It's funny how sometimes doing "the right thing" gets you all sorts of judgment coming your way. We're all supportive of certain parenting choices, to an extent. Like breastfeeding. Everyone acknowledges breastfeeding is good for babies, but do it "too long" and all of a sudden you have to defend this choice that was phenomenal a short time earlier.
Lately I've been getting all sorts of side-eyes for the fact Thatbaby is still rear-facing in his car seat. He's the only one in his preschool still rear-facing (both his old and new preschool). And almost all of our friends flipped their kids forward facing long ago.
For some reason, even though no one would question having a 4 month old or 8 month old rear-facing, like breastfeeding, if you do it too long, somehow it loses all its benefits. Except it doesn't.
So why is Thatbaby still facing the back of the car? Because it's safer. It's as easy as that. A child in a forward facing carseat is five times more likely to be seriously injured or killed than in a
rear facing one. Kids skeletons are still ossifying at 2, 3, 4 - and that ossification is what makes it so much more dangerous to be facing forward. They are at a greater risk for internal decapitation, chest, rib, and internal organ damage. It doesn't matter how big or small they are, because bones don't calcify faster based on weight or height. That five times number is kind of crazy. That means in 100 accidents, 8 kids in rearfacing carseats would be injured, 40 kids in forward facing carseats would be injured.
We're super lucky in that we get to experience all the terrible things you hear about in terms of why people flip their kids around. Thatbaby is not a great car-kid. And he never has been. He has been a screaming maniac in the car. He has no leg room back there. He has fought getting into the carseat. We have a very small car. But even with all these things, we find other ways to deal with it so we can keep him rear-facing as long as possible.
We put up with his screaming in the car, planning long trips for naps or bedtime. We do a lot more night driving than we used to. Instead of turning his carseat when he started fighting us, we turned it into a "big boy game." Thatbaby has been crawling in and out of the carseat by himself since he was 18 months old. And when he still doesn't want to get in? Well, it's much easier to push up on the back of his knees when he braces against the back seat.
As far as the small car with no leg room, well we found a carseat with a small footprint to take up less space. And Thatbaby has no problems with the lack of leg room. He crosses his leg or puts them up on the seat, or to the sides of the carseat.
And we do lots and lots of talking/singing in the car. Thatbaby loves to sing the soundtrack to Frozen and have long long long conversations. He talks nonstop in the car. But if it keeps him rear-facing for longer, then I am just as happy to keep it that way.