Extended Rear Facing

Rear Facing Car Seats

Many people think that once their child turns one and hits 20 lbs that they have to turn their car seats around and have them forward facing. Recommendations have changed and they are now finding that it is a lot safer to keep your toddler rear faced until at least 2 years old and 30lbs. It is commonly referred to as "Extended Rear Facing". The American Academy of Pediatrics has been recommending this for a couple years now and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just hopped on board.

Studies have shown that extended rear facing is five times safer in most types of automobile accidents (that’s 500%). The reason it’s safer is because when a child is rear facing the seat absorbs most of the crash forces in an accident. The seat helps to distribute the force of the crash over the entire body which helps protect the head, neck, and back of your child. When a child is forward faced and gets into an accident their head abruptly moves forward and this puts stress on their neck and spine.

Extended Rear Facing is only safer if you have a proper car seat. The good news is that many manufacturers are taking notice of these new recommendations and they are now making seats to accommodate. There are many good car seats on the market right now that allow you to rear face your toddler until 2 years of age and beyond.

Many people misunderstand and think that the recommendations are saying to leave their child in their infant carrier seat. That’s not true at all. In order to do extended rear facing you are going to want to purchase a convertible seat once your child outgrows their infant seat. A convertible seat will allow you to rear face your toddler and later when the time is right you can turn them around to be forward faced. There are also 3-in-1 seats on the market that allow you to rear face, forward face, and booster.

Car Seats that accommodate Extended Rear Facing:

Graco My Ride 65 – Rear faces from 5-40lbs and forward faces from 20-65lbs.

Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat Coda
Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat Coda $178.95
End Date: Monday Oct-20-2014 13:31:00 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $178.95

Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL- Rear faces from 5-45lbs and forward faces 20-80lbs.

Britax Marathon- Rear faces to 5-35lbs and forward faces up to 70lbs.

Britax Marathon G4 Convertible Car Seat Onyx DL91825
Britax Marathon G4 Convertible Car Seat Onyx DL91825 $199.99
End Date: Saturday Oct-18-2014 11:00:26 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $199.99

Costco Scenera- If finances are tight this is one of the cheapest convertible seats that you can find. They rear face from 5-35lbs and forward face 22-40lbs. They retail for around $40-$50.
There are many other convertible seats on the market, so do your research and shop around. It’s important to find a seat that is right for you and your vehicle.

Common Misconceptions:
-“My toddler has really long legs so he will be uncomfortable.”
That is not necessarily true. Young children are flexible and they easily position themselves to be comfortable. They simply bend their legs or sit cross legged.

-“If they have long legs couldn’t they break in a crash if they are rear faced?”
Yes, although unlikely, their legs could possibly break. I personally think that a broken leg is better than the alternative (a broken neck).

-“How can I entertain my child in the car if I can’t see her?”
Honestly, your main focus should be on driving and you shouldn’t be trying to entertain your child.

Helpful Tips:

Install a shatter proof mirror to the back seat of the car. That will allow you to look at the reflection in your rear view mirror and see your child. Your child will also like looking at its reflection and it will help keep them entertained.
Always follow the weight and height requirements for your seat. If you are unsure what they are you can always contact the manufacturer and they will let you know.

11 thoughts on “Extended Rear Facing

  1. I use to be an EMT and I wrote a pamphlet on car seat safety that recommends rear facing for 3-4 years as well as “extended” use of 5 point harnesses (because 40 lbs is just too small to not be in a 5 point harness), thought you might be interested: https://acrobat.com/#d=8Er-YgFZqKdc09WF6sxKWA
    I think this is a great website! On the subject of possibly breaking legs in a crash with “extended” rear facing, there are no document cases of this happening, although I suppose it is possible. My son rear faced for almost 40 lbs (3 yrs old for him) and never had any issues being uncomfortable. Obviously we never crashed so I have no way to say if his legs would have been OK or not, but I go on the fact that there are no document cases of this happening, while there are many cases of broken necks, internal decapitation, and the like with forward facing at 20+ lbs.

    • Kelly – Is your pamphlet still available? The link brings me to the adobe home page. I would like to show my husband why we shouldn’t turn my 3.5yr old around yet. Thanks

  2. I read that a child’s neck muscles are not fully capable of withstanding whip lash until the age of 5! I’m happy my 4 year old is little and still able to sit rear facing.

  3. I hear so many parents who have very selfish reasons for not wanting to keep their children rear-facing. I really don’t understand this. It’s NOT ABOUT YOU! It’s about the safety of your child. Please remember, they only have one life and you want them to be healthy and happy. This will not happen if they are killed or seriously injured because they were not rear-facing.

  4. Sunshine Kids has changed name. It is now Diono, and they have great seats (very similar to the Sunshine Kids) I have an RXT & a GTX. It is the hights Rear Facing Limits I have found, and it is suitible for those really tall kids. And to top it off it has a 10 exp. date, and is a 3 in 1 seat!

    The leg breaking “issue” has a simple physics answer: An object in motion will stay in motion. Their legs will bend at the hips and move up toward the back of the safety seat.

    And so many parents I know say it is inconvenient to have their child rear facing. My response: Since when did haveing a child become a convenience?

  5. does anyone know if there is a car seat out there that accommodates taller children AND extends how long they can sit rear facing? looking at a chicco nextfit convertible and a britax marathon.

  6. This is a great article! My son is about 14 months and we plan to rear face until 2 years. It drives my husband crazy, so this is another great resource on the topic that I can show him!

  7. So I’m looking for a good car seat that you can have rear faced possibly past 40lbs?? My son is only 31lbs and almost two! We got in a accident today and even though the car seat wasn’t damaged I still feel better to just get a new one! Better safe then sorry!! (Everyone is ok from the accident we go rear ended and so thankful my son is still rf) I just want a safe carseat that will be great for rear facing to the age of at leat 3 maybe 4!! Thanks!

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