It looks wonky, but it could save lives.
Car seats have been ruthlessly torturing new parents for decades.
There's nothing worse than squeezing this bulky, 10-pound monstrosity through the tiny door of your compact hatchback. Then, when that's all done, you have to cram a screaming, fidgeting toddler inside of it.
Meanwhile, because of the uneven distribution of your baby's weight, pediatricians recommend putting your kid in a rear-facing car seat until at least age 2. Which means you've got to not only put the terrible, hulking thing in the car, you've got to put it in backwards, where the back is totally unsupported.
The whole thing is a frustrating-as-hell disaster. And yet, you gotta do it. You gotta put that car seat in the car and that kid in that car seat. Otherwise bad things can happen. And you don't want to be a bad parent, do you? Do you???
One possible solution might be to redesign the whole car instead, as Swedish carmaker Volvo is currently proposing.
In their new concept, the baby rides shotgun with the built-in car seat facing the rear. This is how it works:
According to Christina Tynan-Wood of Yahoo! Tech, this could be way safer for babies.
"Young children do not fare well in crashes when facing forward. But in a rear-facing seat, the entire back of the seat supports the child's spine and neck, providing a much better chance of escaping from accidents unscathed."
It also allows the adult sitting in the back seat to face the child and attend to their needs as suddenly and unexpectedly as they often come up.
It's still a just concept design and not in production yet. And like so many other concepts, there's a chance it may never be produced. Which is a potential shame.
Parenting is hard. New parenting is — often — even harder.
Even when you're trying your darndest to keep your kid safe, there are so many mistakes you can make and so many people quick to tell you you're doing it wrong. That's why little quality of life improvements for new parents — like more generous parental leave, Finland's "baby box," and carmakers actually stepping up to build car seat functionality into their designs — are important. They say:
"We hear you, and we know what you're doing is hard. You're not alone. And we got your back."
Here's hoping Volvo actually gets this done. And that more automakers follow their lead.