Don’t turn your child’s car seat around just yet

Don’t turn your child’s car seat around just yet

Children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they’ve outgrown them. That’s the updated recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Instead of turning your child’s car seat front facing at the age of two, it is now suggested that you keep them facing to the rear of the car until they reach the height and weight limit for the seat. For many manufacturers, that is 40 pounds.

“If we could all travel rear facing, we would be safer,” says Alix McNulty, injury prevention coordinator for Advocate Children’s Hospital. “It is considered safer for everyone to travel facing the rear; that’s why they suggest a rear-facing seat on a train. But, since we can’t all travel backwards, at least we can keep our kids in a safer traveling position longer.”

McNulty suggests that parents who may be in doubt about when to turn their child around should contact a certified car seat technician. They can discuss safest seating positions in the car, evaluate the proper fit of the child in the car seat and help you understand the height and weight restrictions of the specific car seat you have.

For more information on car seat safety, you can contact the Injury Prevention Program at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

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  1. And what do you suggest the child do with his/her feet? By the time a child is two their legs have already long outgrown the space available for a backwards facing car seat. Do you have any idea how uncomfortable that is for the child? And if the child is uncomfortable, do you have any idea how miserable they can make everyone else in the car (including, incidentally, the driver – how safe is that?). Do the people at the American Academy of Pediatrics even have children?

    Thank heavens my kids are tweens now. The recommendation back in the day was one year old and even that was pushing it. Couldn’t wait to turn them around. Everyone was so much happier.

  2. I completely agree with the Dienne. Many time those who make these policies and suggestions don’t have to deal with young children. While sure it maybe a little safe, it is also extremely uncomfortable for the child. As well it make them fussy an the scream a throw fits an make it much harder on the driver to focus on the road. Which in return can cause an accident. Also since children grow differently then some would be 5 yrs old before they get turned around. Do you know how difficult it can be to get a child who has become independent into a rear facing carseat? I mean really people think about this just a little bit.

  3. I’m also wondering what should you do with the child legs once they reach a certain again. My granddaughter is quite tall for her age but not quite 40 pounds yet. These recommendations don’t seem to make sense.

  4. It would be more uncomfortable, and more miserable if they were injured in a crash while facing forward because they have an incredibly higher risk of sustaining spinal coulum damage that could leave them paralyzed for life….I’d much rather put up with my child’s tatrum or whining for a bit than that dienne

  5. Dianne, I’m sorry but that incorrect. Children are way more flexible than adults and have no problem crossing their legs. It is 500% safer to rear face. Even if it was a concern, isn’t their life with it? Internal decapitation is the result of turning forward too early in case anyone is wondering what the big deal is.
    Please, if anyone is rearing this do listen to the recommendations to max out your seats rear facing capabilities, even if it’s mildly inconvenient.

  6. Most toddlers do not complain about their legs. They either sit froggy style or play with them and put them up on the back seat. All are safer than front facing. My daughter is a tall two year old and she has no problem sitting in a rear facing seat, even on long road trips. My friends and family’s kids don’t complain about their legs either. They don’t know the difference. But once you go front facing, you can’t go back since then they do know the difference and prefer sitting like mommy and daddy.

  7. In many European countries, kids are rear facing until age 4. They don’t complain.

  8. I agree with Dienne and it’s true that children grow out fast their car seat and even if their rearfacing they still are uncomfortable because they don’t have room for their legs too .But they don’t think it’s expensive buying carseats and switching from one to another.

About the Author

Evonne Woloshyn
Evonne Woloshyn

Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!