When do u turn the baby seat to face forward in the car?

Tiffany - posted on 01/13/2010 ( 190 moms have responded )

14

13

1

my daughter is four months old and can hold her head very well. shes 8 kilograms. i dont have the seat instructions to tell me when to turn the seat around so it sits up facing the front. any advice?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Geralyn - posted on 01/13/2010

1,615

35

240

What is evident to me when a mom says my 4-month-old or 7-month-old, or even a baby over 1-year-old for that matter can hold his/her head up and therefore is safe forward-facing, has never been in a car accident with any kind of force. I was in a car accident where traffic was stopped on the highway, and this elderly driver plowed into the back of my suv at about a speed of 55 mph - my vehicle was at rest. Every object in the car becomes a trajectory. The force is unfathomable.

If you were to think about it for a moment, the force on the baby's body, head and neck in an accident of any proportion would be so great that the baby's neck could snap, causing what they refer to as internal decapitation. I have had friends working at emts, the first responders to accidents typically, where they have seen lifeless babies at the scene and mothers so distraught to the point of being inconsolable. I can guarantee that they were not thinking well, at least she was more comfortable forward-facing and could look out the window better. We moms have to stop and think not about the daily driving trips but worst case scenario when the ultimate price of an accident, even if the mom is not at fault, is serious injury or death to her child.

You have to keep in mind that 1) there are legal minimums for turning an infant around; and 2) there are the safety recommendations. There is usually a significant delay in the legal requirements catching up to the safety requirements. In the US, back in 2006 (yes, almost 4 years ago!), the safety requirements changed from 20 pounds and one year to 30-35 pounds and 2 years (or when they have reached the maximum limit of the car seat rear-facing). Please note that this does not mean that all of a sudden the baby is safe forward-facing. It means that the car seat is not designed to hold a taller or heavier child beyond its maximum. [I have no doubt that car seat design will change in order to keep the children rear-facing for even longer....] Many states have NOT yet changed the legal requirements to match the safety recommendations.

Most car seats (approximately 90%) are not installed or used properly, which increases the likelihood of serious injury or death. Moreover, the forward-facing position provides no support to the head, neck and torso of a baby in an accident where there is any force. The rear-facing position on the other hand allows for the CARSEAT not the BABY to take the brunt of most of the force, therefore protecting the baby from injury.

There is a lot of information on the internet about car seat and booster seat safety. Take the time to research it. Also, for US moms, there is a community on COM called "Car Seat Safety - Questions and Answers" that has 53 members. Even if you do not join, please review the detailed information and the links on there.

I have seen posters from Australia and England, for example, refer to their legal requirements, which appear to be lower than in the US. Keep in mind that the infant and child mortality rates in Australia and England are no where near those in the US.

I turned my son around to be forward-facing when he met the legal requirements. Within days, I learned of the 2006 safety recommendations, and I immediately turned around his seat. I will follow the safety recommendations in order to increase the likelihood that he will survive an accident, should there ever be one.

Good luck in your decision-making.

Amie - posted on 01/13/2010

22

13

2

Although she is 4 months old and holding her head up very well on her own, she is far from being FF in a car seat! In NY state, the "old" recommended law was 1 year and 20lbs. Now, according to statistics, many accidents have left children seriously injured due to being FF at that time. The new recommended weight and height in my state, is to wait for as long as you possibly can! For instance, I have a car seat that is FF as well as RF. My daughter is 13 months old... and still RF. Why? Becuase the car seat maximum weight limit is 55lbs for RF. So to make sure my daughter is 100% safe during every car ride, she will stay RF until she reaches the weight of 55lbs. The longer you keep them RF, they safer they will always be. Many moms are in a hurry to FF their babies at a young age. It's like a milestone for them. But many of them don't realize the risk factors involved. A babies neck and head may be very strong, but think about when you stop short in a car ride alone. What does your body do? Your head goes forward and you have to hold it back, right? Well, a baby doesn't know how to do that and considering the vast size difference between you and them, think about how far their head will go if the car is stopped short.. Their neck may even break.



The longer you RF, the better because it allows the child more time than ever to strengthen their neck muscles to accomodate a car ride, even if stopping short.

Krista - posted on 01/13/2010

12,562

16

842

Melissa, I'm not trying to make you go by our laws -- I'm just suggesting that you go by YOURS.

And those laws are there for the safety of your child -- they're not there to inconvenience you or to make your life more difficult. I'm sorry that you find that protecting a child is such an onerous task.

It's not about whether or not a police officer notices that your kid is under six months, it's about the fact that at that age, they're a hell of a lot more likely to survive a collision if they're rear-facing. It's about protecting your child. I find it incredibly alarming that you put your baby front-facing when she had poor head control, just because you found it "easier".

