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 Toddler Car Seat Rane 1794334|
End Date: Sunday Jan-19-2014 12:51:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $129.99
Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL- Rear faces from 5-45lbs and forward faces 20-80lbs.
|SUNSHINE KIDS RADIAN XT SL CAR SET|
End Date: Thursday Jan-16-2014 13:12:48 PST
Buy It Now for only: $144.99
Britax Marathon- Rear faces to 5-35lbs and forward faces up to 70lbs.
|BRAND NEW Britax Marathon 70 G3 Convertible Car Seat with Safecell Onyx|
End Date: Sunday Dec-22-2013 3:59:22 PST
Buy It Now for only: $201.99
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.
-“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.
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.