Forward-facing verses Rear-facing for convertible car seats?

Melissa - posted on 01/06/2011 ( 33 moms have responded )

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My daughter has outgrown her infant car seat. We moved her into her Graco Myride65 convertible carseat but put it in rear-facing as recommended by our pediatrician. He actually told us she should be rear-facing for two years! She hates it. She screams the whole time and seems really uncomfortable. She can't see anything because the sides are much higher and wider than her infant seat. The instructions that came with the car seat say rear-facing for infants 20-40 pounds and forward facing for toddlers 20-65 pounds. My daughter is 22 pounds and about a week away from turning 1 year old. Is it safe to turn her forward-facing and what about the pediatrician's recommendation? We are really confused.

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Stephanie - posted on 01/09/2011

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The following video is more than enough for me to be convinced about keeping my son rear facing as long as possible (I was already sold long before seeing this) We too have a mirror so that we can see him and he can see himself so that keeps him entertained. Though no amount of screaming from him would make me change my mind his safety is the most important thing to me!

Charity - posted on 01/08/2011

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I also use the same car seat you do. My son is happy in it, but I also have a mirror on the head rest facing him so he can see himself, that way he has company. I figure that he has never faced forward, so doesn't know the difference. Also, if you have ever watched the videos of the crash test dummies in rear facing vs forward facing seats, you will not have your child forward until you must. Legally, at 1yr or 20 something pounds, its ok to forward face. I personally, figure that saftey over prefrence of my son any day. Have you checked to make sure that there is nothing poking her in the seat (you probably thought of that already) Good luck! I agree with amy!

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This is from car-safety.org

When used properly, rear-facing carseats provide significant safety advantages in frontal, frontal offset and side impacts. These types of crashes are far more frequent and severe than rear-end crashes. For these reasons, rear-facing is the safest mode of travel, especially for infants. In the USA, this recommendation is valid through the 35 or 40 pound maximum rear-facing weight limit of newer convertible carseats, or until the child outgrows their convertible carseat by height. The height limit of a rear-facing carseat may be listed in the owner's manual. A child is also considered too tall for a rear-facing seat if the top of their head is within an inch of the top of the carseat shell. It is NOT considered a safety issue if a child's legs are bent at the knees in a rear-facing carseat, or if their feet can touch the vehicle's seat back. At a very minimum, children should remain rear-facing until AT LEAST one year of age AND 20 pounds in weight. In countries like Sweden, children are often kept rear-facing much longer, even to 3 or 4 years old. Auto related injury and death rates for rear-facing children in Sweden are near zero because of this.

Andreana - posted on 01/14/2011

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It is reccomended my the AAP to keep the child RF as long as possible, babies are flexible their legs can be scrunced up, hanging over the side or propped up on the seat in front of them. I would personally have a child that is scrunced up RF then a decapitated one FF, thats just me. The law is 20lbs AND ONE YEAR, dont turn her til then at least.

Mary - posted on 01/11/2011

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My son out grew his infant carrier awhile ago, but we got a evenflo converntible carseat and he seems to enjoy it . We have a mirror for him, mainly so I can see him but he can see me as well. When both my hubby and I are in the car I sit in the back and this usually makes him very happy. I want to keep him rearfacing for as long as possible but I have a feeling he will be too tall for the seat before he is too heavy. Thats why we had to move him out of the other one. I just feel safer with him rearfacing.

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Mikaela - posted on 11/18/2012

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I actually just had an argument with my child's father about this, she is one but just 18 lbs. I understand you want your kids to feel comfortable but the way i look at it is would you rather have them comfortable or as safe as possible? Because in my opinion i'd rather have my child as safe as possible. I found this article while trying to explain to him the reasoning behind the pediatrician's recommendation, hope it helps! http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/21/car...

Kim - posted on 01/23/2011

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I am so glad that your pediatrician recommended keeping her rear-facing until age 2. I hope all pediatricians start giving the same recommendations, and that people follow that advice. It is so important to wait until at least then to switch her seat around. Her neck is nowhere near strong enough to support her heavy head in case of accident, and her back is in a much more dangerous position in such a case. There are tons of videos on YouTube about serious accidents leading to death and very serious injury in babies and young children that would have been nothing if they had still been rear-facing.
I moved my son to a convertible carseat at 4 months, and I think it might have helped to do it younger (for future reference). I am going to leave him rear-facing until his body does not fit anymore (age 3 or maybe 4?). I actually tried my 6 year old daughter (who is very tall and leggy for her age) in his seat rear-facing, and she fit just fine and said it was comfortable. The thing that really helps my son is one of those mirrors that fit on the back seat, so he can see me in the rear view mirror, and it plays music, and it has a remote to turn the music on and off that he can play with. We always have toys, music, a snack, etc. in the car, and he does fine most of the time. He will be one on the 29th, weighs 22 pounds as well, and his safety is more important than his comfort. I am sorry she is unhappy, but she will get used to it. She has never been forward facing, and she has no idea that it is even a possibility. Do everything you can to help her get used to the new seat without resorting to switching her seat around yet. God forbid some irresponsible driver were to hit you; you would never forgive yourself if something were to happen to her. (I hope that doesn't sound harsh; it is said in love and with respect to your commitment and concern for your beloved daughter!) Good luck, Mama!

