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Young children at risk in forward-facing car seats

Parents are not aware of rear-facing seat benefits

Volvo crash test dummiesWe recommend keeping a child rear-facing for as long as possible

Millions of parents in the UK could be risking their child’s safety because of confusion over child car seats, claims Volvo Car UK.

One in 10 parents opt to change their child to a forward-facing child car seat, or turn it around from a rear-facing one, before their child reaches nine months old, a survey commissioned by the car manufacturer has revealed.

As babies and young children’s heads are large and heavy, and their neck muscles are weak, they’re at far greater risk of injury in a forward-facing car seat as their head could be pulled forward by the force of a crash – in a rear-ward facing seat it would be more supported.

Visit our guide to choosing the best child car seat to learn why it is so important that you use the right child car seat for your child’s age, and visit our child car seat reviews to find one that passed or rigorous tests, and avoid the ones that scored badly.

Rear-facing child car seat for longer

Which? advice is to keep your child in their rear-facing infant carrier for as long as possible, preferably until they are 15 months old, or the crown of their head reaches the top of the seat, or they weigh 13kg.

The Volvo survey also found that 71% of parents questioned changed their child to a forward-facing seat before he or she was 18 months old, and 35% changed them to forward-facing at between nine and 12 months.

In addition, 36% of parents said they felt there wasn’t enough help and advice available when they bought their seat and 31% said there wasn’t enough choice.

Follow these links to find out which are the best car seats for babies and the best car seats for young children.

Extended rear-facing child car seats

One way to keep your child rear-facing for longer is to buy an extended rear-facing car seat, a seat that can be used and stay facing backwards as your child grows.

Which? has tested more than 100 child car seats, including extended rear-facing child car seats, in our unique crash tests that go further than the UK standard test.

We’ve found that there are pros and cons to this type of car seat, take a look at our guide to rear-facing car seats to find out why they can be safer for toddlers – provided you choose the right model.

If you’re looking for a child car seat, see crash test results in our child car seat reviews – we’ve found worry differences between a good and bad car seat – and watch our video guide to buying the best for your child.

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