When Melbourne mum Zoe ten Broek buckled her 10-month-old son Jaxon into his car seat in July 2020, she could never have imagined the horror that would unfold just minutes later. But she says one crucial decision saved her little boy’s life.

After waking from his nap, Zoe decided to take Jaxon to her mum’s place for dinner. She sent her mum a text, grabbed her bags and put Jaxon in the car.

“Two minutes later we crashed,” Zoe told Mouths of Mums. “Half an hour later I regained consciousness; all I see is valleys around me and no Jax. Someone was telling me all is okay and they were airlifting me to hospital. I kept asking where Jax was but he was already gone. The rest of the day was just a blur for me.”

rear facing child seat 6

rear facing child seat 3

rear facing child seat

rear facing child seat 2

Jax had suffered serious head trauma. His skull was fractured, he had a bleed on his brain and he’d torn a ligament in his neck.

“I didn’t get to see Jax for 24 hours as I was taken to a different hospital. My mum had been making decisions on my behalf as I was too sedated. She kept tried to keep me informed with calls and messages but nothing really registered with me. So when I first saw him it was really really shocking.

“I was horrified that he didn’t even look like himself. His head was bandaged up and everything was swollen, from his head to his toes. It really hit home that I could loose him any second.”

What is the car seat ‘pinch test’?

Car seat pinch test

Zoe credits Jax’s rear-facing car seat with saving his life, as well as the ‘pinch test’, which she did after buckling him in just before the crash.

“The pinch test is a one second test that will safe their life. You run your thumb and index finger along the seatbelt. If you can pinch it between your two fingers it’s not tight enough.”

Little Jax remained in hospital for a month, undergoing major surgery four times. Now, almost two years since the accident, Zoe continues to raise awareness of the importance of keeping children in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible.

“There is very little information available for new parents unless they actively search for it. Maternal health nurses provide no information, there are no pamphlets on this topics in waiting rooms, sales assistants aren’t educated properly, mothers groups etc. As new mums we all get educated on SIDS, choking, drowning etc. Why do we not get educated on the most riskiest thing we do every day; Driving!?”

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A post shared by ZOE (@jax.and.i)

Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Kidsafe updated the National Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles last year. They recommend keeping children in rear facing restraints as long as they still fit.

Kidsafe explains, “Infants have relatively large heads and weak necks which put them at particularly high risk of serious injuries. It is best to keep children in their rear facing restraint until they reach the maximum size limit – rear facing restraints provide the required head and neck support that a child needs.”

Zoe says parents who may have already turned their children to forward facing earlier than four years old should reconsider.

“My only hope is that parents and caregivers have the opportunity to make educated decision,” Zoe said. “I truely think that if people understood why we do extended rearward facing everyone would make the same choice. My ultimate dream of course is to change the law, like so many other countries have done, to make it illegal to forward face to at least two years.”

How long did you keep your children rear facing in their car seat? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • such an important message


  • My kids been quite long in rear facing car seats ( I think until 2.5yo as they been to big to sit that way)


  • All my kids have read faced until 4 years of age, I feel our laws need to catch up with the times in the US it’s illegal to forward face until 2, here it is 6 months! At 6 months babies are only just learning to sit properly let alone endure the force of a crash!


  • So happy that he is doing well now. This article really is valuable to the readers as it is so important to keep our little loved ones safe and alive.


  • That is such lifesaving information that needs to be shared. So glad that they’re both okay now.


  • So pleased to hear that he’s ok.


  • Poor little fellow. Heartbreaking to see him like that. Shows how important car seat safety is.


  • It’s great news that he’s okay now. My boys were never rear facing or in the back seat if I was driving on my own. It wasn’t something that was done when my boys were small.


  • I’m so glad he’s okay. A good warning to other parents.


  • Poor little guy, got so emotional reading this! My kids would have both been forward facing by that age I think as we just followed the usual directions.


  • This is so heartbreaking to see such an innocent baby in that condition. I am glad they both survived and it’s an eye opener for parents to check on the car seat safety.


  • It’s so raw seeing these images and a great reminder that restraining children in their seat properly and safely can save a life


  • Those photos are absolutely heart wrenching. I’m so glad everything turned out ok.


  • Would be more beneficial to watch a pinch test demo


  • I’m so glad it all ended well.


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