Update: CBB Reader Andrea wants parents to keep their kids in rear-facing car seats longer

04/29/2008 at 10:10 PM ET

Update: Anya has been front-facing since she was about 18 months old, but reading Andrea’s missive about the importance of rear-facing your toddler AND watching that video, I would like to have her rear-face again. However, as she’s been front-facing for a year, I’m afraid it will be a challenge now that she’s gotten used to front-facing. Since I figured many of you may be in the same boat, I asked Andrea for suggestions on turning Anya back to rear-face. Here’s what she said:

First, make sure she’s within the rear-facing weight limit of the car seat and that she still has at least 1" of hard shell above her head (measure as shown in this picture). If she’s within the limits, switch the harness so that it comes out of the slots at or below her shoulders, then install.

As for keeping her happy rear-facing, my best suggestion really is giving her some special toys or books that she only gets in the car. If you ride with another adult when Anya is first rear-facing, sit in the back with her so that you can entertain/distract her. I bet she’ll get used to it quickly. Allie is almost the same age as Anya (11/4/05 birthday) and LOVES rear-facing. Whenever I open the car door, she climbs right up into her car seat and starts to buckle the chest clip.

by CBB Reader Andrea, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST)

Lscarseat2Most parents know the importance of keeping children in rear-facing car seats until the minimum of 1 year AND 20 lbs. But many are never made aware of the benefits of rear-facing past that age. The truth is, the “rear-facing until 20 lbs AND 1 year” guideline is truly just the bare minimum. Once a child outgrows the infant seat, he or she should be moved to a rear-facing convertible seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it’s best to leave a child rear-facing until the maximum weight allowed by the seat. (This has actually been their recommendation since at least 2002.) And you don’t need a high-priced car seat to rear-face past 1 year and 20 lbs. – the most affordable convertible car seat on the market has a rear-facing weight limit of 35 lbs.  For most current seats, the weight limit for rear-facing is at least 33 lbs.

Pictured: Andrea’s daughter Allison, rear-facing at 17 months and about 23 pounds.

Click Continue Reading for the rest of Andrea’s article.

A study published in the December 2007 issue Injury Preventionmagazine by of Dr. Marilyn Bull, et. al., compared the injury risk ofrear-facing and forward-facing car seats for children under age 2.(Bull is the medical director and founder of the Automotive SafetyProgram and Kohl’s Center for Safe Transportation of Children at RileyHospital for Children in Indianapolis.) The study concluded that"Rear-facing car seats are more effective than forward-facing inprotecting restrained children aged 0–23 months …  Use of arear-facing car seat, in accordance with restraint recommendations forchild size and weight, is an excellent choice for optimum protection upto a child’s second birthday." The study noted that the benefits of arear-facing car seat were particularly great in a side-impact crash.

Some parents believe that a child must be turned forward-facing whenthe feet reach the back of the vehicle seat or the legs will break in acrash. However, no research supports that claim. In fact, "The lowerextremity is among the most frequently injured body regions forchildren restrained by forward facing child restraint systems (FFCRS),accounting for 28% of their clinically significant injuries,"according to this study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.Others parents may wonder about the comfort of a rear-facing child withlonger legs; this is usually due to the parent’s perception rather thanactual complaints from the child. Most children quickly figure out whatto do with their legs – some sit cross-legged, some bend their legs,some put their feet on the vehicle seat.

According to SafeKids, the certifying body for Child PassengerSafety Technicians, "The rear-facing position reduces the risk ofspinal cord injury in a frontal collision, since the safety seat’sshell supports the neck and spreads crash forces across the entireback."

The necks of very young children do not have much bone-to-bonecontact and are unable to withstand the "shear" forces possible in acrash, explained Rich Costello, Safety Restraints Engineer, TakataRestraint Systems, at a recent presentation to child passenger safety advocates.A newborn’s neck has very little bone-to-bone contact, while the neckof a 3-year-old is more developed and better able to withstand theimpact of a crash. When a child is rear-facing in a crash, the forcesare spread out among the strong carseat shell and child’s strong back.

NASCAR driver John Andretti is an advocate of rear-facing until twoyears old."We must take immediate steps to ensure that our children, our mostprecious cargo, are safe and secure. Make sure all child seats areinstalled properly, and remember that for toddlers, facing the rear issafer than facing forward," Andretti recently said in an editorial forAuto Week magazine.