So no, it's not "up to the mum". Not everything is up to the mum, if what the mum is doing is putting her child in danger.

Eleisha - posted on 01/14/2010

386

24

64

Hey, I am an Aussie to and have been at loggerheads with my family over this exact topic. Australia says 8 kilos and 6 month (they have to be both). I have decided to keep Ava rear facing until 12 kilos (the max capacity that Australian seats will take rear facing). Australia is very far behind the rest of the world on this matter, as most countries say law is 1 year old and 20 pounds; in fact Switzerland recommend children stay rear facing util 4 years. It is disapointing that Australia is so far behind, and I am presently looking at purchasing a seat from the US that is rear facing up until 50 pounds. I know you say that your 4 month old is very strong in her neck, but imagine the force of an accident and how her neck would be thrust forward. My advice is REAR FACING until she possibly can't fit. Better a broken leg than a broken neck!

This conversation has been closed to further comments

190 Comments

View replies by

Ronnale - posted on 01/16/2010

5

21

0

as long as possible, at least till 20 pounds! My daughter is an EMT and she has told me of many accidents with babies in the car, the rear facing seats have miraculously kept infants safe and cocooned while the car is smashed all around them!

Erika - posted on 01/16/2010

1

30

0

She has to be 1 year old and at least 20 lbs. Our son is well over 20 lbs but since he has not turned a year they said no.

Karen - posted on 01/16/2010

18

8

1

my daughter kacey-leigh will be 2 in march thats her just gone into forward facing.its safer i think to have rear facing 4 at least the 1st year or so

[deleted account]

Definitely wait at least a year, but the new recommendations (i think by the Academy of Pediatrics) is 2 years.

Karen - posted on 01/16/2010

18

8

1

hi im from scotland n the advice i would give is leave ur child in rear facing 4 as long as poss until she needs more room!my daughter is22 mths n she has only been facing forward 4 2mths but she is quite petite only weighs 24lbs

Rebecca - posted on 01/16/2010

1

0

0

They are saying now that you need to keep them back facing as long as possible because it is so much safer. I am going to wait until my daughter is two. She is in a convertible seat though. Google your states child safety laws for motor vehicles. You can also contact most fire stations and they will have that information for you.

Peita - posted on 01/16/2010

459

66

51

To all those people who are saying they would keep their child rearward facing until 4 -6yo, I ask how do they fit???? My boy a 1yo weighed 14kg and was wearing size 2 (Australian sizes) and just didn't fit facing the back, that was the minimum weight to go into a booster seat! He now at just turned 6yo weighs 27kg and wears size 8 clothing, he is extremely tall, so is the rest of my family! Our new laws that are set to come in say a child must stay in a booster seat until 7yo unless they outweigh the seat maximum weight!! My boy outweighed our booster seat at 5yo!! I think it would be dangerous to not follow height and weight restrictions on the seats, the manufacturers put those guidelines there for a reason!

Kelly - posted on 01/16/2010

168

24

7

it depends on the size of you car seat. in aus its recommended a minimum 6mths and it depends on the weight restrictions for your car seat. if your not sure about your car seat, i know you can take it to RACV or vicroads (in victoria) i dont know what they're called in nt. i know how you feel though, i have an 8wk old boy who is 7.5kg and putting on 1kg every 2wks as an average so far and my car seat only goes to 9kg rearward facing. i'm starting to worry about that. when i went to buy a car seat most of them were either 9 or 10kg.so i would use that as a base atleast.

Cyndi - posted on 01/15/2010

2

15

0

I kept my daughter in a rear-facing carseat until she was 2 yrs. old (She was also a preemie). She moved-up to a regular carseat when she was 20 lbs. Your baby has a little way to go before facing forwards in a car, so don't rush it~~Be thankful for the inventor that created the "Backwards carseat", it's the best invention that ever came for protecting babies in cars (Especially in car accidents)! NJ law says that the child MUST be 20 lbs. before being placed in a "Forward" facing carseat. My husband is a police officer.

Laura - posted on 01/15/2010

67

9

2

In the United States your baby should be one year old AND 20 lbs before being in a forward facing car seat. Anywhere else I don't know! Hope this helps!

Punzelina - posted on 01/15/2010

30

15

0

Where we are, the baby must be 1 year old AND weigh at least 20 pounds. Although, I have read that it really is safer for the child to keep them backward facing until they are 2 years of age. Before that, their necks are really vulnerable to whiplash, and their heads hit the seats in cases of hard stops. After 2, supposedly they are stronger and able to handle it better. My son is 17 months and I still have him backward facing.

