Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Extended Rear Facing

In the United States, all babies under the age of one are required to be placed in a rear facing car seat. The law for when you can turn your child forward facing is one year and 20 pounds. Notice, it is and not or. So...
  • If your baby is 11 months and weighs 22 pounds, you CAN NOT legally turn them forward facing
  • If your baby is 13 months and weighs 19 pounds, you CAN NOT legally turn them forward facing
By Harry's first birthday he was big enough to forward face, but we have decided to keep him rear facing for as long as possible. I know every family is different and ERF might not be right for everyone, but I encourage all parents to do their research before forward facing their car seats. 

Here are a few facts about extended rear facing. 
  • Current AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations are to rear face until age two, or until the child outgrows the car seat's rear facing limits (head reaches one inch below the top of the seat or weighs between 35-50 pounds- depending on the seat).
  • Age is a better determination of when a baby can be turned forward facing even though car seat manufacturers go by weight. A baby turned forward too soon (even if they meet the weight requirements) could suffer internal decapitation in a crash because their spines aren't mature enough yet.
  • Rear facing is 500% safer... 500%!!!
But what about baby's feet? Won't it be uncomfortable?

Absolutely not! You can see in the above picture, taken when Harry was about 14 months old, his feet were just starting to touch the seat. As Harry grows, he'll just pull his knees up towards his chest, or cross them. Not a big deal at all. Besides, didn't you usually sit cross-legged as a kid? It's super comfortable for them! 

I've seen a lot of parents hesitant to keep their babies rear facing because of leg space and the possibility of broken legs in a crash. To that I ask, would you rather have a broken leg or a broken neck?

The 500% safer statistic sealed the deal for me as far as rear facing goes. My goal is to keep him rear facing until he's 27-28 months, but since he's so tall we might not make it that long. Either way, I don't see us turning him around before his second birthday.

If you've already forward faced your toddler, you can switch them back! As long as they still fit within the specifications of your car seat of course. Rear facing is, in my opinion, one of the best things you can do for your children. Its never too late!

For more information, check out The Car Seat Lady! It's one of the best car seat sites I've found.

Regardless of if you forward face or rear face your toddler, please, please, please buckle your children in correctly! Remember, there is only ONE correct way to use your car seat! See my other car seat related posts:

Car Seat Safety 

Disclaimer: I am not a CPST, but I have done a lot of car seat safety research. Please read your car seat's manual for proper installation and usage. 


  1. Great post!

    Charlie is 15 months and still RF. BUT he's just barely 20lbs. That's a huge reason. Another reason being that he seems pretty comfy and cozy rear-facing, so we see absolutely no reason to turn him around anytime soon! He's a tall toddler, and even tall ones can still be comfortable :)

    1. Thanks, Michelle! I agree, it looks a lot comfier since they're reclined in the RF position. Sitting upright while trying to take a nap doesn't sound too fun to me so we'll hold off on that for a while.

  2. Awesome post! T is almost 16 months and still rear facing... she is tall but has no problems crossing her legs. The 500% safer stat really resonates with me!

    1. Thanks, Cait! And that's awesome that you guys are still RFing, I'm sure you still have plenty of time left with your seat to do so. The 500% is crazy, I can't imagine anyone doing anything else for their little ones.

  3. I'm glad you posted this!

    When I first had Jack four years ago, I *almost* put him forward facing before 1 year old... I just wasn't informed, thank God I spoke to another Mama asking for carsear recommendations who knew this. I was really upset I didn't know better.

    It's still shocking how many still don't know!

    1. Don't feel bad, you found out and when we know better, we do better!

  4. This is SO important. Good for you taking the time to blog about it. We just turned our daughter right after her fourth birthday; our older child was RF until two and a half, but seats had much lower RF limits back then. I would have left him much longer if I could have.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! That's crazy that you guys were able to RF until 4! I'm guessing you have a Diono or Foonf? I know those seats have a very tall height limit on RFing.

  5. But you do all know there has to be at least three fingers width clearance between the back of the car seat and the seat in front? Otherwise is actually dangerous because in an accident you slamming back against your seat is going to push baby forward in their seat and cause the same kind of damage (ie head pushed forward) that a forward facing seat would. It's just in the picture it looks like the drivers seat is flush against the baby seat.

    1. It was flush, but it was also professionally installed by a CPST. Maybe that's a new recommendation, my son has been forward facing for almost a year now.


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