This crash test demonstrates the forces on a child in a rear-facingcar seat and in a forward-facing car seat, in a frontal crash. Whichcar seat would you rather have your young child in?

More car seat safety resources:


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Showing 68 comments

Candice on

Thanks so much for posting this. I am a huge advocate of keeping children rear-facing for as long as possible.

Vanessa on

I’m so happy to finally see a post about this!
I’m 100% for Extended rear facing and extended harnessing.
Car safety is so important.

Megan on

Thank you so much for posting this. I pass along this information regularly to those I know with small children, but for some reason it is so hard to get through to people. Hopefully with all the traffic this site receives someone will finally get the message.

Today I stunned our ped when I explained that we would be extended RF.

Concerned Mama on

Thank you so much for posting this. I was just thinking about this issue the other day, deciding that I needed to do some research as my son turns 1 year in a month. He will definitely be facing rear for another year, even if he does have to sit cross-legged!

Anne on

I am so glad this topic was addressed!! I am not a tech, but a HUGE CPS advocate. My daughter rear-faced until she was 33 months old (and I had SO many opportunities to explain “why I didn’t just turn her around”).

Kat on

Thank you SOOOO much for this!! This is something I think about daily. We keep our children RF to the limit of their seats and never once a complaint. Im also a big believer in extended harnessing!

tami on

Thank you for this post. More people need to be aware of car safety. I attended a funeral for a 17 month old child who was in a front facing seat during a head on collision. Ever since then, even though I am still not a parent, I remind everyone to keep their children in rear facing seats.

Kim on

I’m so glad that you posted this. We kept our daughter rear facing until she was 32.4 pounds clothed (her car seat supports to 33 pounds rear facing). She was comfortable even though her long legs had to hang out to the side, and I had plenty of opportunity to explain my reasons. We actually only switched her about 1 month ago – she was 29 months old.

Rachel K. on


Thank you for posting this! It’s so great to see this information getting out there to the masses. I was beyond thrilled when my best friend took her car the other day to have the carseats inspected and they turned her daughters seat BACK around. She’s 19 months old and weighs 23 lbs. I had convinced her to keep her rear facing until about 2 months ago when her mom had told her she should turn her around because her feet were touching the seat. I couldn’t reason with her so I was beyond estactic to find out that FINALLY they are using these guidelines where professionals install seats!

The woman who turned the seat back around reassured her that there is very little to no risk to my goddaughter’s legs rear facing whereas forward facing her spine, neck and legs are ALL at much greater risk for injury. I think it got the point across.

Thanks again for putting the info out there :O)

Amy W on

great article, my son RF till he was 34 months and never complained and i felt great b/c i knew he was safe

Christine on

Great article! I’m glad someone has finally written about this on the CBB. My sons rearfaced to 31 and 32 months. I highly encourange parents to consider extended rear facing for the optimal safety of their children.

Lorus on

Wow!! Seeing this article has made me giddy! Thank you for addressing this safety issue. Car crashes are the #1 killer of children under the age of 15. Parents are so safe when it comes to their babies/toddlers drowning during baths yet they aren’t aware of car seat safety which is a WAY bigger issue.

Cait on

My aunt’s pediatrician had her switch my cousin to forward facing at about 9 months of age because Lindsay was so long, her feet pressed up tight against the backseat of the car. He told my aunt he was worried that if they were ever rear ended, Lindsay’s legs could be broken, that with how long she was, it was actually safer for her to be forward facing.

I think it just depends on your child, their length and their weight. If it works for you, great, but there are extenuating circumstances.

Val on

yay for rear facing toddlers! My skinny boy is still rf at nearly 3.5 years.

The information about the length of the child coming into play simply isn’t correct. rear facing is 4-5 times safer. period. There isn’t any information backing up the broken leg theory and tons supporting the neck injury ones. Even if that wasn’t the case, you can fix a broken leg.

Erica on

Yep, my 7.5 month old’s legs have been touching the back of the seat for a few months now, and she probably weighs all of 16 lbs now! She’s off the charts for height! She will be rear facing until she has either hit 33 lbs, or she only has 1 inch of hard shell above her head!

jjmom on

Broken leg or broken neck….I know which one I would choose. My kids rear face until they cannot any longer due to weight, legs have no bearing on my decision on when to turn them at all.

As a few great ladies have said before me, if you want medical advice ask a doctor, if you want car seat advice ask a WELL TRAINED car passenger safety technician.