Suzanne - posted on 01/15/2010

3

2

0

most forward facing seats are aimed at children from 9month onwards (or a certain weight), The seat should say somewhere on its label the weight/age range that it is suitable for but realistically, if she still fits in the backward facing seat very comfortably, leave her in it

Karrie - posted on 01/15/2010

6

14

1

In Canada they have to be 1year old and weigh 20 lbs. You should go to your local fire station...they will be able to guide you in the right direction. Also, if her feet dangle over the bottom it is ok but if her head is going past the top of the carseat that is bad!! Once they are tall enough that their head is past that point it is very dangerous to keep them in an infant seat, you will need to put her in a larger carseat then!! Hope this helps!!

Katherine - posted on 01/15/2010

14

53

0

Have you tried Googling the make and model of your seat? You might find the instructions that way. Here in NZ, it is recommended that you turn the seat round when your child is one year old or 9 kg. They're much safer in a rear facing seat so the longer you can leave it, the better.

Sharyn - posted on 01/15/2010

1

0

0

hi, not sure but by law you have to have that way for a certian time. you should check with you state or your insurance company.sharyn

Jessica - posted on 01/15/2010

621

25

79

In the states, children have to be 20 lbs and at least a year old according to most pediatricians before they can be in front facing car seats. My son outgrew his car seat in height before he was a year old.

Tiffany - posted on 01/15/2010

14

13

1

Northern Territory laws state (in Australia where I live) that a child must remain rear facing til they are 9 kilos or 6 months old.

Tiffany - posted on 01/15/2010

14

13

1

im not saying im in a hurry to turn the seat around so my daughter looks 'advanced'. not at all. shes my pride andf joy so i want the safest option for her, and i didnt know where to find out. just in case anyone didnt know the kilos to pound conversion, shes just over 8 kilos so thats around 18lbs. shes a very big girl for her age :)

Julie - posted on 01/15/2010

4

0

0

I kept my son rear facing as long as I could handle his whining. It got to be where he would scream when we put him in the car and it just got to be too much to keep him facing backward. He's a little guy, so we had him in an infant car seat until 12 months rear facing, and we got a new rear/forward facing and kept him backward until he was over 20 pounds and then turned that thing around!!

Vicky - posted on 01/15/2010

5

6

0

I turned my two boys around at 12mths, its safer to keep them rear facing as long as possible

Donna - posted on 01/15/2010

7

8

0

SOMETIMES IT WORKS .....AS A MOM TRY AND SEE WHAT IS BETTER FOR YOUR CHILD .......DONT ALWAYS GO BY THE BOOK....MOM KNOWS HER OWN CHILD

Krystal - posted on 01/15/2010

283

46

22

In aus its 6mths or 8 kgs. Wil was a terrible traveller so we turned him around just shy of 6mths..now he's a happy traveller!

Caren1±JaA - posted on 01/15/2010

30

30

1

I purposely bought a Toyota yaris because I could see over the dash easily, the windows were lower, the arm rests were lower (so I didn't look like a chicken driving down the road), and my kids could see the world outside easier. I am 5 ft 3. So I klnow what you mean about the seat belt choking you. If I drive my parents car sometimes, I spend allot of time pushing it away. Because it is choking me. I think everyone that tests cars must be at least 5 foot 6 or taller! I think I need a booster seat. If only my but would fit, I think I would:)
lol.

Sylvia - posted on 01/15/2010

1,315

8

31

You shouldn't be using a carseat you don't have instructions for. Check the model number, do a Google search for the make and model, and find some instructions.



Are you in North America? Most carseats are designed for the kid to rear-face until 20 lb AND 1 year old (IOW, both conditions have to be true), and in most jurisdictions the law matches that. People worry about broken legs when rear-facing, but spinal-cord injury when facing forward is much more common, especially for younger kids.



My daughter didn't hit 20 lb until she was two years old, and she rear-faced in the car until 28 months. Unless your child suffers from severe motion sickness when rear-facing, there's absolutely no reason to be in a hurry to turn her around, and four months is definitely MUCH too early to do that.

Kylie - posted on 01/15/2010

20

11

1

Hi, defintely not yet. I am one of the Plunket CarSeat Rental Managers in NZ & we recommend that your child is AT LEAST 12mths old before you put them forward facing. Developmentaly their bodies are not ready to support themselves should there be an accident. Let me know if you want any other advice.

