Rear Facing Child Seats

Why rear facing child seats provide better safety for the child?

Children in their first years need the best protection they can get especially when travelling in a car. Since their body is not fully developed they are under greater risk of injuries in the event of a crash. Their body proportions are very different to those of an adult and their muscular system has just started to develop. For example, in the first two years the size of a baby’s head is approximately a quarter of the whole-body mass whereas for an adult it’s 1/14th of the body mass. For a baby it is much more difficult to lift or stabilise its own head.[1] [2]

In frontal and side impact collisions, a rear facing seat provides the best protection. This is because the shell of the seat provides protection for the two most vulnerable areas of a baby, the neck and the head. In a frontal impact the high loads are distributed over a large area of the child’s back. High stresses in the neck and spine as well as high strain to the chest and head are significantly reduced when rear facing. For side impact collisions the baby is also much better protected because, in most situations, there is a forward impact, either by the impact direction itself or the driving direction of the car. The child gets pressed into the protective rear facing seat and against the side walls.[3] [4]

Besides these facts there are some interesting statistics which highlight the importance of rear facing car seats. Scientific investigations and statistics are consistent – more than 80% of impacts in a vehicle collision are frontal and side. Those types of collisions are also the most dangerous and are likely to result in fatal injuries without proper safety measures, including a robust and correctly positioned seat. [3] [5] [6]

Evidence of the benefits of restraining children up to 4 years old in rear facing seats, in comparison to forward-facing child restraints, has been provided through crash tests as well as real world data. [4]

For example, the consumer information crash tests by Stiftung Warentest report at least double the tension force on the upper neck in forward facing positions compared to rear facing. Recent comparisons of state of the art child restraint seats showed more than six times higher upper neck tension force in forward facing seats.[7]

Comparison between Sweden and Germany of fatally injured 0-4 year-old passengers show significantly less fatalities in Sweden, where rear facing seats are much more common. This study shows that rear facing seats are 5 times safer than forward facing car seats. (see picture)

Leading pediatricians, scientists, the biggest Swedish insurance company Folksam, health organisations like the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), consumer rating organisations and automobile clubs in Europe (ÖAMTC, TCS, ADAC) recommend keeping children in rear-facing child seats beyond 15 months.

How long should I keep my child in rearward facing position?

Swandoo car seats are certified under the newest regulations ECE R129, where it’s mandatory to keep your child rear facing until 15 months. Its products allow you to keep your toddler rear facing in the car beyond 15 months for optimum safety.
We recommend keeping your children as long as possible in rear facing seats provided there is enough space. However, if parents decide to place their children in a forward-facing seat – our convertible group (0/1 seat Marie) has 360 rotation capabilities and also offers a high degree of protection for your child in a forward facing position.

Do rear-facing car seats protect in a collision from the rear as well?

We have received no reports of any serious cases. In general rear-facing car seats provide less protection in a rear-impact collision, in which the same forces are generated as in a head-on crash, than forward-facing seats in a rear-impact collision. However, collision statistics show that serious rear-impact collisions are, in fact, very rare. Less than 10% of collisions are rear impacts. In addition it’s much less likely to result in serious injuries. We do perform rear-impact tests on our rear-facing car seats. The stress values measured in these tests are low. [3] [8]

Does my child have enough Legroom? Is it safe to keep my child rear facing when her legs seem too long?

For older children (3-4 years) it may look like they don’t have enough space for their legs, but they are still very flexible and can sit comfortably cross-legged or with bended legs. They can also put their feet on the rebound bar or on the seat.

The aim of the seat is to protect the essential parts of the body including the head, neck, chest and internal organs. It might appear that legs and arms are less protected when rear-facing but statistics show that the limbs are better protected especially in front-impact situations.

Is it difficult to install my car seat rear facing?

Swandoo products are designed in a way to make installation as easy and as intuitive as possible.
With our installation bases, the system becomes plug-and-play and the green/red indicators makes it almost impossible to install your seat incorrectly.
We also advise having your seat installation reviewed by a qualified inspector to ensure that everything fits well and is correctly installed.

How can I check on my child while driving?

If you are driving alone with your child you can put the seat next to you in rear facing configuration but you remember to deactivate the front seat airbag.

For longer rides, the recommendation is to have someone next to your child in the rear. Be sure to take breaks as the child should not be in the seat for more than 2 hours at a time. This also causes less distraction for the driver and makes it easier to keep their eyes on the road.


[1] Paine, Griffith, Brown, Case and Johnstone, “”The australian experience”, Report, Paper 193,” 18. ESV Nagoya, 2003.

[2] D. Huelke, G. Mackay, A. Morris and M. Bradford, “Car Crashes and NOn-Head Impact Cervical Spine Injuries in Infant and Children,” SAE Paper 920562, 1992.

[3] S. Weber, “Optimierung von Kinderschutzsystemen im PKW,” BAST – Bericht der Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen, vol. Heft F 67, 2007.

[4] L. Jakobsson, “Rearward Facing Child Seats – Past, Present and Future,” in Protection of Children in Cars, Munich, 2017.

[5] A. Carlsson, J. Strandroth, K. Bohman, I. Stockman, M. Svensson, J. Wenäll, M. Gummesson, T. Turbell and L. Jakobsson, “Review of Child Car Occupant Fatalities in Sweden during Six decades,” in IRCOBI COnference 2013, 2013.

[6] P. Lesire, H. Johannsen, G. Müller, A. Longton, A. Kirk, R. Krishnakumar and M.-C. Chevalier, “Safety benefits of the new ECE regulation for the homologation of CRS – an estimation by the CASPER consortium,” in Protection of Children in Cars, 2011.

[7] L. Jakobsson, T. Broberg and K. Andre, “Compact Child Seat – a concept designed around the users,” in Protection of Children in Cars, Munich, 2013.

[8] T. Deter and G. Lutter, “Development of a new Side Impact Component Test Facility,” in 1st European MADYMO Users Meeting, 1996.