Awesome article!!


Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! My 20 month old daughter, who is off the charts in height, is still happily rf and will continue to do so until she reaches the weight limit.

Carole on

And Cait, I’m sorry, but recommended or not recommended, it’s not actually LEGAL to have a less than 1 year old child forward facing, no matter what their height/weight/length. I wonder what your cousin’s pediatrician was thinking.

Hedvig on

Rearfacing seats for bigger children are hard to find in the us. Readers in the UK may want to check out http://www.rearfacing.co.uk

emma on

We need some more info about this in the UK! The US seem to have much better car safety seats already (I know several people who have bought their seats from the US because they can’t get the same standard here due to EU laws!). Interesting article!

*AJ* on

My Daughter hated rear facing! Period…it was hard because I had a husband who was deployed and I couldn’t look at her nor access her either if she was rear-facing. For anyone who is a full-time single parent I commend you if you can withstand an infant screaming on a highway, no pull off in sight, and a 3 1/2 year old complainning about the infant screaming! I remember those days. My daughter is a huge 3 year old weighing in at 30lbs (maybe more by now) and 37 1/2 inches. I remember by the time she was one she was uncomfortable and she let me know it in no uncertain circumstances lol. For anyone who has a child willing to face rear after age one great! But every child is different and its not always just an easy snap when your alone trying to drive somewhere and they are screaming about being there. I switched my child when she was around 13-14 months. I am not sure if I would have done it in a compact car but we have a dual cab Tacoma (2003) and for her to rear face was uncomfortable. Like I said anyone who can get your child to do it, I commend you.

tink1217 on

yes please, what do you do if your child is too long before a year? Seriously. I have a friend whose child was too long but 18 pounds at a year. He was so uncomfortable rear facing. He would cry non stop in the car from being cramped. After a month or so of it she asked her pediatrician about it and he also recommended turning him forward. I would love to keep my child (if I have another) rear facing for as long as possible, but what happens if the child is actually too long but not does not quite weigh enough yet at a year?

elisabeth on

My 4 year old is tall but only weighs 24 pounds. I would have to fold her into the seat. I tried turning her around when I first read this artical last year but she was so uncomfortable. Her legs were by her chin. She is a small framed girl she will be well over 5 or 6 before she hits 33 pounds.

Carol on

I agree it’s a good idea to keep them rear facing but I had problems too. The child was so uncomfortable and screamed and I had no access. Good for you if your child is o.k. with it but God help you if they aren’t. Misery for everybody in the car.

tink1217 on

and…what do you say to relatives who refulse to listen about car seats, booster seats, etc… I have a cousin whose son is 5, but small for his age. He has a toddler seat but she doesn’t use it all the time and his father won’t use any seat at all…and he is also a police officer! When I drove her car one night I told her son to get in his seat and buckle up (he knows how) and he refused and told me his dad doesn’t make him and says its ok to use the seat belt!! I couldn’t believe that coming out of a police officer’s mouth! It floored me. When I told my cousin about the weight and height recommendations she had no clue.

Kate O'Connell on

Good stuff! Glad to see this is out there. We see so much bad info! It’s good to see some correct info for once! 🙂

-Kate (CPST)

Stephanie on

Thanks for posting this – I’ve had several people ask if I’ve turned my almost 14 month old around, and they seem surprised when I say no. He’s very tall, but luckily doesn’t complain about his legs…it’s all he knows! I’ll keep him rear-facing until he outgrows the requirements, it’s a small thing to keep him safe.

kelly on

I am so happy to hear more about extended rear facing for toddler’s over a year old. My daughter was born premature, so she was tiny from the beginning, so even though she met the age requirement of one year to put her forward facing, we kept her rear facing until 2 years of age when she was 19lbs. and 28 inches tall. Once she was 2 years old, we upgraded from a Graco SafeSeat to a Britax Marathon Carseat. She never once showed any discomfort issues and didn’t seem to mind riding rear facing. She was able to have books and soft baby toys to play with to occupy her while we went from point A to point B. Thanks again for the info on extended rear facing. I hope more parents consider keeping their toddlers rear facing longer than a year. It could save their life.

Tiffany (CPST) on

Excellent article…. For anyone concerned about leg injury, I’m a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technician — my child rode safely & comfortably rear facing within the limits of her convertible seat until 4 years old @ 97th percentile for height (broken leg = cast it / broken neck = casket!)