Donna - posted on 01/15/2010

7

8

0

ITS NOT CRAZY .....MY SON WAS VERY HARD TO KEEP IN A CAR SENT DID NOT LIKE ANY HARNESSES AND TO BE RESTRAINED...THE BOSTER SEAT WAS NEXT FOR ME TOO AND I WORRIED TOO FOR THE SAME REASONS..CAR SEATS TO ME SHOULD STILL BE IMPROVED ....LOOK IM SHORT AND WHEN I HAVE A CAR SEAT STRAP ON IT COKES ME TO THIS DAY AND I HAVE AJUSTED IT MANY TIMES.....

[deleted account]

Be careful - your biggest concern should be whiplash in the event of an accident whether or not your baby can hold her head up. Every state/country has different laws.

[deleted account]

Keep her facing backward -- unless her ENTIRE head is actually above the top of the seat, she is much safer facing backward. To help you feel better about her feet touching the backseat, remember how curled up and cramped she was just 5 months ago (you say she is 4 months old). She isn't uncomfortable, even though it looks like it to us adults! ;)

Caren1±JaA - posted on 01/15/2010

30

30

1

Mine are nearly 9 years and 4 years now. And yes my 9 year old still uses the bottom part of his boster seat. But then again he is only about 60 pounds but is 4 feet 5 inches tall. My almost 4 year old is still in a car seat with full straps and a snap between the crotch and will stay there for a while yet. He isn't as tall as my older one was at this age although he is nearly3 feet 5 inches tall and weighs a heafty 45 pounds . My oldest one had his shoulders over his car seat frame, so I had to put in a booster seat before he was 3. The harsness spots were too low and it was too dangerous. I was afraid that he would get beheaded if we got in an accident. Sounds crazy, but that was what I thought.

Donna - posted on 01/15/2010

7

8

0

YES I KNOW THAT TOO .....WE NEVER DID THAT BACK IN THE DAY ....AND GOD BLESS WE WERE FINE AND VERY CAREFUL ......

Donna - posted on 01/15/2010

7

8

0

I SEE YOUR POINT ...JUST MAYBE HE WILL STOP DOING THAT IS HE FACING FRONT AND CAN SEE WHERE HE IS GOING INSTEAD OF WHERE HES BEEN ....HE COULD BE BOTHERING HIM ... YOU KNOW .....TRY IT...

Sarah - posted on 01/15/2010

1

9

0

The longer they are rear facing the better! If you are in an accident and your car seat is correctly installed in the rrear position it is the safest way for them to ride!

Caren1±JaA - posted on 01/15/2010

30

30

1

My concern with my oldest was that he use to constantly be kicking his feet and pushing his way out of things. Where you don't get to use the harness when it is still rear facing I was affriad that he would kick his seat out of position. He was 3 foot 1 when he was 2!

Tiffany - posted on 01/15/2010

34

2

2

rear facing as long as possible! in Sweden you cant turn the baby around until they are four.

Brittany - posted on 01/15/2010

4

3

0

In Ohio it's 20lbs before you can turn the seat facing forward! I don't know the length but i would wait as long as possible because that is the safest position for a baby to face espeacially at 4 months old.

Sally - posted on 01/15/2010

3

2

0

I would say a four months although your daughter is holding her head well the way she would be sat and react with her body forward facing would perhaps not be developed enough at the moment, I would wait little longer. I think with my son we waited till he was older than 4 months, although in the end he was too long so we had to turn him round I think he was about 8 months.

Wendy - posted on 01/15/2010

4

26

0

It used to be 1 year AND 20 lbs, but now most pediatricians and the AAP (American Academy of Peds) is recommending not turning them around till 2 years! I made it with my third till about 16 months and then decided it wasn't worth the fight anymore! She was 23 lbs by then. As the wife of a Pediatrician, I'd recommend waiting as long as you can ... he's seen kids die from not being in carseats properly!

Sheryl - posted on 01/15/2010

11

0

0

I agree it is one year old and 20 pounds. You can also go to the website of the mfg. of your car seat. It will give you instructions for your specific seat.

Lise - posted on 01/15/2010

110

22

15

I live in Alberta Canada. Our law states not to turn them until they are 1 year or 20 pounds. The safty recommendations are 1 year or 20 pounds to turn them around, forward facing with a 5 point harness until 4 or 40 pounds, booster seat until they are 9 or 80 pounds. It really doen't matter what country you are from accidents happen, and people drive fast. I have always erred on the side of caution. If your child was killed in a car accident and you knew there was something you could have done to prevent it you would probably spend the rest of your life blaming yourself. Just something to think about.

Fawn - posted on 01/15/2010

1

21

0

I just read today in a pregnancy magazine, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends the baby stays rear facing until 2 years old.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms