how old does my baby have to be to change from a rear facing carseat to a forward facing one?!

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Kim - posted on 11/10/2009

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Almost everyone on here does not have the right facts. I am A CPST. I was trained by safe kids for child safety in the cars. I am the person you see at the police department and check points that tells you if your seat is right or not. Please listen to me on this subject, it is very important and may save your kids life!

Rear-facing is the safest position the child can ride in. It is strongly recommended that all children stay rear-facing beyond the minimum requirements of 1 year and 20 lbs. Children should not be turned forward-facing until they reach the maximum rear-facing limits of a convertible seat (some are 35 lbs and now some are 40 lbs). These limits are either the maximum rear-facing weight limit or when the top of their head is within one inch of the top of the seat shell, whichever comes first. While most parents are aware that they must keep their children rear-facing "until they are AT LEAST 1 year old AND 20 lbs", very few are told that there are significant safety benefits when a child remains rear-facing as long as the seat allows.

When a child is in a forward-facing seat, there is tremendous stress put on the child's neck, which must hold the large head back. The mass of the head of a small child is about 25% of the body mass whereas the mass of the adult head is only 6%! A small child's neck sustains massive amounts of force in a crash. The body is held back by the straps while the head is thrown forward - stressing, stretching or even breaking the spinal cord. The child's head is at greater risk in a forward-facing seat as well. In a crash, the head is thrown outside the confines of the seat and can make dangerous contact with other occupants, vehicle structures, and even intruding objects, like trees or other vehicles.

Rear-facing seats do a phenomenal job of protecting children because there is little or no force applied to the head, neck and spine. When a child is in a rear-facing seat, the head, neck and spine are all kept fully aligned and the child is allowed to "ride down" the crash while the back of the child restraint absorbs the bulk of the crash force. The head is contained within the restraint, and the child is much less likely to come into contact with anything that might cause head injury.

Many parents have the misconception that children are uncomfortable or at risk for leg injury by having their legs up on the vehicle seat or bent when kept rear-facing. These concepts are completely incorrect. First, children are more flexible than adults so what we perceive as uncomfortable is not for children. Think about how your child sits in everyday play. Do they sit with their legs straight out in front of them? When they sit on the couch, do they purposely sit so their legs dangle out over the edge? No. In real, everyday life, toddlers and preschoolers CHOSE to sit with their legs folded up - that IS comfort to them.

Second, there is not a single documented case of children's legs, hips, etc. breaking or being injured in a crash due to longer rear-facing. There are plenty of cases of head and neck injury in forward-facing children that could have been prevented if the child had remained rear-facing. However, even if a leg or hip were broken or injured, it can be fixed. A damaged spinal cord (from forward-facing too soon) cannot be repaired and subjects the child to lifelong disability or death.

Cassie - posted on 11/09/2009

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When a child is forward-faced before they are truly ready, in the event of a collision, their neck can internally DECAPITATE, either paralyzing them or killing them. Even a one year old's neck is most likely not developed enough to survive the collision. It is so sad that some of you say that you forward faced at 4,5, 6 months..... their bodies are no where ready for forward facing.

Some mothers will discuss the fact that their child is too tall for rear-facing and worry about their child breaking his legs. I can very honestly say that I would much rather my daughter's legs be broken in a collision than her neck!! Infant and toddlers bones and joints are still very flexible at these ages and very likely would not break if they were rear-facing but their neck is not strong enough and could very likely break!! I don't want that happening to my daughter just so that she can look out the front window!

Another poster linked a video about the importance of extended rear-facing! I highly suggest that everyone watch it or look up similar videos on youtube. Even if a child can support his or her head, that most definitely does not mean that her neck is strong enough to survive a collision. I hope many of you do more research before turning your child around unsafely!

Emily - posted on 01/26/2011

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the only reason that i say that is because my uncle is a cop and i've asked him because my son has hit both those markers and i wanted to be sure, but like i said in my earlier post, 22-24lbs and at least one year old.

