Advice on how and why to keep your child car seat rear-facing when riding in the car.
Why should my babies car seat be rear- facing?
The risk of severe injury to your baby is greatly reduced by using a rear-facing car seat. Rear-facing helps support a child’s entire body and protects him or her better from an injury, especially to the neck and spine.
What types of car seats can be used rear-facing?
There are two types of rear-facing car seats: rear facing only seats (commonly called infant carriers or bucket seats) and convertible seats. The rear-facing only seats can be used for infants and weight limits on these seats vary from 22 lbs – 35 lbs. Height limits will also vary depending on the seat. Models come with a carrying handle and a detachable base that the car seat locks into.
Convertible seats are generally designed to be used with infants, toddlers and children; weight limits vary but can accommodate children up to 50 lbs rear-facing, and forward facing for toddlers and children who weigh 22-65 lbs. Be sure to check the owners manual for exact height and weight limits.
My baby is one year old and 22 pounds. May I turn his car seat forward facing?
Research shows that babies are better protected if they stay rear-facing as long as possible. In fact, a study found that children in their second year of life are 5 times less likely to die or have serious injuries in a collision if they are rear-facing.
In order to keep your toddler rear-facing longer, you will need to choose a car seat with a rear- facing weight limit or about 35-45 pounds. If your car seat is only rear-facing to 22-30 pounds, you may need to move your baby into convertible car seat with a higher rear-facing weight limit.
The Canadian Pediatric Society and Transport Canada, recommend children should ride facing the rear as long as possible and to the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer of the seat.
My baby has long legs and his feet touch the back of the vehicle seat when sitting rear-facing in his seat. Is this safe?
Yes. Babies are very flexible and it is OK for their legs to bend when they are rear-facing in their car seat. He is much safer from serious injuries in the rear facing position with his legs bent than if he were riding forward facing.
This video demonstrates the difference between a child secured in a 5 point harness car seat versus a child in a booster seat using an adult seat belt. It’s easy to see what the safer choice is. Keep children in a 5 point harness car seat for as long as possible.