My Fabulous Life

Forward Facing at 1 Year?

With Everleigh’s 1st birthday approaching (oh…my…God) this issue has been weighing on me these past few days.  Tonight, a friend posted a year-old article sharing that the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2.   This goes against previous recommendations of 20lbs/1 year that many parents still follow today.

I looked at Health Canada recommendations which state that children should remain in each progressive stage of car seat use as long as possible.  In other words, keep them rear-facing as long as possible up to the weight limit of 20kg which is 45lbs.  45?!  Holy cow my 4 year old isn’t even 45 lbs, and there’s no way she’d be sitting rear-facing right now.  There’s got to be some height limitations involved in this recommendation though the chart from the article linked here doesn’t state that.

I also took a look back at an article I wrote this summer after attending the Forward With Ford conference in Detroit and specifically the Safety For All Ages session.  I spoke with Dr. Stewart Wang (trauma surgeon and founding director of the University of Michigan International Center for Automotive Medicine), and he shared with me some pretty sobering stories of the trauma he’s seen in children in car accidents.

Then, I spoke with my husband and asked his opinion on switching the car-seat forward facing at one year/20 pounds.  I explained some of the things Dr. Wang told me and he offered an alternative scenario.  While a rear-facing car seat may prevent trauma that could occur when a child is otherwise forward facing – what happens when a vehicle is hit from behind.  Would everything then be opposite? Would a rear-facing 18 month old suffer trauma in a rear-collision that he would not suffer if he were forward facing?

Definite thought-provoking questions raised here, and in the end it’s (in my opinion) up to the parent to make the decision they feel is best, after the minimum guidelines are met.  In other words, while I may question a parent turning a car-seat around for a 6-month old that is 15 pounds, I wouldn’t frown upon a parent turning a car-seat around at 1 year of age, nor would I look funny at the parent of an 18-month old still rear-facing.  I’d hope they did their research and made the decision they felt is best.

No decision has been made here yet.  Everleigh needs to switch to the next stage of car-seat regardless so it’s now a matter of deciding which way the car seat will be installed.  As an end-note, my first two children were both turned around to forward facing at 1 year.



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  • My son is 4.5 years old, when he was 1 in 2008- you turned them forward facing and everyone was happy in the car! When my daughter turned 1 in 2011 I read the guidelines changed…well i have tall kids to start, so she was cramped and miserable to start, she stared at her brother FORWARD facing with envy and it made car rides rather miserable. So when she turned 1- she was turned AROUND! If it was good enough for my son, it is good enough for her. I feel like this is the new ‘vaccination debate’. In my opinion, parenting is about SURVIVAL at times, if your daughter is content rear facing then sure let it ride. If she is anxious and ready to be forward facing…save your sanity, energy and fight…turn that beauty around!

  • I am sort of torn here… they say the child doesn’t know the difference if the legs are curled up… but I had TALL kids and Victoria would have been sucking on her knee caps by two if I kept her rear facing. It is great for those tiny kids I WISH I had had… But at a year my kids were 24lbs and in size 2-3 clothes. I am glad I don’t have to worry about the decision now, but think it is interesting regardless.

  • We turned DD at around 18 months (she’s 4 now) and intend to keep DS rear-facing until he’s at least 2 (currently 18 months). My understanding is that no matter where the impact comes from, rear-facing is better because you also need to factor in your car’s movement (the whole inertia thing…. your child continues moving in whatever direction s/he was already moving), not just the object of impact.

  • I turned all my kids forward facing at a year, our son may have even been a smidge earlier. It was just a risk I was willing to take for their comfort considering 2 of 3 of my kids have all been in the 100th+ percentile in height/weight since birth. Squishing their legs while rear facing just wasn’t an option for me.

  • This is such a great article! I love how you voice your opinion but don’t try and make other Moms feel bad about what they do. On my FB page a while back there was a big article by some carseat “guru” who was talking about forward facing casket rear facing cast it or something like that. I told DH how and why am I seeing this when I don’t even like the page (I guess a friend commented on it). Anywho it just amazed me at how those who were for turning their children around at 1 were made to feel ohh so low and as if they were bad parents. We always joke about my MIL holding my hubby in the car or him sitting on the floor and he turned out fine (granted there were less cars out there but they were no ways near as safe as the ones we have nowadays). I say your the parent you know what’s best for your child. You’ve done the research and you know they are going to change their mind in a few years and come out with “new findings”. This is just another touchy subject like breastfeeding or formula, cloth or disposable, crib bumper or stuck limbs. . .I mean no crib bumper 😉 co-sleeping or sleep in their own beds, babywearing or no babywearing the list just goes on and on =)

  • We switched my oldest at just over a year old. I was pregnant with #2 and it was impossible for me to get him into our SUV in a rear facing car seat. My second son is now 9 months old and we plan on keeping him rear facing until the fall, so close to 16 months old or so. We will evaluate again at that point. Right now he is really happy being rear facing because he can see his brother. I think it is a personal decision. I get really upset at the people who criticize you and think you are a terrible parent when you forward face your child.

