And now for the highly anticipated rear-facing car seat discussion!
Did you know that most people think the requirements to turn a child from rear-facing to forward-facing are that the baby has turned one year old and that he or she weighs 20 pounds? This is sort of true, but it is only a minimum requirement. It is actually recommended that they stay rear-facing until the maximum limits of the car seat (in rear-facing mode). For many chairs this means about 33 pounds.
“33 pounds?” you say. “That is the size of a two or three year old!”
The answer is, “Precisely!” Some go longer that. Height and weight are more important indicators than age!
Research shows that rear-facing is the safest for small ones due to the large size of the head, and the smallness of their neck muscles. Like a cannonball on a string. Now, why would we want to meet the minimum requirements when it comes to safety with our little ones?
These people spell it out pretty good:
So hopefully you noticed that if your child is in an infant car seat (the kind you carry and clicks into a base) the next step is not a forward-facing car seat, but a convertible car seat. This means it can be strapped rear-facing AND front-facing. You can even buy convertible chairs that have weight limits up to 70 pounds (in the forward position). For example, with the Recaro Signo, the baby can rear face until 35 pounds, THEN forward face until 70 pounds! Now, I don’t guarantee the little one won’t outgrow this chair height-wise before reaching the 70 pound point, but it will last a good long while (until he or she needs a booster chair) and you will be glad knowing that your baby/toddler rear-faced as long as possible and that same big kid was in a 5 point harness as long as possible!
(note: I’m not necessarily promoting the Signo, but I do know someone who recently purchased one if you want to ask any questions)
Back to rear-facing:
“His legs would be scrunched up.” You say.
Well, this is true for many, but they say broken legs in a crash are better than neck damage. I believe it.
Here’s a picture of some scrunched up legs and a good read:
I’m guessing you won’t be into the musical tug on emotions used in this one, but it lays out some details with example videos:
I have now covered the main points I wanted to cover:
car seats expire so stop using that old one from who-knows-when
rear-face as long as possible (30-35 pounds for many chairs)
5 point as long as possible before moving onto a booster seat