How Long Should Your Baby Be In A Rear-Facing Car Seat?

Rear-Facing Car Seat

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Does your baby always travel in a car seat? Have you kept your baby in a rear-facing car seat until now but not sure when to change it to front-facing? Are you thinking of placing your baby in a front-facing car seat but want to know the right age and safety angle before you do so?

If you are in a dilemma about your baby’s car seat and which side it should be facing now, read our post below to know all the details.

Is Your Baby Ready To Face Forward In The Car?

To be sure about your baby’s well-being while traveling in the car, it is best to check the manufacturer’s guidelines on the rear-facing car seat that you are currently using for your baby. The best time to use the rear-facing car seat is when your baby reaches the seat’s maximum weight and height limit.

Most parents start turning their baby’s car seat towards the front as soon as the baby turns a year old. Some parents also opt for front-facing car seats as soon as their baby turns one. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that it is important to ensure your baby sits in a rear-facing car seat at least until the age of two. Younger babies under the age of two who are placed in a rear-facing car seat have a 75% lesser chance of fatal injury in a car accident. It also states that sitting in a rear-facing seat is five times safer for your baby than sitting in a front-facing car seat.

When your baby is sitting in a rear-facing car seat, it provides additional support to your baby’s head, spine and neck. If you are involved in an accident, a rear-facing car seat will help to distribute the force from the collision evenly over your baby’s body. It means that no single part of your baby’s body will suffer a higher impact or be more affected by the crash.

Another golden rule that you can abide by as per the AAP recommendation is to switch your baby to the front-facing car seat once your baby is a year old and weighs 20 lbs.

Why Is A Rear-Facing Car Seat Better For Your Baby?

Your baby is at a higher risk to suffer head or spinal cord injuries in the event of a car crash. At this age, your baby’s bones and ligaments are underdeveloped. Also, your baby’s head is larger than the neck. It means that your baby’s structural support system is still not fully developed or in control. During this phase, a rear-facing car seat will give your baby the perfect support and cushioning. In case there is a sudden need to apply the brakes, or the car gets involved in a crash, a rear-facing seat will prevent your baby’s head from being thrown out of the body.

Being involved in a car crash continues to be the leading cause of sudden death in babies who are younger than one year of age.

Once your baby outgrows the weight and height limit of the rear-facing seat, you can opt for a convertible car seat. Get one that has a higher weight and height limit. In this way, you will still be able to buckle up your baby in a rear-facing car seat while making sure that your baby is safely within the height and weight limits. Also, once it is time for your baby to switch to a front-facing car seat, you can use the same one to turn the sides.

What If Your Baby’s Legs Seem Too Long For The Rear Facing Seat?

It is true that when your baby sits in the rear-facing car seat, the legroom is considerably less as compared to a front-facing car seat. Sometimes, your baby’s legs may touch the seat at the back, which, technically, will be in their front. Also, your baby’s legs may be bent or squished or even crossed due to lack of space.

Of course, you may worry that your baby is not comfortable and that being in a car crash while sitting like this can put more pressure on your baby’s legs. However, be assured that in the event that something like this does happen, your baby’s legs will not get hurt due to this space crunch. Here are a few reasons why a rear-facing car seat is better for your baby, even if it feels less spacious than a front-facing one:

  • A rear-facing car seat will do an excellent job of keeping your baby well-protected in the event of a car crash. It will also ensure that your baby’s arms and legs are safe and free from any injury.
  • In a front-facing car seat, your baby’s arms and legs will flail out to the front in the event of a car crash. It will put your baby at a higher risk of getting injured, especially on the hands and legs.
  • In a rear-facing car seat, your baby has a less than 1 in 10,000 chance of getting injured in the arms and legs in the event of a car accident.

So even though it may look as if your baby does not have enough space to be comfortable in a rear-facing seat, it is still the safer option out of the two.

What If You Have Already Put Your Baby In A Front-Facing Car Seat?

It is possible that you may have put your baby in a front-facing car seat, thinking it will be easier and more comfortable. While switching your baby from a rear-facing car seat to a front-facing one is always much more exciting for your little one, the opposite can be that much more difficult.

Here are a few things you should try out if you have already placed your pre-two-year-old in a front-facing car seat:

  • Try switching your baby back to the rear-facing car seat.
  • If your baby is not ready to make the switch, make sure you check the safety of the front-facing car seat.
  • Fasten the seat tightly to the car. The harness should be comfortable and snug over your baby. The chest clip should also be placed properly and fastened in the right way. Also make sure that the latch or the seatbelt are properly placed and in place.

Follow the guidelines and avoid placing your baby in a front-facing car seat before the age of two.

Moms, when did you switch your baby to a front-facing car seat and how was the experience for your baby? Do share your stories here.

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