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“Well, my son’s legs were running out of room.”
“My daughter turned 1, or 18 months, or 2, etc. so we celebrated by turning his car seat around.”
You know what my child thinks about car seat rear-facing?
Nothing. Not a thing.
He has accepted that when he gets in the car, he sits in his car seat and that’s that. He doesn’t know any different because I have never told or shown him any different. It’s part of life. Throw in a mirror so he can watch himself (and I can see him too) and a couple books or toys and he’s in paradise.
He has no opinion about car seat safety guidelines because he doesn’t have to. He relies on me to take care of him.
Running out of room?
My 2.5 year old bends his legs so that he gets comfortable and that’s it. He makes it work. It’s even recommended to have your kids sit Indian-style/criss-cross applesauce/whatever the acceptable term is. We’ve driven 500+ miles like that and he complained about wanting to see his Nana and Pop-Pop sooner, but never complained about not having room for his legs.
Celebrating an age?
Every child grows differently. Different heights and weights. Just look at clothes. Not every child wears the same size at the same age, so why do parents think turning 1 means that their child is ready to move the car seat? Celebrate their age with cake and presents, not with potentially endangering them.
Car Seat Safety Guidelines
My news feed will randomly show posts of friends or family’s adorable children. I smile looking at their grins, but then cringe when I see children even younger than my own forward-facing.
I don’t want to judge. And I certainly don’t want to tell someone else how to parent. But as someone who has watched a child die, I’m concerned about the unnecessary injury or death that can easily be prevented just by being aware of car seat safety guidelines.
It was decided that the minimum for turning the car seat around is age 1 or 20 lbs. The minimum. Instead of treating it as the minimum, people treat it as the hard and fast rule.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should stay rear-facing for as long as possible.
Several states have made laws requiring any child under the age of 2 to be rear-facing. At the time of writing this article, they are: California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. It’s my belief that other states will follow suit knowing that it is in the best interest of children.
Instead of making the decision to turn the seat around based on it being a milestone or thinking there’s little room, follow the weight or height guidelines on your child’s car seat itself. Most of the time these are printed on the back or side of the seat, or you can look up your brand and model online.
My son’s car seat is a Safety 1st Grow ‘n Go. We love that it can adjust with him from rear to forward to booster. The forward-facing mode is meant for children 22 to 65 lbs, but we decided against switching his seat around at 22 lbs. Why? Because rear-facing mode is designed up to 40 lbs! My son is 2.5 and not even near 40 lbs, so there’s no way we’ll turn his seat around knowing that he’s safest right where he is.
My son is 4.5 and still rear-facing. He hasn’t hit the 40 lb mark to need to switch. He has never complained and just moves his legs however they’re comfortable on his own. I’ve had other parents judge the fact that he’s rear-facing still (which blows my mind that I’m being judged for keeping my child safer than the way they think he should be). I even had someone verbally attack me and my husband over this and wouldn’t stop even when I remindeded them that it’s both my responsibility and my choice to protect my son especially after having a daughter who died. It’s a strange, strange world when keeping your child safe AND following safety guidelines is frowned upon.
Children under age two are 75% less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing, according to Injury Prevention.
Heaven forbid that we are involved in a car accident and something happens to my son; I would hate to live with the guilt of knowing that my son was injured or killed because of something I could have easily prevented.
Turning the car seat around is a choice that children can not make. It’s the job of the Mom, Dad, grandparent, or guardian. Make a choice that keeps them safe. Please.