards, are remarkable. The example below is Sweden and Germany, there is no difference until the age of 1, when most German children are moved forward-facing, as opposed to Swedish children who only make the turn around ages 3 or 4.

Rear-facing Volvo Britax stats

If you think about an accident, even a little fender-bender, what is the likely result for you as a driver (in a seatbelt)? Whiplash. When I was younger I was in 3 of these, small crashes, nothing bleeding or broken. Just the most horrendous neck pain. This is because of the force that your head is thrown forward at the moment of impact.

Now stop for a second. Consider the fact that all little ones have those adorable bobble-head type proportions. If you look at the body as it grows, your little one’s head is huge and heavy in comparison to the rest of their body. Then you think about the development of their skeleton  most of you will know that a young child’s bones are still cartilage, almost elastic, and they slowly start to harden as they approach puberty. The neck is the weakest part of a baby and small child. So the biggest and heaviest part of your baby – the head, is supported by the weakest and least developed part of the – the neck.

volvo-britax-body-proportions

Now think about whiplash again. A forward-facing bubba is going to have the same crash force throwing their overly-big heavy head forward, with only that delicate undeveloped neck to support it.

And THAT is why rearward-facing is so very important. Rear-facing seats, which Volvo worked with Britax to develop and test as far back as the 1960s, are based on astronauts seats. Astronauts are rear-facing to ensure the force of takeoff and landing is evenly distributed across the entire back and solid head, as opposed to just the neck. This is exactly the same in car seats. Instead of the vulnerable neck, the back and big head take the force of impact. Makes sense right? Have a look at this video, it makes it incredibly easy to understand the actual impact on your little one.

volvo-britax-rear-facing

So, then you understand why it is so important, and then reality sets in… At least it was that way for me…

MY CHILD IS ALREADY FACING FORWARDS, SHE WILL NEVER ALLOW ME TO TURN HER BACK!

I turned Charly forward facing at around 1 year old. I literally can’t figure out exactly when, but it was the second I believed it was safe. She HATED being in a car seat, she hated being in the car, period. Somebody always had to be in the backseat with her, holding her hand or she would scream blue murder. I was so scared to drive with her screaming, that I actually just didn’t drive alone with her. Ever. I think the first time I did, she was around 18 months. And I still haven’t driven further than town (once), alone with her. I, like SO many of you, turned her to face forwards the second I believed it was safe. At least 3 years too early.

charly-forward-facing

And now, with one of the most challenging children I have ever encountered, at the peak of the terrible twos, at 2 and a half, I was facing having to return her to rear-facing. I was terrified.

Let me start by saying that when I agreed to receive and review the Volvo toddler seat, I did not realise it was exclusively rearwards-facing. I was determined to try get her to face backwards, because I was suddenly terrified of being in any kind of accident with her facing forwards. But at the back of my mind, I really expected her to go so ballistic that I would give in and turn the seat forwards again. I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination perfect.

Still not realising the Volvo toddler seat was exclusively rearwards-facing, but with the seat arriving from overseas within a week or two, I started talking to Charly about the seat. Hyping it up. Every morning when we drove to school, the sun would shine in her eyes and I would say, “Ooooh, when your new car seat comes, you can face backwards and the sun won’t be able to get in your eyes.” When it rained and she strained to see the windscreen wipers going on the windscreen, I would say, “Charly! When your new backwards facing car seat arrives, you will be able to watch the little windscreen wiper on your very own back window.”Volvo Britax mirror peep

I pulled out the mirror I had bought when she was born (never used because our previous car didn’t have back headrests), and we played with it. I showed her how we could see each other even when we were facing the opposite directions. I played up the fact that it would be her very own quiet time, where she could be alone and think about her day or close her eyes and rest.

By the week of the seat’s arrival, she was telling anybody who crossed her path about her new car seat that is facing backwards. Granny knew all about it, her teachers knew all about it, her school friends knew all about it, the cashiers, managers, cleaners at the Spar knew about it. Every day she came home excited to see if her new seat had arrived. I didn’t let this lull me into complacency though, because she is 2. And just because she seems happy about something doesn’t mean she will be in that moment. So when it came, she squealed and screeched and stroked it and sat in it and demanded we put it in the car. And I said no.