Suzanne on

My daughter is a little bit above average in height (60th %) and at 11 months she still has plenty of leg room while rear facing. I think that issues with rear facing and child’s height may have something to do with the seat they are using. We plan to keep her rear facing as long as possible and I specifically chose a convertible seat based on not only safety but for the rear facing weight limit.

Unless she is physically in distress, I’m willing to deal with screaming based on her “not liking” being rear facing. Her first 3 months she hated the car seat and screamed every time we drove anywhere but safety is a non-negotiable item for me.

Stef on

Can the rest of us be rear-facing too? Especially those of us who have already had whiplash?

seosinger on

I think its great that ppl are becoming more aware of car safety for children. However, I agree that it depends on the child. I have a 25lb. 5 yr. old who is in a forward facing seat. Most of her friends are already out of carseats (which should not be), so its a big deal for her to still be in one at all. Also, my 2 yr old is already forward facing b/c she vomits when facing backward.

Michelle on

Wonderful article!!!

I’m so glad that you pointed out that it doesn’t matter how LONG the kids (or their legs) are! My very long-legged 3 yr. old is still riding rear facing. She either sits ‘pretzel legged’ or she stretches her long legs up on the seat in front of her.

She used to be one of those kids that screams and hollered, too, but after awhile she just got used to it, and now she prefers to ride “backwards.”
Even if she didn’t, I would rather have a screaming hollering SAFE baby, than a quiet contented one whom I know is at risk for a broken neck! I would never be able to forgive myself if we got in a crash and she was hurt and I know that I hadn’t done everything I could to keep her safe!

Kids DO holler and scream…but we should do what is best for them, and not ‘give in’ just because they are crying.


Principesa on

Excellent article.

Our 31 month old is still RF and will continue to be until he hits the seats RF limits.

Sarah on

I was really happy to see this too! I am a big believer in keeping kids rearfacing as long as possible, and in keeping them harnessed longer too. My 4yr. old was rfing until 18mos. when we unfortunately had to turn him around as he was at the weight limit for his convertible carseat. He’s over 40lbs. now, but is in a higher weight harnessing seat (it goes to 65lbs. in the harness and then becomes a booster).

For anyone who is concerned about kiddos being too long to rearface, check out this photo gallery.

TwinMamma on

I’m trying to figure out how to delicately email this to a friend who wants to turn her 9 month old twins around (simply for her convenience). Great article. Thanks for posting it!

Randi on

I completely agree with this article even though my 14 month old is foward facing. She has very long legs and her feet were pressing up against the seat really hard. I was afraid that if we were to get in an accident her legs would be broken. I have a Britax boulevard which I consider the best carseat out in the market today. I think you have to look at this study and base it on your own preference.

Jools on

Kids are MORE likely to suffer leg injuries when they are forward facing…they fly forward so hard and fast that their legs strike the front seatbacks and that breaks their legs. Doctors who don’t know this are giving some seriously terrible advice, I’m afraid.

“The lower extremity is among the most frequently injured body regions for children restrained by forward facing child restraint systems (FFCRS), accounting for 28% of their … significant injuries”


Rebekah Branch on

The biggest misconception with the idea that long legs may be injured when rear facing (besides the fact that this simply does not happen) is that the single most common injury for forward facing is broken legs and feet. The most serious injury forward facing is of course internal decapitation. While broken legs can be fixed, a severed spinal column cannot. Either way, forward facing places your child at risk for both of those things and many more potential injuries.

I commonly hear the phrase “my child is unhappy rear facing.” To that I simply reply – my child is unhappy doing his homework or eating broccoli. He’d rather play XBox and eat chocolate. It’s my job to be the parent. That means my child will not always be happy with my choices.

L on

I had to laugh at the above entry. I have a 6 month old and we purposely bought him a carseat that will allow him to stay rear facing longer.

tink1217 on

I totally understand what everyone is saying and I do agree..but how would you like to drive across state with a screaming kid??? Seriously! Not that I would put the baby in danger, but it CAN BE tough! Everybody is so preachy about certain subjects and this is one of them.I am not saying its wrong to rear face as long as possible, but if my kid reaches the weight and age requirements and screams their head off every time we get in the car to go anywhere…as long as I am following the law and have them in a correct child safety seat, correctly installed, I would turn them for their own comfort…and my own sanity.

jen on

Seosinger, Do you really have a 5 year old that is 25 pounds? That sounds unusually small. We tried rear facing a few weeks ago and it did not work well. My younger girls are 3 and almost 2. If your child and you can handle the misery, then that’s great.

