It’s a common question asked by new and experienced parents alike: when can a baby face forward in their car seat? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and National Highway Traffic Safety, the answer is not until they are at least 2 years old. In fact, the AAP now recommends that all children ride rear-facing until they reach the maximum height and weight limit for their car seat.
When Is the Right Time to Transition?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its recommendations and stated that “it is safest for infants and toddlers to ride rear-facing in a car safety seat as long as possible until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the seat’s manufacturer. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing car safety seat, they should be secured in a forward-facing 5-point harness car safety seat for as long as possible. Until they reach the weight or height limit for infant car seat.”
And that certain limit for most car seats is between 40 and 50 pounds.
Is Rear Facing Better?
Rear-facing car seats are much safer for young children than forward-facing seats. In the event of a crash, a rear-facing car seat will support your child’s head, neck, and spine. On the other hand, a forward-facing car seat can put your child at risk for serious injuries, including head and spinal cord injuries.
In addition to being safer, rear-facing car seats are also more comfortable for young children. Since they are facing the back of the car, they can see you, and you can see them. This makes it easier to soothe a crying baby or keep an eye on a wiggly toddler.
Finally, young children often fall asleep in the car. If they are facing forward, their head can lull forward and restrict their airway, which could lead to serious health problems.
However, we know you are waiting to make the transition. Still, it’s better to delay as long as possible or wait for them to reach a certain age or weight and height limit. Then you can make the transition confidently and for the betterment of the child.
Can my baby turn around if they get fussy?
If your baby is older than 2 years old, has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, and You’ve already switched them to a forward-facing seat. Then, you might be wondering if it’s ok to let them turn around if they get fussy on long car rides. The answer is no. Once your child is facing forward, they needs to stay in that position for all future car rides.
Won’t Their Legs Be Uncomfortable?
One of the parents’ main concerns about keeping their children rear-facing is that their legs will be cramped.
However, children are flexible, and this is the safest position for their legs and most car seats are designed so your child’s legs can rest comfortably without being restricted. In fact, many experts believe that it’s actually safer for your child to be in a rear-facing seat with their legs bent at the knees than it is for them to be in a forward-facing seat with their legs extended.
If you are still concerned about your child’s comfort, you can try putting a pillow or blanket behind their legs to prop them up. You can also buy car seats that have built-in leg supports.
If they still complain about it, you can take a break, let them stretch, and relax. They should be comfortable.
My baby is hitting the height/weight limit for their car seat; what do I do now?
If your baby has reached the maximum height or weight limit for their rear-facing car seat, it’s time to upgrade to a bigger, forward-facing seat with a 5-point harness. It would be best if you chose a seat that has good reviews and is easy to install correctly. If you need help finding the right seat for your child, you can always ask your pediatrician or visit a local baby store.
What If I Have to Drive Somewhere Without a baby car seat?
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to drive somewhere without a baby car seat, the best thing you can do is to keep your child in a rear-facing position. You can do this by putting them in a rear-facing infant carrier or by putting them in a forward-facing seat and turning it around so that they are facing the back of the car.
Aren’t Rear Car Accidents Just as Bad?
One of the main reasons parents switch their child to a forward-facing car seat is because they think that rear car accident are just as bad as front car accidents. However, this isn’t true. In fact, rear car accidents are usually much less severe than front car accidents because both cars are going in the same direction, which means the force is going to be less.
Rear-facing is better because the majority of the impact in a rear car accident is absorbed by the car seat, not your child. Additionally, Rear-facing car seats protect your child’s head, neck, and spine in the event of a crash. In fact, according to the statistics, rear impacts account for around 25 percent of all accidents.
On the other hand, front car accidents are much more severe as compared to rear car accidents.
As a new mom, it’s natural to want to do everything you can to keep your baby safe. Following these guidelines will help ensure that your child is as safe as possible while traveling in the car. Remember, rear-facing is best until at least 2 years old or until they reach the maximum height and weight limit for their particular seat. And even then, keep them in a 5-point harness as long as possible before switching to a booster seat. After that, they can be transitioned to a forward-facing seat with a harness. As always, consult your car seat’s instruction manual for specific guidance on when your child can transition to a forward-facing seat. By following these guidelines, you can help keep your little one safe on all of your adventures together.