Jessica - posted on 11/12/2009

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Your baby should be 1 years old and weigh 20 pounds or more. They like you to wait until they are one and rear-face them as long as you can. A lot of carseats only rear-face until they are 22 pounds. It only helps with less whip-lash when they are rear-facing.

Jessica - posted on 11/08/2009

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Rear facing is the safest way for anyone in a moving vehicle, obviously we can't sit rear facing but you can protect your child from serious injuries, paralysis, or even death by keeping them rear facing for as long as possible. Every convertible car seat (one you can rear face and then forward face) will have a weight limit for rear facing, I have the Safety First Air Protect car seat which allows rear facing up to 40 pounds. Please watch this video

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Chloe - posted on 01/27/2011

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I'm in aussie and by law it's 6monthes I think Harley got changed about 5 or 6 but he is very long and a good size!

Crystal - posted on 01/26/2011

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atleast one year AND 20lbs i can not believe how many people have said they turned there baby around at 4,5,6 months my first daughter screamed every car ride from the day she came home and as much as it drove me crazy i left her rf untill she was1yr and 21lbs i am so glad that none of you have been in an accident a 4-6 month old is not safe front facing

Annele - posted on 11/13/2009

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It is usually twenty lbs and over,or when the child outgrows the infant car seat and you see their feet sticking over,or when they are a year old. Those are some of the most common signs when you would make the transition to the booster seat.

Erika - posted on 11/13/2009

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It should say on the side of your car seat. Mine says at least a year old and 20lbs.

Jennifer - posted on 11/13/2009

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At least 20 lbs and 1 year old. If he weighs over 20 lbs before 1 do not rear face him. It is based on bone structure in development and on weight. Ideally as long as he fits in his car seat and it can stay rear facing keep it that way. I was just trained in car seat use and work in early childhood development; trust me it is better to keep rear facing as long as possible.

Jan - posted on 11/12/2009

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My doctor recommended that I switch her to a front facing at around 6 or 7 months because she was too big and they said that it was fine. NOT everyone can afford to buy a convertable car seat- around where I live they are no less $150, I looked

Tanya - posted on 11/12/2009

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it's not by weight, they have to be AT LEAST one and over 20 lbs. We got pulled over and had my 24 lb 10 month old and my husband got a ticket for him being in the wrong car saet so its not by weight, he was wayyyy to huge to be in that little carseat but they said he had to be.

Jamie - posted on 11/12/2009

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Most states are 20lbs AND 1 year old not one of the other. I plan on keeping my son rear facing for as long as possible. I bought a car seat that will hold him rear facing up to 40lbs. Its so much safer for them and to me thats all that matters. I wouldn't rush it.

Jenny - posted on 11/12/2009

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I was watching a video on baby's and car seats and they said that you should keep your baby rear facing for as long as you can because, the did a research on it and a lot of baby's who get rear ended or anything of that type get seriously hurt if they are facing forward. A lot of the convertible car seats are able to be rear facing until at least 45lbs.

Crystal - posted on 11/12/2009

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youre supposed to wait until theyre like 18-24 months. ask your sons pediatrician, bc some babies cant support themselves enough in a front facing seat.

Samantha - posted on 11/12/2009

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our carseat limit is 5-65ibs 5-45 rear facing and 45-65 forward facing i plan on keeping him rear facing for as long as possible babies can get internaly decapitated if they are in a serious crash

Danielle - posted on 11/12/2009

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it all depends on how big your baby is but you can get the convertible seats and put them in rear facing thats what im going to do they are soo much easier then the rear facing seats.

Dominique - posted on 11/12/2009

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you need to check the laws in the state you live in, from the research i've done its different in every state as far as what the law is

Sharalyn - posted on 11/12/2009

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Rear is from birth until one years old and is 22 pounds. Front is one years old and 22 pounds. Hope this helps.

Anamaryah - posted on 11/12/2009

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my ped. said to buy a convertible carseat and put it rear facing as long as possible bc of the head body proportion with front end crashes!

Dianna - posted on 11/12/2009

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I just recently turned my son's around. I asked a state trooper and he told me the infant has to be one.... and has to weigh at least 20 pounds.