Sarah - posted on 01/22/2011

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I too am having this dilemah. My son turned one on the 11th and he is almost 21 lbs. but he is very long above average for his age. I have a very small compact car and his feet hang over and he also has no room. However he does not seem to mind as I give him one of his favorite toys. I am getting ready to buy another car seat and we are still not sure as to when we should turn him but the way our car is we will have no choice but to forward face him when he is 22 lbs. This will be the only way the car seat will fit. We are in the process of looking for another car however our finaces are very poor. We actually had to put his infant seat in the middle this was the only way it would fit rear facing. This was done at one of the places you can go to to make sure that your car seat is installed the proper way. I am excited as well for him to see the world and his mom and dad, I am also worried though as I don't want anything to happen to him.

Anna - posted on 01/20/2011

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Danielle,
Is the law that you *must* turn it around at that point or that you *can't* before then? Two very different things, and part of what we're debating here. In the States, it's not before 20 lbs *and* one year old, but studies advocate waiting beyond that minimum.

Danielle - posted on 01/20/2011

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in australia (n.s.w actually) the law is to turn the seat around at 6 months or 8 kg of weight. not sure what the law states where u r but thats what we have here. my little one hated car rides facing backwards but now she loves it cos she can see everything facing forward

Sarah - posted on 01/18/2011

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Ask you doctor, but personally, I would turn it around. We turned our son's around at 11 months and I confessed this at his (yesterday) one-year check up and it was not a problem, He's really tall and was kicking the back seat and not having a good time.

Just turn it around. She's big enough where as long as you have all the straps in the right position, she's going to be fine.

Anna - posted on 01/18/2011

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I guess it comes down to whether science and proven safety records or feelings/gut/heart is a better way to decide how to protect a child.

Donna - posted on 01/18/2011

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imy son is one on friday and i put him in a forwrd facing seat last week as he has got too big for the other and he loves it being able to look at the world as it goes by i would say do what you think is best for you and your daughter melissa

Courtney - posted on 01/18/2011

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Emily, what do you think causes whiplash in adults? When their neck is stretched so far that the muscles and tendons need to reheal and go back to normal. An infant/toddler/small child in a car accident has a MUCH higher chance of internal decapitation when FFed too soon.

Anna - posted on 01/17/2011

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Emily,
Searching "rear-facing car seat" and "decapitation" turns up hundreds of hits about a crash injury infants/toddlers can sustain called internal decapitation. AY is right to post such a warning.

Emily - posted on 01/17/2011

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ANDREANA YOUNG: What makes you think that turning a child FF will cause decapitation if in a crash?! Have you read something that says that?! That seems Way over dramatic and might really scare people... I don't see how for a second that the harnesses or chest clip could decapitate a child! if its tightened to where you can only fit one finger under the clip... the baby/child would be kept in place.
I have a britax Boulevard with head support and evrything... they just made a new model even better than before as I was just hit but a 19 yr old running a Red and my daughter was unharmed completely. DON"T forget babies never know whats coming so they don't brace themselves like adults do when they see a car coming... that greatly changes teh injuries sustained!!
No one is going to get decapitated becuase you turn them front ward.

Emily - posted on 01/17/2011

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Did I ever say the facts aren't there?! Pretty sure I didn't so It would be appreciated if you would tone down your comments to someone you don't even know. As I said to Melissa who POSTED the topic... SHE should go with her gut and what I think is the most credible the NHTSA as well as probably right along with what she feels is the directions that came with teh seat considering they are the ones who put the seat through all the tests etc.
And I did turn my daughter around but was somewhat considering turning her back around myself except then its harder to hand her things adn see her.
And I WAS just in a bad car accident when I was hit by a girl running a red light, so if theres anyone who is super worried about the debate its ME!
THANK YOU!

Emily - posted on 01/17/2011

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You should ALWAYS follow the seats intended instructions! But the AAP and EVERYTHING Ive ever read say ONE year AND 20 lbs!! I have NEVER heard anyone say 2 years... thats a little crazy! How would a 2 yr olds feet fit smashed against the seat!? They are tall by 2 and theres NO WAY a 2 yr olds legs would have anywhere to lay rear facing... I also PERSONALLY wouldn't listen to a doctor in that area cuz medicine and car seats have nothing to do with each other and thats not a doctors field of expertise. I say if YOU, the childs mother feel her head is strong enough, she weighs at least 20 lbs, and she would be happier... then turn her around.
In California, you can call the highway patrol and have them check out how its installed to mke sure it correct and ask them or check the NHTSA... they are absolutely what I would follow.
Im surprised when I rolled down how many people said they have heard 2 years also... Ive never heard that from anyone!
Good luck and always go with your gut and the proper authority on the subject and then ur fine!

Anna - posted on 01/15/2011

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Most studies emphasize RF as long as possible. Thankfully, my Gracie is small for her age so it will be easier to keep RF longer. She turned 1 today and is 18 lbs. I want her RF at least one more year.

Nicolette - posted on 01/15/2011

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My daughter just turned 1 on the 14th of January. We moved her a big girl car seat not to long ago, and she is very safe. We took the car seat to the Firefighters and Safety thing they were having in my town and had them place it correctly in the car. It is forward facing. They said for her age and weight she is perfectly just as safe as she was when she was rear facing. =]

Brooke - posted on 01/14/2011

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I will keep my boy RF until the max for his convertible (Britax) seat, 45 lbs I believe. I have a portable DVD player that I velcroed onto the seat back so he can watch Baby Einstein movies rear facing. This way he is entertained AND safe.

Shaneen - posted on 01/14/2011

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Keep her rear facing til AT LEAST one year. If you get in a wreck their head can come OFF of their body. My baby is a big guy and I'm still keeping him RF

Dionne - posted on 01/14/2011

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We actually just put our daughter in her big girl car seat last night, she turns 1 on the 21st of Jan and is 20lbs or so. She is forward facing :) Did this with my other 2 as well as this age. Law states 20lbs or over can be forward facing. (in ontario, canada)

Janielle - posted on 01/11/2011

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thank you stephanie! i am thinking the same thing, just didnt want to cause more damage if my seat interferes with his!

Stephanie - posted on 01/10/2011

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Janielle, if it were me I would keep him rear facing regardless of the tight squeeze.

Janielle - posted on 01/10/2011

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daddy and i have been disagreeing on this one! dominic will be 1 next week, he sits rear facing in a convertible carseat with a mirror so we can see each other! i want to keep him rf as long as possible, but the carseat is large n i have a small car, so the only way to fit it is behind my seat, but my seat is right against his because the car is standard, so i have to have some room!! a new car isnt an option right now, and weve been through 4 carseats, always with the same problems!! is it safer facing forward, or wedged between the seats??

Brittany - posted on 01/08/2011

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we turned out son about a few mths ago(i know early but he wouldnt stop screeaming in the car) he is about 22lbs.. he likes car ries now! How ever i have a friend how just turned her 2 year old back to a rear-facing carseat(she read something online about safe have them rear facing untill 4 years) .... so im all so confussed about this...

Kasey - posted on 01/07/2011

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My son will be 1 on the 28th and I just turned him around this past weekend. He never had any problems in his infant seat and never cried in the car. But he his rather long and his feet were hanging pretty far off the back of his infant seat. At his last appt he weighed 25 lbs so I figured I could turn him around now. I did do some research as well and all the articles I read recommend leaving your child rear facing as long as possible. Some even said they left their children rear facing up to 3 years old. They only recommend this because like ^ the other woman said ^ the head/neck control as far as getting into an accident. If YOU are comfortable and your child meets the requirements then go ahead and turn her around !!!! My son doesn't seem to care either way but I was very excited to turn him around haha =) The requirements for PA (not sure if it's the same everywhere or not) are ATLEAST 22 lbs AND 1 year of age! Even if it's a 20-40lbs rear facing, it doesn't mean you have to leave them rear facing until they are 40 lbs. Just make sure you use the 5 point harness correctly and she will be just fine !!!!!! =)

Cara - posted on 01/07/2011

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My daughter is at the same point, 21 lbs and 1 next week. I've been thinking alot about the whole car seat debate as well. I'm excited to have her face forward and "see the world", but I think I'm going to keep her facing backwards as long as possible. It seems like research has shown it to be the safest option. Charlotte likes car rides though, if your daughter is miserable and screams the whole time... Isn't it funny the dillema's we face today that our parent's never even thought about!?

Jessica - posted on 01/07/2011

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I am having the same delema some say wait until they are two and some say its ok to do it now that they are one. My girls are really long for their age and hate that they can't stretch their legs or see us in the car.

Aubree - posted on 01/06/2011

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As a former Child Passenger Seat technician and a mom, I turned my son forward a week ago and he will be one on the 26th. He is 22 pounds. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration makes all the rules for car seats & certifies the technicians. check out http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS for the official rules. My son is much happier forward facing. Most times children are not turned forward if their head control and neck muscles are not strong enough. I have read some of the information about remaing rear facing until 2 years and respect most pediatricians recommendations, but my child is happier and still safe forward facing.

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