Deb on

I am very surprised that CBB posted these comments I have found them to be very much against those ground rules. They accuse Drs to be wrong and “giving out miss information”. The commenters are not professionals and just because they read an article and led the link to that article doesn’t make them experts. Rule #4 NOT TO PROVOKE A FIGHT. 9yrs ago when my child turned 1 I turned her face forward according to law now parents are hugely critized for abiding by the law by the commenters on the internet and this website. Post this comment or not I have had wrote very decent comments in the past NOT posted here and was offended and even more offended that some of these comments have been posted to this story on CBB.

Emily on

Thank you for posting this! I wish more people knew the dangers of forward facing and that it doesn’t matter how long a kid’s legs are when they’re rear facing. My oldest stayed rear facing until just before her 3yr birthday and she was 37in long by then. She learned to cross her legs and it wasn’t an issue at all. I do know though how difficult it can be to deal with a screaming child. I’ve seen some people who put DVD players on the head rests so that their rear facing children could watch movies and stay happy.

Christine on

Another ERF advocate here!
My 15month old, 21lb daughter will stay rf as long as her height and weight allow her!
She is tall for her age, but just crosses her feet at the ankles and she is very comfortable back there (Thank you Britax!)

My oldest just turned 7 and was the only child in his grade one class going to school in a 5pt harness. He just hit the 40lb mark
My middle is 5.5 – 42lbs. They are both in highback boosters now.

Thanks for this very important post!

anysia on

great article! i have an almost 20 month old, extended rear facing child who is also almost 35 inches tall and only 23 lbs. she is tall and tiny and perfectly fine rearfacing.

one thing i’d like to note to those with screaming kiddos in the car-maybe a new carseat would help…. my daughter used to scream nonstop in her infant seat. she has silent reflux at the time and the way it scrunched her tummy seemed to make her uncomfortable (the same thing happened in her swing and one other thing we had for her inside of the house too!) we swapped her seat before a 12 hour road trip half way across the country when she was just shy of 3 months old and WAY too small and young to even think about flipping her forward facing. switching the seat style completely changed her attitude.

you can also drive with a screaming child. i did it for those months and we still have a stubborn child who simply hates being confined. i’m sorry, but screaming is no excuse to risk my child’s life. she has to learn to tolerate some things like this whether she wants to or not. sometimes your child is just a screamer and it has nothing to do with rearfacing or anything like that. 😉

jjmom on

Doctors are medical professionals NOT car seat professionals. Several of the posters here are car passenger safety techs, professionals in the car seat safety arena. Doctors do not have to take a CPST course, and I would venture to say most do not. Many don’t even seem to follow their own governing body’s recommendations.


As someone mentioned, most doctors are NOT car seat professionals, nor do they keep up with the latest research. Therefore, if a doc tells someone to turn their 9 month old ff, they are not only giving out incorrect advice, but it is AGAINST THE LAW.

As far as a screaming kid, been there, done that. My daughter once screamed almost the entire time on a four hour road trip. She was 7 months old at the time, therefore way too young to ff anyway. What should I have done? Taken her out of the carseat and held her? You just have to deal with it.

When it comes to safety, I don’t compromise. Not only will she be rf until the weight limit, but we will be doing extended-harnessing as well.

MomtoB on

Yes, a thanks from me too. My daughter is still rear facing at almost 20 months. When I had her car seat installed at our fire station, the fireman told me of the benefits of keeping her rear facing, and I was sold. He told me he does this for his own daughter. He said the same thing I saw above, “Broken legs are MUCH better than a broken neck.”
My MIL changed her carseat for me, and my mom is on board too. Hopefully grandparents want the best for their grandchild too! Also, it’s your precious child, they should be honoring your requests when it comes to safety. (You may have to give into the cookie!)

islaygirl on

i’m so glad you posted about this. Extended Rear Facing saves lives!

and this crash test is a good one to see, too — when you see how little the rear-facing dummy moves compared to the front-facing, you really see the difference.

joy on

I am big on RF as long as possible. If it where my child I would rather have a broken leg that can be fixed then a broken neck that could kill them. I say RF and for a side note. Their has never been a report of a childs legs being broken. Their is hundreds of cases of necks being stretched because they where forward facing too soon. Rock on Glad to see this article.

