Monday, March 21, 2011

Swedish Parenting: Rear facing Until You Can Drive

Another one of the things you learn when you have kids in Sweden is that rearfacing car seats are really the ONLY way to travel for any child until the age of 4 or preferably 5. In fact if you spend a lot of time here you may start to wonder why cars aren't all built with only the driver sitting forward facing and everyone else facing backward (sorry driver, but someone has to take one for the team).

There is, in actuality, no Swedish law that says that children HAVE to face backwards, it is only strongly recommended. That said, if your kids are forward facing before the age of at least a large 3, you will be subject to many 'how could you' stares.

 Swedish carseats, I think, are the safest in the world. They are built to carry a children rearfacing until they weigh 55 pounds and they are raised to give more leg room.

In the US Little Swede has a rearfacing carseat that looks like a Barka Lounger - complete with beer/bottle holders on each side. The Swedish model is without such luxuries, but hopefully will keep him safer.

It does surprise me that in a society that is, as the US, so safety conscious towards children, that this safety step has been all but ignored. I've heard lots of reasons: no leg room, kid can't see anything, can't watch the DVD player - but it seems odd to me that in a society when people are happy to lock up their kids rather than allow them to play outdoors due to stranger anxiety, this one concrete thing you can do to help your child is ignored.

The AAP now recommends rearfacing car seats until the age of 2, but as it isn't the law, many people seem to ignore this.


  1. We had our kiddo rear-facing in at least my car forEVER by American standards. It was only when we moved to Sweden that we ended up turning her around (just before age four). I guess we are contrarians no matter where we are. I'd still prefer her to be rear-facing but it didn't work for some reason in the American car seat/Swedish car combo.

  2. Word! I couldn't have said it better myself :)

  3. Just like any safety gear, the baby's car seat is very useful for protecting your toddler. Just recently, I heard that the rear-facing baby's car seat is safer than the front-facing one. There are studies which support this and I've also watched videos showing that this is true.

    1. Why do Swedes put their car seats in the front passenger seat?

    2. Their front seats are capable of turning off the air bags.

    3. I wanted to add that I've seen two seater BMWs have car seats in the front. No air bag, then it's okay. Not as safe as the center, back seat...but do-able.

  4. Hi, do you have any links or information about what the laws are for car seats there? I am moving there and trying to figure out what type of car seat I will need- I am in Australia so wasn't sure if the seats were similar (we're stricter than the USA). Thanks!