Forward-Facing Safey Seats
Who Sits Forward-facing?
- Children who have outgrown their child safety seat’s rear-facing height or weight limits
- Children who are at least 2 years old may ride forward facing in a convertible or forward-facing only (combination booster seat) safety seat
How should a Forward-facing Child Ride?
· A forward-facing child should ride fully upright
· Shoulder straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders
· Harness straps should be snug (no slack)
· Harness retainer clip should be at armpit level
What is Extended Rear-facing?
Rear-facing as long as possible is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians, and can reduce injuries and deaths. Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under.
Convertible child safety seats have rear-facing weight limits ranging from 35-45 pounds and height limits vary by child safety seat. You will need to check the child safety seat owner’s manual for information on weight and height limits.
High-weight Harness Child Safety Seats:
- Safer than booster seats
- Great for taller toddlers
- Will last longer than shorter/smaller seats
- Great for kids with special needs
Common Myths & Misconceptions:
Is it dangerous to have my child’s legs bent and/or their feet touching the vehicle seat?
No, this is NOT a safety hazard. There have been NO documented cases of a rear-facing child breaking their legs or hips in a crash but there are countless cases of forward-facing children receiving spine and neck injuries. It is important to note that children are very flexible and do not find riding rear-facing uncomfortable. What might appear cramped to an adult is fine for a child.
My child’s doctor says I can turn my child around forward-facing even though he is not yet 1 year old.
Unfortunately, your child’s doctor’s information is very outdated. Many doctors receive only a brief lesson on child passenger safety during medical school. Reading about safety recommendations is often a lower priority than keeping up-to-date on treatment and disease changes. However, some doctor’s do keep up-to-date on safety recommendations and pass that information on to their patients.
My child is only 9 months old, but he can hold up his head, sit, crawl, and walk. Doesn’t he have enough muscle strength to ride forward-facing now?
This is a common misconception. The recommendations on turning a child forward-facing have nothing to do with muscular strength. They are based on skeletal strength and even though your 9 month old may be able to hold his head up, sit, crawl, and walk, his skeleton is no different than a 9 month old who cannot do those same things. Turning a child forward-facing too early can have major consequences in a crash.
My child screams the entire time in the car. It is distracting to me and I think I should turn him around forward-facing. He will be happier because he can see me and I will not be a distracted driver.
This is one of the most common reasons why parents turn their children around forward-facing. What parents do not consider is the huge gamble they are taking on their child’s safety. It is not fun to listen to a crying baby however it is much better to have a crying baby than a severely or fatally injured baby. Many parents have found that a forward-facing child is much more distracting than a rear-facing child. The child can now see you and can demand attention from you. Inspect the child safety seat to determine whether something is pinching, poking, or digging into your child that would be causing the child to scream or cry. You can also have your child safety seat inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to verify there are no issues with the seat itself.