Aussie mum's dire warning about baby car seats – here's what the experts say

The former children's ICU nurse is pleading with parents to follow her advice to keep your kids as safe as possible on Australia's roads.

Mother-of-two Beki Giunta is urging parents to follow her advice and keep their kids in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Source: Instagram
Mother-of-two Beki Giunta is urging parents to follow her advice and keep their kids in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Source: Instagram

An Aussie mother-of-two has issued a desperate warning to parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats for “as long as possible” in a bid to save lives. Beki Giunta, who worked as a registered nurse in a children’s intensive care unit, says she’s seen some “pretty awful stuff” that continues to haunt her –which is why she’s pleading with mums and dads to follow her advice.

“Don’t be tempted to turn [children to forward-facing car seats] because they cry, it’s not worth it,” the 33-year-old told Yahoo News Australia, adding that doing so “could literally kill them”.

If you get into a collision, the impact on the child can be about four times greater, she claimed, and that "can result in spinal decapitation.” However experts disputed the precise claim to Yahoo.

Instead the Queensland mother, who has a 16-year-old and three-year-old child, recommends keeping children rear-facing until they are at least four years old which is at odds with governmental advice. In Queensland, children are allowed to be in forward-facing restraints from six-months-old, however the recommendation is to keep kids in rear-facing seats for “as long as their size allows”.

Government guidelines allow children to be in forward-facing car seats from six-months-old but the Queensland mother says that could
Government guidelines allow children to be in forward-facing car seats from six months but the Queensland mother says that should be much longer. Source: Kidsafe

“The fact that there is zero education on car seat safety is my biggest issue,” Giunta said. “There is no care from our government to prevent death in a car for a child. They recommend six to 12 months to turn a child when that could literally kill them. The awareness needs to spread.”

Giunta, who issued the warning in a TikTok video which has since been watched some 90,000 times, is also pleading with parents to prioritise quality car seats. “When you’re pregnant, spend the most amount of your baby money on a car seat that will last them until they are four years old or more rear-facing,” she urged.

Professor Julie Brown heads the injury program at the George Institute for Global Health at UNSW, and is also the co-director of the Transurban Road Safety Centre at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA).

She says “while the best practice absolutely is to keep a child rearward facing for as long as possible”, it’s not for the reason Giunta stated.

“There's no difference in the mass of a child if they're rearward-facing or forward-facing,” she told Yahoo News Australia. “The child's mass doesn't change, and the force [during a crash] is about the mass of the child. The force will be applied to different parts of the body, but it’ll be the same level of force.

“The reason that rearward-facing is a good thing for young children is because the way restraints work is they tie you or couple you tightly to the car and that will reduce the force.”

Professor Brown explained the restraint applies a force to the body and when you're rearward-facing in a frontal crash, the force is distributed over a larger part of your body then when you're facing forward without the seat protection.

“Restraints are designed to apply that force to the strongest parts of the body,” she said. “So generally the message about staying forward-facing for as long as children fit in a rearward-facing restraint is a good one and aligns with best practice advice.”

As Kidsafe also notes, infants and young toddlers have relatively large heads and weak necks which put them at particularly high risk of serious injuries. "Rearward facing child car seats provide the required head and neck support that a child needs," the organisation states.

There is another reason to keep kids in rear-facing car seats, according to Professor Brown, and it’s got to do with oversight.

“In frontal car crashes, rear-facing car seats are a little bit more forgiving for errors in restraint use,” she said.

“So if the harness isn't as tightly secured as it should be in a rear-facing restraint, it’s not as big a problem in a frontal crash, and we do have lots of problems with errors in use. So I think a more important message to all parents, regardless if their children are forward-facing or rear-facing, is that it’s really critical that the restraint is used as it is intended.”

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