Volvo Britax arrival

The seat arrived on the Tuesday and we planned to install it on the Saturday. I wanted to do all the research beforehand, read all the manuals and watch a few installation videos. I also wanted Charly to sit in it, play with it, get used to the straps etc.

Playing with the Volvo Britax

The Volvo seat itself is truly gorgeous. The seat cover is the most stunning soft-to-the-touch charcoal wool (which is removable and machine washable using the 30°C wool cycle).

volvo-britax-up-close

THE VOLVO EXTENDED REAR-FACING CHILD SAFETY SEAT REVIEW

Every morning she asked if it was time yet. And on Saturday it finally was. The seat was surprisingly light to carry and easy to move around in the car. Having read the manual and looked at the install images a million times, I was sure I could get it in without any issue. You know what I didn’t account for? The fact that Brett and I generally suck at anything like this and end up wanting to hurl things at each other.

This seat can be safely used with a 3 point seatbelt or a lap belt.

Before we even took the seat outside, I had adjusted the headrest (a simple pull of a button) and adjusted the seat tilt and straps with Charly in the seat. This seat is SO safe! Most car seats are installed with seat belts alone. The Volvo has the seat belt, a footprop and 2 tether straps.

install-volvo-britax

To my mind, the tether straps are what makes this seat feel like NOTHING is going to move it. They are affixed to anchorage points in the car and then tightened. This is where we ran into our only issue with the installation. In Volvo cars, there are specific loops provided on the base of the front seat to properly attach these tether straps to. We watched the really great installation video as well, but we had a good few snipes between us before we decided the safest place to attach them in my car was the bolt area of the bracket where the front passenger seat is attached to the car’s chassis. I took photos and described the way we had done it in detail to Peggie Mars (my car seat guru from Wheel Well) and she assured me that we had done it right.

Threading the belt under the seat cover and through the holes provided in the seat was super simple – high-five us! There are lock-off arms (clips) on both sides of the seat to lock the belt in place – check! With so many seats, that’s it – the full extent of the safety. Not with this one :)

Once you have double checked the tilt of the seat, and got the seat belt properly fixed and tight, there is a “footprop” that extends from the back of the seat to the footwell area – another really easy thing to adjust. So the belt is holding the seat at the front and then the footprop is propping it firmly from the back and the tether straps are fastened and tightened to the body of the car.

That little bit of frustration we encountered with the tethers doesn’t come close to the peace of mind I have with how safely secured she is. Honestly, if the installation was too easy I would have worried it wasn’t safe. Once you know that not all cars have the loops and that you can secure it to the brackets, it is very simple to install.

BUT HOW DOES CHARLY FIT AND BEHAVE REAR-FACING (and other concerns)?

You guys, she loves her Volvo seat. She still tells everybody we walk past that they must come look at her seat that faces backwards. Picking her up at school has become educational for her friend’s parents! She loves being able to look me in the eye while I drive – I can glance at her in the rearview mirror without turning and not have to take my eyes off the road! She also has extensive conversations with herself in the mirror. And she loves telling everybody that she is sooooooo safe.

Happy Volvo Britax kid

The Volvo toddler seat is relatively narrow, so it can fit in the middle of the car’s seats, leaving legroom in front of the seat if your front seat can move forward – you need to make sure that the seat is being supported by the belt, prop and tethers and not pressing against the passenger seat. The way I set Charly’s seat up is against the back seat.

What surprised me was that she is actually quite deep in the car seat, which is silly – the surprise that is. The whole idea of the seat is to protect them from all angles, so the fact that she is snugly inside the high side panels and deep shaped seat to provide her with the best protection in the event of a collision, should not have surprised me at all. But this means that most of the length of her legs is actually contained in the seat. Her feet rest comfortably against the back of the car’s seat, when she isn’t sitting cross legged or with her legs in the air or any other of the ridiculous toddler moves she decides on in the moment.

Volvo Britax in

As for comfort, you need to keep in mind that toddlers are very flexible. If you look at them at any given moment, they are generally sitting with their legs bent. When they are very little, it is even better for the development of their hips and spine. A lot of people have said that surely their legs would be broken in a crash if they are bent in some way. According to British research there are no known cases of children having broken their legs while rear-facing; although their is research that proves it happens when they are forward-facing.

