How Long Should Kids Be in Rear-Facing Car Seats?

As many frustrated parents will attest, “My baby hates his (or her) rear-facing car seat.” While some infants don’t mind rear-facing car seats, a lot of them seem to cry whenever they’re strapped in causing some parents to wonder, “Does my child get carsick because they can’t see forward?”

If you’re like a lot of parents, you’re counting down the days until you can put your child in a regular forward-facing car seat. You could be thinking that turning your child around so they can see you, and see forward, may be exactly what he or she needs to be calm, quiet and peaceful in the car.

It’s normal for parents to want to turn their babies’ car seats around sooner than later. After all, it’s hard on parents too when they can’t see their babies’ faces. So, the question is, what’s the right age to transition from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing model?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents wait “because children are safest riding rear-facing seats until they are at least 2 years old,” reported Consumer Reports. “Car seat research has shown that children up to 23 months old are about 75 percent less likely to die or sustain serious injury in a rear-facing car seat than a forward-facing one,” says Consumer Reports.

Why is a rear-facing car seat so much safer? Because, research indicates that the rear-facing car seat is better at spreading the force of the crash more evenly across the child’s body and the back of the car seat. The rear-facing seat also limits the motion of a child’s head in a crash. This means it reduces the chances of a neck injury.

The three car seats recommended by Consumer Reports for every child:

  1. Rear-facing infant carrier
  2. A convertible car seat
  3. A booster seat

Traditionally, when most parents would think about a convertible car seat, they’d automatically think it was time to go out and buy their child a forward-facing car seat. But Consumer Reports says they should hold off. Instead, they should transition to a rear-facing convertible car seat. “Most babies will outgrow the height limit on their infant carrier well before they reach the weight limit,” according to Consumer Reports.

For the utmost safety, Consumer Reports recommends that parents transition their baby from an infant car seat to a rear-facing convertible car seat by the child’s first birthday, and NO later. To learn about Georgia’s child car seat laws, click here.

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