Natalie on

Great article Andrea!

My son will be 4 years old in 4 more months and is still safely and comfortably rearfacing. I credit his current well-being to the fact that he was still rearfacing when we were in a very serious head-on collision when he was 22 months old. Everyone else involved in the collision suffered injuries except for him.

My son has yet to complain about being uncomfortable, and at his age, he could and would tell me if he were.

Kids simply do not get uncomfortable from having their legs bent like adults do. They can sit on their knees for an hour without their feet falling asleep or feeling the need to stretch out.

Many children may not like rearfacing if their carseats are still installed at a 45 degree angle. The 45 degree angle is only required for small babies. Once a child has better head control, their seats can be installed more upright.

I will continue to keep him rearfacing until the limits of the seat, or until he shows a true discomfort. Neither of which has happened as of yet.

Lisa on

Go Danielle! I actually cant believe this is the first time this has been pasted here. I have known about ERF for years now. My son is 18 months and will remain ERF til the limits of his seat which is 33lbs so he will be 3-4 by that point.
As far as the leg thing…there has never been one single documented case of a broken leg from rearfacing vs tons of cases of internal decapatation from FF. I know thats ugly but its the truth.
I know in a couple years RF will be mandatory till the limits of the seat and in Europe they wil look at you like you are crazy if they see a kid FFing younger than 5 yrs of age.
Let them scream…they will get used to it period. I would rather hear a screaming child…than none at all.Forget whats easiest…The research shows the truth in whats safest…why would we ignore that and just wait until it becomes law when we know the facts now? Dont turn your babies around..before 33lbs period and get a seat that goes to that max!

Sabina on

What this article neglects to mention, is that putting a child in a rear-facing carseat in the front passenger seat of a car with airbags is extremely dangerous.
This is because the force of the airbag inflating can crush a rear-facing carseat (and thus the child) skull-first into the back of the main seat. This has caused infant fatalies in otherwise minor crashes and is a well-known fact in the infant car safety community, I am surprised it has not been mentioned.

Nikki #1 on

Would it be possible for there to be an article about the various booster seat laws? I faced an issue last year where my son had been in the carseat, not booster seat, for nearly 2 years, and a month before his 8th birthday, the laws changed so that he had to have a booster seat until he was 8 with no weight requirement.
I would just like to know more about the basic guidelines. They are obviously very different from when he was a baby, and I will be having another child next year, so I’d like to study up on the various regulations and standards before then.

Holly on

This information was extremely useful. My son is 6 months old and 31 inches tall and 25 lbs. I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone on whether to keep his car seat rear facing with his legs pinned up, the laws around here are not strict on proper car seat use . This is the best information i could have received. I could never of imagined the results of what may happen with the forward facing car seat.

Kat on

Great article (I’m not the same Kat as above… if you hover over our names, note the different email addresses)

I rearfaced all my kids to the limits of their convertible seats (which have certainly changed with each child, as my oldest is 8 and my youngest is 4) and once I could, I harnessed them all past 40lbs.

car safety is so important since car accidents are the #1 killer of children.

Fabulous article and trust me, Anya won’t care about going back rearfacing or she will love it.

Stephanie Halligan on

Great article Andrea! I am extremely happy that extended Rear Facing information is getting out there now. I turned my son Forward Facing at 1 years old just like I thought I was supposed to. I then found out about Extended Rearfacing and turned him back around at 18 months with no problems. He didn’t fuss at all, like it was normal. So to Danielle, Anya might have no problems at all about switching back to rear-facing. My son rear-faced until he was 23months and 32 lbs when he was too heavy for his seat. He was never uncomfortable, and he loved to prop his feet up. In fact he was more comfortable than when he was forward. Some children’s legs go numb from hanging down while forward facing, so they are actually more comfortable rear-facing. He now rides forward facing in a seat that will hold him until 65lbs or when he is too tall for it. My 5 year old 40lb daughter is also still harnessed. I would love for CBB to have an article on the benefits of Extended Harnessing.

Laura on

I would just like to add support to Natalie’s post about children not being uncomfortable with their legs crossed –

Children are naturally much more flexible than adults and can sit or lie in positions that most adults would feel uncomfortable in. Children instinctively fold their legs out of the way, should they need to. If a child is used to having their legs out straight, then they will no doubt complain at being confined more, but a child who is used to it, will simply follow their instinct to fold the legs out of the way.