Anna - posted on 11/11/2009

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The bare minimum is 1 year and 20 pounds although there is a lot of research being done that shows waiting until they are older and heavier is even better. Safety needs to be the priority, not if the baby's crying bothers you!

Elin - posted on 11/11/2009

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While most seats say you can turn them around at 22 lbs,m it's also height. Drs reccommend leaving them rear-facing as close to a year of age as possible! If they are bigger and meet heigh and weight restrictions you can decide. But try and stick it out that year for your childs safety!

Amanda - posted on 11/11/2009

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It depends on a couple of things. If their under 12 months, if their under 23 pounds they should be in the rear facing position (usually the newborn carseat) then if their still under 12 months, and they weigh over 23 pounds then theres another carseat you can get at walmart that is still rear facing, but later turns into a front facing one. After 12 months, if their 30 pounds or more, they can sit in a front facer, they want you to wait for front facing until they can sit up on their own, and weigh over 30 pounds, so in case of an accident they would not get hurt.

Lisa - posted on 11/11/2009

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Safer, yes, but in some states if your child's feet/legs are pushed against the back seat in a rear facing seat, they will recommend forward facing. My son is one and 22 lbs or more, and he's been forward facing since 9 months because his legs were cramped in the rear-facing. He grew out of the nice car seat with the convenient handle by 6 months. He was just too big. He was angry everytime he was put in it and he was uncomfortable. We tried the rear facing toddler seat but he hated it too. We had already bought a really nice, comfortable seat that will take him through to the ending stages of needing a seat, so we switched when he was 9 months and he's been happy ever since. The best thing you can do is go to your local fire station and get guidelines from them because they are the ones who respond to accidents and they know a lot about this kind of thing.

Claire - posted on 11/11/2009

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This goes by both weight and age. Age is because of muscle development. The longer you can place the baby in the car seat facing rear, the safer for you baby. The baby should be about 22 or more lbs, but your car seat should have a chart on the side somewhere.Also, check with the laws in your state because sometimes they vary. Even best, if you are unsure many local police stations, or even sheriff or state cops will take the time to ensure proper installment and give more info on how to keep your baby safe :)

[deleted account]

lol if its 20lbs my 4 month old will be there soon. he's 18lbs and 2 oz. the best thing to do is take the seat your child has currently (with the child) to your local sheriff''s station. they will tell you if you need to update seat, upgrade,even how to properly install into your car. my town had a safty inspection for free of charge, i asked one of the officers when my boy should be switched, they told me the weight, but also said if i ever have any questions go to station and ask. lol of course there's always google too

Jackie - posted on 11/11/2009

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When my first son was born it was 12months but I just recently went to a car seat class and they said the new law is at least 2 years.

Melissa - posted on 11/11/2009

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usually when they're 22 pounds and can sit by them selves unassisted. if your baby out grows the infant carseat length wise they still have to be in a rear facing car seat even if it isn't an infant one. all infant carseats say up to 22lbs and 29inches. if they're weigh more then 22lbs and can sit alone then you can put them in forward facing carseats. if they're 29inches but not 22lbs they still need to be in a rearfacing seat. at least that's the LAW in CANADA!

Heidi - posted on 11/11/2009

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Wait as long as you can!!!!! We turned my son around at 15 months, when he was close to the rear-facing weight limit on his carseat. My son's pediatrician said that laws will soon be changing mandating that children stay rear facing longer because it is SO MUCH SAFER.

Jeanie - posted on 11/11/2009

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Depends on the car seat. Most are 1 year old AND 20 pounds. Even if they are over 20 pounds you still have to wait until they turn 1. If the are 1 you have to wait until they reach 20 pounds or the amount recommended for your car seat b/c some are higher. If you baby grows out of the infant seat you can get car seats that go backwards and forwards that you can just switch to forward when it's time. Hope this helps!