  • I’m an advocate of extended rear facing once I learned about the differences in what types of injuries a child can sustain by forward facing too soon. I found this regarding your question about a rear impact:
    “Rear-facing car seats may not work as effectively in a rear impact but frontal, frontal offset and side impacts are not only more common, but account for the most percentage of fatalities. As discussed above, rear impacts account for a very small percentage of fatalities in accidents in comparison to frontal, frontal offset and side impacts.”
    I like to reduce the risks, you can’t make everything 100% safe but you can reduce the risk, so 2 of my kids rear faced until 2.5 years (I didn’t know any better for my eldest).
    Good luck in your decision, parenting ones are tough sometimes.

  • Both my kids were rear facing AND in their bucket seat until nearly 18 months old. Brooklyn is very petite, and Jonah is more on target for his age {at 4 1/2 he is the same height Brooklyn was on her 6th birthday} but they were not heavy enough to switch to forward facing and honestly I wasn’t interested in buying the next carseat up until that point. They also weren’t horribly cramped so there wasn’t that issue to consider….and yes I even carried Jonah around in the bucket until the very end haha…

    I agree – meet the basic guidelines and then make choices accordingly. I know one thing is for sure – I got my money’s worth out of that bucket seat! 🙂

    • I am impressed at the mommy muscles you must have from carrying around a 18 month old in a bucket seat! My 2 year old learned to say “heavy baby” everytime he saw the bucket seat because that’s what mommy said every time she picked up the baby in it:)

      • oh you have no idea! I mean Jonah started as a nearly 10lbs baby so he was heavy from the start. lol Thank goodness for elbows – it’s the joint that took the brunt of the weight….love the *heavy baby* – haha

  • Regardless of the article, I would still turn my children around at one year old. Every year, the “Experts” come out with some new hazards and safety measures; many of which contradict others. First of all, in an accident, you can’t guarantee where you will be hit from. Forcing a child to sit facing the rear with their legs crunched up seems to be a pretty dangerous position to be in in an accident. Second, at one year old, especially with full neck support, there should be no reason why a baby is not safe enough if properly restrained in their car seat. Most of the danger is in many parents not securing their children properly; straps snug and not loose, pads up on the shoulders, and chest harness near shoulder level. I’m 49 with four children (4, 7, 17, and 19), and I’ve heard it all through the years like don’t put cereal in an infants bottle or they’ll get fat. Yeah right, mine are all string beans, and it resulted in me and them getting a good night’s sleep by doing it. Put a baby on soy milk (they never did that years ago) because they are throwing up too much. Every single mom I know that went along with that one now all have children that are lactose-intolerant. My 17-year-old did that when he was an infant, and he got over it soon afterwards–no lactose-intolerance there; but, hey, that’s my two cents! 🙂

  • In the US they are getting much more strict about car seats. Way more than they used to be! They like to see children in car seats until they are 90 pounds! That’s just crazy!

    We joked at a family function that kids get the sex talk in school and are handed condoms before they can get out of car seats! I told my aunt, “They are all about safety in more ways than one.”

    My kids are in car seats, but 90 pounds just seems nuts!

    • I would have been in a carseat until grade 9….and even then I was only 96lbs {and under 5′ so probably didn’t meet the height requirement either lol} – I’m in favor of extended times but 90lbs does seem a bit excessive for sure.

  • I turned both of mine at around 18 months.

    In the past I’ve had people who offered me rides scoff at me for being a stickler when it comes to carseats and not wanting my less than 40lb kid to be put in a regular booster seat instead of a 5 point carseat.

    Here in BC, Canada once they’re 4 feet 9 inches OR 9 years old they don’t have to be in a booster seat anymore. My daughter won’t be anywhere near 4 feet 9 inches when she’s 9 so I’m not clear on why they put an age on it. Consider weight and height, but age is irrelevant in terms of where the seatbelt sits on the child’s body.

  • Our recommendations here in NS are a bit different ( ) – DS (14mon) has met the age & weight recommendations, but isn’t walking yet, so he’s still rear facing. He’s a heavy (and tall) kidlet, but our seat is RF to 40 lbs, and FF to 60-65, so it should be ok. To each his own though – we’ll probably turn him around when he nears in on the 40lbs, unless he gets REALLY vocal about being RF.

    • I find the walking criteria interesting – what does that have to do with readiness for being forward facing, I wonder? Everleigh was walking at 9 months, so that seems a little odd to have that be a factor.

  • Back when DS wasn’t even a year old (he was around 9 or 10 months) she was actually at us to switch him around since he was a tall baby and his legs were touching the seat. I actually caught her uptown one day with my son and she had him sitting forward facing. I was never so mad before in my life and took him with me since I had just gotten off work. I had DH talk to her about it, and she changed her ways for awhile but as soon as he had turned one the nagging began again.

    I wanted to keep my son rear facing longer. And I really wish I had. He had turned 1 in June, and we switched him forward facing in July. But that was due to my MIL getting on my husbands back about how he was tall and should be switched forward facing. We finally caved in and did so, with this next baby things are going to be different. I’m the mother and I know what is best for my child. He will sit rear facing for much longer then his brother did, regardless of what the MIL says is the “right” thing to do.

    Sorry for the long rant!! Just remember do what feels right for your child and not what other people think. Personally I would never keep a child rear facing until they were 45 lbs. But I would however keep my child rear facing past a year old, and I plan to do so with this next child.

    • In the first paragraph “she” is referring to MIL. I had written the second paragraph first but then switched there places since I thought it flowed better the other way around. lol