The flexibility starts to diminish from around the age of 5 or 6 (usually after they have started school), so thus from this age, children may be more uncomfortable with legs folded in a car seat.

I don’t have children myself but I have observed children’s flexibility through my work as a yoga teacher, specialising in yoga for toddlers and children.

slm on

Granted my kids are older then this now, but I did want to make a comment.
Is it just me, or does that forward seat not look properly fastened? It moves far too much in that impact. And to me it looks as if it wasn’t fastened tight enough.
In that, it makes the video a litle misleading.

now I am not saying anything against rear vs. forward, just my observation.

Keri on

Hi, another CPST here. I just wanted to say how happy I am to see this article here. I think there are going to be hundreds of babies safer to this information. This article could save your baby’s life.

Also, some clarification for a few comments…
The crash tests are done correctly. The seat belt is supposed to stretch in a collision to give you a few more milliseconds before you slam into the seatbelt and your internal organs slam into your body.

Doctors are not CPST’s. In fact, any Dr. that recommends FFing isn’t following the AAP statement…
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital until they have reached at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds. It is even better for them to ride rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.”

Once you see more ERFing kids, it looks like the norm to you and FFing 20lb 1-year olds look “odd”. You can see lots of beautiful, happy RFing toddlers and preschoolers in this You Tube video. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=psmUWg7QrC8

Amber H. on

We have a Britax Marathon and kept our daughter rearfacing until 20 months. It became a fight to get her in the carseat at that point as she would push up against the backseat and made it very difficult to strap her in. We decided to turn her front facing and place the seat right behind the driver so we could use the straps and the LATCH system in our car. I am so happy that we changed her position in the car…the seat feels so much more secure than it ever did in the middle seat. We had a CSPC certified person check our carseat and she said it was perfect. She also was so happy to see another Britax carseat and said she wished more families could afford them.

starlight on


I think the great point of that video is that yes, that seat *IS* properly installed w/ a lap/shoulder belt. The way the seatbelts are designed to give and stretch allows the seat to move that much. If it were top-tethered, it would not move *as* much, but it is still quite a bit. (A top tether is designed to lessen the maximum allowed head excursion… without tether, that’s 32 inches, with, it’s only 28.)

If a properly installed seat can move *that* much, imagine what an inproperly installed seat would do. Scary, huh?

J.M. on

Danielle if you can get Anya to turn back around after all this time more power to you! And let us know how she makes out! I wouldn’t even attempt to turn my niece or nephews around. Well my 3 yr old nephew and niece are both in toddler high back boosters anyways. So they like being able to do the seatbelts themselves. And they do reach the weight limit for them!! They would never go for this turning aroung thing eps. since they hate riding in cars as it is!

It’s amazing how far information has come but how long it took for people to get it after all these years. At 25, when I was a kid I was in a carseat for about the first 2 years and them my mom and dad tossed us in the backseat!

Laura on

Sorry, I did not make the comment you’re referring to – Starlight was the author of that post. Poster’s names are shown underneath their posts, rather than above. Hope that helps.

DivaStar on

I was always under the impression that babies were safe in the middle of the back seat. Has that changed? My baby is 12 so it’s been a while. My sister has a new baby and she has her behind the passenger seat. I thought this was dangerous because in a accident the baby would be crushed between the two seats. Is that still the case?

Rachel K. on

Sabina —
You mentioned
“What this article neglects to mention, is that putting a child in a rear-facing carseat in the front passenger seat of a car with airbags is extremely dangerous.”

I just wanted to add, putting a child in the front passenger seat of a car with airbags is EXTREMELY dangerous period. It does not matter if the seat is rear or forward facing. There are also reports of children being internally decapitated forward facing in front seats of cars with airbags.

A carseat should not be placed in the front seat of a car with airbags period. They shouldn’t be in the front seat of a car without airbags either.

Andrea/BookMama on

DivaStar –

The back seat is always the safest place for children, and you’re right that the middle of the back seat is the safEST spot. However, a properly installed carseat in an “outboard” position (behind driver or passenger) is safe too. There are numerous reasons that parents may not be able to install a car seat in the center – they have more than one child, their vehicle prohibits center car seat installation, they can’t get a good installation in the center, etc. Our two children ride “outboard” in both of our cars because their car seats don’t fit side-by-side, but because I know their seats are installed properly, I have no qualms about it whatsoever.