When to Move your Child from Rear Facing to Front Facing

Choosing when to switch your kids from a rear facing infant car seat to front facing can be very confusing. Many parents look at the age guidelines and think they should move their baby to front facing as soon as they turn six months old. However, this is bad idea because:

  1. A baby is much safer in a rear facing car seat. If you are in an accident, their head and neck will be much better protected.
  2. Babies are usually more comfortable in a rear facing car seat so they may behave better.
  3. They are more likely to sleep in a rear facing car seat.

The first point is the main one. The longer you can leave your baby in a rear facing car seat the safer they will be.

Your child is 5 times safer at 1 years old to be rear facing and it is recommended to keep your children rear facing until they are 2.

When you should you make the change?

You should make the change ONLY when your baby reaches the maximum weight or length recommendations for your particular seat. This is how you should judge when the correct time is to change the seat, not the time that your baby reaches a certain age.

This will vary by manufacturer. Most seats will need to be changed when your baby hits 20 or 30 pounds.  If you are not sure what the ruling is for your seat, ring the manufacturer or find the information book that should have come with your seat.

What to look for in a rear facing car seat?

Given that your baby will be safer in a rear facing position, one of the most important things to look for in a seat is that it will fit your baby as long as possible. Pick a car seat with a high weight and length limit and it may fit your child for the first couple of years of their life. At the very least, choose one that can be rear facing until 30 pounds and will take a long baby. There are some options available which should easily fit your child until they are 2.

Other safety considerations are important as well, and you definitely want an infant car seat with the highest safety rating you can afford. If you can buy a 4 or 5 star rated seat which will fit your child until they are 2, then you have done a great job.

You may also want to read about when to move from forward facing to a booster seat.