And the big question I get a lot – and was my biggest concern, what if I get hit from behind?! I am going to use an exact quote here, as it worked to set my mind at ease, and I hope it will for you as well.

“In a rear end collision both vehicles are moving in the same direction, which throws the car that is hit from behind, forward. This means that the forces of the crash are far lower than they are in a frontal impact where the vehicle comes to a sudden halt. In a rear facing seat, the child’s vulnerable head is positioned towards the centre of the vehicle, away from the point of impact. So rear facing is safer in all types of crashes, the only time rear facing would have the same effect as forward facing, would be if you were to reverse into something at high speed, and that is extremely unlikely.” http://www.rearfacingtoddlers.com/faq.html

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GIVEAWAY CLOSED & WON

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  1. DOWNLOAD the amazing FREE Children & Cars Manual! It is full of research, facts and answers to your questions based on over 50 years of experience.

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Comments

  1. Kate Elliott says

    Hello!

    I see these seats are no longer available in SA. Do you know where one could import from? Investigating all options at the moment as I need to get a new car seat for my son. I have also entered your other lovely competition for the Besafe Izi Plus : )

  2. Yvette Newton says

    My 2 year old is still rear facing in his car seat but it isn’t as secure as I’d like the car seat to be (it moves around slightly). He is about 13kgs. We are trying for our 3rd baby so a new and safe seat would be amazing to keep precious bundle safe and snug too.

  3. Michaela says

    My little boy is 10 months and 11 kg’s. I’m adamant that he needs to be in a rearward facing car seat for as long as possible. It’s scary how far behind SA is, as I’ve been struggling to find the right seat, so few options. His infant seat is getting too small now. Thank you for sharing this with us!!

  4. Ronel says

    My eldest is 4 years old and weighs 17.4 kg. She’s currently front-facing but we’ve been looking all over for an extended rear-facing carseat for her that doesn’t require ISOFIX. Her younger sister (2 years) is blessed to have a rear-facing carseat up to 18 kg (still a lot of kg’s to go!).

  5. Angie Hausner says

    My little boy is nearly 15 months and weighs roughly 11kgs. He is still in his first rear facing seat but is bursting out of it now. I tried to keep him in it as long as possible, and while I have been shopping around for a new one. Thanks for this info on rear facing… it really makes such safety sense! The VOLVO BRITAX INFANT SEAT truly does tick all the right boxes.

  6. Bianca Bradfield says

    My children are 5 ( 17 kgs) and 2&1/2 (13kgs) but thia would be for a rainbow baby on their way. My children are both rear facing :)

  7. Eileen Bruyns says

    My daughter is 3 and a half years old and weighs 12.9kg. We have an old model mazda and it only has a lap belts at the back and so the britax would be perfect for us!

  8. Abigail van Der Merwe says

    My little boy is 22 months and is 14kg. He is currently forward facing and this has really got me determined to move him to rearward facing but I can’t really afford another car seat. It would be a relief if I won one!

  9. says

    That’s very interesting. That video made it very clear. Fortunately Nicky is 4 now. We are very happy with the batman car seat though, I don’t’ see him giving that up!

  10. Claire Lai Lam says

    My little girl is 3 years old in 3 weeks and 12kg – we’re nearly at the weight limit for RF on her seat, so would love this prize!!

  11. Shaaista Mahomed says

    My little girl is 2 Years old and she weighs 11.2 kg’s and I have a baby on board, he will arrive 1st week December.

    Hi I really love this cause, just this morning I saw a car in front of me with two toddlers. One standing in the middle and the other standing on the front seat. I got so angry and tried to tell her to please buckle them up.

  12. Lara says

    Such an interesting read. Thank you for sharing. We are expecting our first in March 2017. We would love to give our baby the best in safety. #volvo #carseatFullstop

  13. Kerry says

    My little man is 5 months and 6kgs atm, but I would love the Volvo Britax Max Way for when he gets to 9kg’s so that I can keep him rear facing!
    Thanks so much for this opportunity!!

