A mum has issued a desperate plea after almost losing her 11-month-old baby in a terrifying car accident.
Zoe ten Broek from Yarra Valley in Melbourne is warning other parents about the dangers of turning children around from a rear-facing car seat too early.
Posting to Instagram, the mum began by urging parents to keep reading: "This post could save your baby's life."
"A month ago I put Jax in his seat, did a pinch test on his straps, and then started to make my way to my parents house just like I have done so many times in the past," she explained.
"Though this time we never made it there. Instead the next thing I remember was men putting me in an ambulance and telling me that I had been in an accident.
Jax was no where to be seen, and all they told me was that he was airlifted to the Royal children's hospital in Melbourne."
Zoe told Essential Baby that waking up at that car crash scene was her "worst nightmare come true".
"I was absolutely devastated and terrified. Not knowing what was happening to my baby was just horrible," she said.
After spending a night in hospital by herself, Zoe finally got to see her son.
"Nothing could have prepared me for seeing my little man in that massive bed with so many tubes and wires everywhere," she said
"He had a fractured skull, a brain bleed, high pressures in the brain, and a torn ligament in his neck. It was an awful lot to process, I had no memory of what happened and suddenly I could lose my precious boy."
According to Zoe, tt was "touch and go" for a while, but "four surgeries, four weeks in hospital, and many tears later", she was lucky enough to be able to take her boy home without any permanent issues.
"Not a day goes by where I don't think about what life would be like if we weren't so lucky. If I hadn't known to keep him rearward facing, he definitely wouldn't be here the doctors have told me."
Zoe made the difficult decision to share her story to try and raise awareness about how important extended rear-facing is.
"So many parents and carers are not aware of the dangers of forward facing a very young and fragile child. The impact to their body, and especially their head, neck and spine, is so much greater."
"if you have already started forward facing your young child please reconsider," she writes.
Zoe has had an "overwhelming" response to her story, with thousands of likes and shares, and dozens of private messages from grateful mums.
"It warms my heart to think that maybe our story has saved one little child's life," she tells Essential Baby.
According to Kidsafe, infants are safest if they remain in their rear facing restraint as long as they still fit in it. While the law allows children over 6 months to use either a rear facing restraint or a forward facing restraint, the rear facing restraint offers better protection..
Once a child is too tall for their rear facing child restraint, they should use a forward-facing child restraint (with built-in 6 point harness). While the law allows children 4 years and older to use either a forward-facing child restraint or a booster seat, the forward-facing child restraint offers better protection.
Why are rear-facing seats safer?
Rear facing restraints are highly effective in preventing injuries if used correctly, because they fully support the child's head and neck in the event of a crash.
This is important as infants have relatively large heads and weak necks which put them at particularly high risk of serious injuries if the head and neck are not supported. Rearward facing restraints support the child's head and neck in severe frontal crashes better than forward-facing restraints.
Rearward facing restraints come in three types:
- Type A1 for children up to 70cm tall (approx 6-9 months)
- Type A2 for children up to 80cm tall (approx 12 months)
- and a new category Type A4, for children up to 2-3 years of age