“Rear-Facing Car Seats Advised at Least to Age of 2”

This article appeared in The New York Times last week, a few days after my birthday and a week before A.’s first birthday. The gist of it is that the powers that be have revised their recommendation on when to turn babies’ car seats around to face front. It used to be age one. Now it’s two. This is not good news and I think they should just take it back. It’s our birthdays, for Pete’s sake. Have they no consideration?

Here’s the thing. I had a plan. It was a good plan, a birthday plan. A pre-party plan.

A.’s birthday is tomorrow, on a a party-unfriendly Wednesday, so her party isn’t until Saturday. So what was I planning to do to mark her actual birthday? I’ll tell you: stuff that she would actually notice like turning her $#*&$! carseat around so she can see where we’re going and not recline backwards in the backseat with the sun in her eyes, that’s what. I was also planning on feeding her eggs, honey and nuts all at the same time (which you’re not supposed to give them until they’re one ’cause of that whole allergic anaphylactic shock nuisance). And maybe sushi. And give her a set of nice kitchen knives.

OK, maybe not so much the knives. But the other stuff.

Goddamit. Stupid National Highway Safety Transportation Board and their dumb ideas.

A. hates facing backwards and I get it. It makes me carsick just thinking about it. And paranoid. I hate not seeing where I’m going. I never take the back-facing seats on trains. and I always take the seat in restaurants where I can see the door. It’s like I was in the mob. I want to see who/what is coming and I want to know how to get the hell out of here when and if I have to. Don’t freak out: I’ll take you and A. with me if you’re there. I just know you’re not casing the joint as well as I would, so just give me the seat already and order your sandwich.

You know that scene in movies where the agent/assassin ticks off all the cool stuff he knows just from walking into the diner? Like how many windows there are, the license plates of all the cars outside, the weight of the guy at the counter, who’s carrying a gun, and why that lady is crosseyed? That’s some mad skills and I want ’em. I used to memorize the license plates on the cars next to us when my mom left us in the car to run an errand when I was, like, eight. Seriously. You know, in case I was interviewed later by the police.

Speaking of which, maybe they’d be interviewing me because my mom left a couple kids in the car while she ran errands.

Anyway, I’m just saying, A. might be better protected in a car accident if she’s facing backwards but is she better prepared for a carjacking where she’ll need a clear view and access to those kitchen knives? Am I right? The article doesn’t mention that scenario anywhere in their assessment. They just go straight for the Swedish stats on babies’ injury and survival rates in rear-facing seats being the best in the world since they force their kiddies to sit with their legs up the backseat until they’re two. Which is weird ’cause the Swedes are tall, so their kids have gotta be basically sitting in a V position by the time they turn them around, right?

Oh, and for the record, I wasn’t going to flip her around because of some misplaced sense of milestone achievement like the interviewees imply. I was going to do it out of concern for A. being able to see where we’re going and my elbow joints which have to bend the wrong way to give her even the tiniest snacka. They don’t have to be such jerks while they’re ruining our birthday plans, do they? No. They don’t. Thank you.

So here’s what it shakes out to: I spend another year reaching over the top of the car seat to feed A. pieces of cheese and driving only west in the morning and only east in the afternoon so she isn’t blinded by the sun coming in the back window. Or I get tinted windows. Like on the immaculately white CSI SUV that came after we were burglarized. (They parked it laterally on a street where you’re supposed to park perpendicular. Bad ass, right?)

Hey. Maybe that’s the birthday plan. Instead of getting A. a puzzle with farm animals and turning her car seat around, maybe I’ll get her an armored Escalade with blacked out windows. Awesome. That’ll come in at about the same price point, right? You only turn one once, right? I’m totally doing this. It’s going to be great. Happy birthday, A.!!!

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3 Comments on ““Rear-Facing Car Seats Advised at Least to Age of 2””

  1. em
    March 29, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    This is all really quite humorous…just in the span of my three babies, the powers that be (American Academy of Pediatrics, NIH, NTSB – pick whichever is apropos to the situation) flip flopped on so many issues it was mind boggling. When baby #1 was born, mum must only put baby to sleep on her tummy…baby number two arrives, mum must put her to sleep on her back, and, quite seriously, by the time #3 showed up, the new rule was to lay baby on his side with a triangulated bit of cloth covered foam wedged on either side. To this day, my mum loves pulling out the snaps of her bringing me home from hospital tucked up in her arms while my father drove. Of course, this was in England, but even the Brits have gone beyond the pale on this. And really, all this car seat advise is hog wash if you never get in an accident…

    • March 31, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      I’ve heard of babies going home in a cardboard box in the backseat!

      We got a sleep positioner for A. when she was tiny (recommended for its slope if they get a cold), but just a couple months ago the FDA came out against them after prevaricating for years. So the circle keeps on turning!!

      (I have on my bookshelf – but haven’t read yet – Ann Hulbert’s book “Raising America” which catalogs all the shifts and changes in parenting recommendations for over the years. Have also heard that Po Bronson’s “Nurture Shock,” which combines and re-analyzes a lot of parenting research, throws a ton of accepted advice into question. Haven’t started that one either. I wonder why, since I have so much time on my hands to kick back!!!)

  2. em
    April 1, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    If you chance upon it, you simply must see Disney’s “Babies” (or perhaps you already have?) The plights of the Namibian and Mongolian babes is heartwarming and hilarious. A mum in a first world country allowing her babe to be so unsupervised would have Child Services knocking at her door in no time. My favourite bit was the Mongolian mum, having just birthed her son, hopping on the back of hubby’s motorbike and taking off with her swaddled babe in her arms.

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