  14. Helen Odendaal says

    I have a 20 month old daughter who currently weighs around 12 kg. She’s a tiny girl :-) She will have many good year’s use of a rear facing seat.

  15. Wernich says

    our little rapscallion is due in december, so one of these will come in handy. and the way people are driving in jhb, i think i should get one of these for myself too. 😀

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      I want one too!! They are soooooo gorgeous 😀 Good luck – for the giveaway and the new addition!!

  16. Stephanie says

    Little boy of 19 months forward facing and would love to turn him rearward facing.

    He’s weighing 18kg at the moment.

  17. Maritza van Wyk says

    My son is 20 months old and weighs 13kg.

    Thank you for this great informative article, I have sent the link to a few pregnant colleagues of mine too :)

  18. Jaclyn Bennet says

    My beautiful daughter is almost 8 months old and weighs 8kg and will be needing a new car seat very soon so I would love to keep her safe with this amazing seat!

  19. Lynnith Andreou says

    hi there! This is an awesome campaign! I have 3 boys, ages 3.5yrs, 5 yrs and 7. My youngest weighs 15kg+ A new carseat would be a blessing

    • Pregnant In Cape Town says

      Hi Sophia,
      She definitely needs a booster seat. The seatbelt is only safe once they are over 1.5m tall. Good luck xx

  20. Bongi HILL says

    These car seats look amazing. Love the detailed manual with proper research- thank you! My son is 11 months old and weighs 10.8kg

  21. says

    Dudie is 6 years old, weighing 25kg’s.
    But now I also have a new baby on the way who should be making his appearance early February 2017…..
    If I am selected, you may choose the prize :-)

  22. Julie says

    Done! Crossing fingers and toes that I win this seat for my 13 month old, 12kg Mister Eli Jack, who really needs to move out of his infant car seat! :)

  23. Tamarah says

    O is 11 and a half months and around 8kg. She has a great infant seat, but we’ll need to relook her toddler seat. Really love the look of the Volvo Britax and will buy it ifrom we don’t win.

  24. Julie Jones says

    I would really love to win this! My daughter is six months old and weights nine kilograms, and I really want to keep her rear-facing for as long as possible.

  25. Cirsten Van Den Heuvel says

    Please pick me I’m desperate for a comfy rear facing car seat. My baby suffers so bad rear facing with car sickness, he cries non stop in the car seat. He’s only 7.1kg so is no where near ready to be forward facing and I had to put him forward facing to stop the crying , it was very traumatizing. Maybe a more comfortable rear facing car seat would help. So desperate to have my baby safe in a car seat but yet comfortable.

  26. maryke Coetzee says

    Our big boy turned 1, 12 days ago. He weighs 9.4kg. Was born a preemy and now hes the love of our lives.

    Loves to smile and laugh. Cutest little man ever!

  27. Jonelle says

    I loved this review and im soooo glad she’s happy rear facing. Oden (age 1) is 11kgs eek. Definitely time to swap him around and I want to win this!! Fingers crossed xx

  28. Nicole says

    I have 3 daughters ages : 6yrs, 3yrs and 14months.

    Currently only my 14month old is rear-facing.

    My 3 yr old is in a car seat but is forward facing (she is 16kgs)…if I won the car seat I would change her back to rear-facing.

    My 6 yr old sits in the middle of her two sisters and just wears a seat belt (there is no room for a booster or another car seat (this situation worries me the most)…she is 18kgs.

  29. Sulika says

    My boy, Ben is 10 weeks old and weights 6.2kgs. I would love to win The Volvo Britax seat for when he gets to 9kgs. I liked you blog post, you cleared a few things that I have been arguing with my hubby about! Like.. Getting hit from behind.. Holding thumbs, I would realylove to win.

Trackbacks

  1. […] We’ve had quite a few car seats over the years. Most of them forward facing, except for this one and the new born sized one that came with the kids pram. Forward facing car seats are super convenient for inserting and removing our mini me’s from the vehicle BUT we all know rear facing seats are the safest. Ok? All agreed on that? Good. Let’s move on. (If you don’t get it yet – read this amazing article by Mandy-Lee, the founder of #Carse… […]

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