Karen - posted on 11/11/2009

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I can't believe how many people turned their babies forward facing so early... that is scary!!!! They are at such a higher risk for spinal cord injuries and death forward facing rather than rear facing, because no matter how big your child is for their age, they don't have the neck muscles to support their head if they were all of a sudden thrown forward in an accident. Rear facing is 5x safer than forward facing. Do a little research to protect your child. The info is out there, start with car-seat.org or safekids.org.



I bought my daughter a Graco MyRide65, and she will be rear facing until she is 40 pounds, and at least THREE YEARS OLD. She will then continue to be in a 5point harness until she is 65 pounds!

Jasmine - posted on 11/11/2009

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I put my son in a forward facing carseat when he turned 6 month, his rear facing car seat was to small, he was a 9lb 6oz baby that gained even more wieght that i could not keep carrying in a small seat. He was an advanced baby so i believed it was safe and it was.

Dominique - posted on 11/11/2009

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When I took my little one in for his 1 yr chk the doc told me I could put him forward facing if I wanted to he was 20lbs his carseat goes to 25 so we can still use it but in rear facing only and the new carseat we got can be used either way the forward facing can be used at 20lbs.

Lindsay - posted on 11/11/2009

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I don't understand how so many of you are willing to risk your childs life just to have a quiet car ride. I personally would rather have a headache than not have my daughter! The law is 1 year old AND 20 pounds, it is illegal and VERY dangerous to turn before than. I was told that they are working on changing the law to 2 years old. My daughter is in a Britax Boulevard and she can and will rearface til she weighs 35 pounds and forward harnessed until 65 pounds. It is also just as dangerous to put a toddler into a seat belt booster before 65 pounds. Here is the youtube video that should scare all of you into turning your children back to rearfacing. It does NOT matter if there feet touch the seat, they find a comfortable position. Please think of there safety!

Sharlene - posted on 11/11/2009

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I know where I live it is one years old and 20lbs. For my older daughter I kept her rear facing until she was 16 months. Some car seats permit the baby to stay rear facing until they are 30lbs. I have lots of friends who as soon as there baby turned one they changed the seat around. I watched a show on car seats and the impacts on children and they said that it is safest to leave kids rear facing as long as you can just follow the weight limit on the car seat. Now with my younger daughter she is almost a year and just getting out of the baby carrier. She too will stay rear facing for a long while because she is much smaller then my older daughter was at that age. Trust your judgment. If you want to change your baby around at one year and 20lbs then at least he/she will be in the age and weight range. Also contact where you live to see what the laws are regarding car seats.

Hanna - posted on 11/10/2009

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if you are in the US, the official regulation is at least 1 years of age AND at least 25 lbs. so if your baby is one or the other, you have to wait until he meets both of these criteria (has to do with neck control & what can happen during an accident). i just went to double-check with the certified car seat installer. good luck!

Debbie - posted on 11/10/2009

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look at your car seat instructions, we just recently changed from rear facing as our car seat instructions said rear facing up to 8kg.

my son is 7 months.

(australia law maybe)

Wenonalani - posted on 11/10/2009

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the longer you can keep them in a rear facing the better its safer for babies and proven to cause less injuries if you get in an accident. The doctor said 18 months, even if it looks like their legs are scrunched its still so much better because their legs absorb and shock from an accident, if they are front facing its their neck and head that has to absorb the shock (yikes)

Amanda - posted on 11/10/2009

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What matters is when your child reaches a specific weight that is recommended for that specific seat.

Tiffany - posted on 11/10/2009

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I know it depends on what country you are in but in the US it is 1 yr of age. My son was over 25 lbs before a year but we waited for the1 year mark to turn him around. Also I know the carriers are small and we ended up getting a rear facing/foward facing seat and it fit him better until he was 1 yr.

Linda - posted on 11/10/2009

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The law in MA is 1 year or so many pds but now the pediatricians are recommending them stay rear facing until age 2.

Anne-Marie - posted on 11/10/2009

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i live in australia and here we have to wait untill they are 8kg. my baby was born at 4.325kg and was puttin on a killo a month so he was facing the front at 4 months. ihe always cried in the can untill i put it up the right way.

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