OOPS, I DID IT AGAIN: The Importance of Rear-Facing Car Seats

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Who remembers riding in the back of a pickup truck or sitting on their dad’s lap while he let’s you “drive” without even so much as a seat belt on? Of course you have. We all did it. I’m not going to preach, but today I’d like to talk about the importance of keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible.

The laws vary by state, but these laws are minimal at best and designed to ensure people aren’t allowing their kids to jump around the backseat. You can find car seat safety laws by state here.

Regardless, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently changed their car seat safety recommendations (no, it’s not a law, but these recommendations are designed to keep your kid safe). The AAP now recommends that all children remain in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 2 or the child reaches the maximum height and weight limits set by the manufacturer of the seat. In addition, the AAP recommends that children are in a booster seat until they have reached 4’9″ AND (not OR) are at least 8 years old.

Now I’m not saying you’re a bad parent if you don’t follow these guidelines, because I certainly haven’t become an expert in my 17 months of child rearing. I’m just laying out the facts so you can make an informed decision.

Since I’m not an expert on car seat safety (or parenting) and can only tell you what is recommended, I strongly urge all parents to get their car seat checked regularly at a safety inspection center. Many car seat checks are free or ask for a small donation. They’ll make sure your car seat is properly installed, because after all, the safest car seat is the one that fits the child and the car, and is used properly every single time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists car seat inspections station by area here.

Now, I’ll leave you with this video about the importance of rear-facing that will address many of the questions you probably have.

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  1. I forgot all about Britney showing off her expert mothering skills…lol!

  2. Mason will ride backwards in my car until he can no longer fit that direction.

  3. I was surprised to learn that the NHTSA actually recommends children ride rear facing until 4! I currently have all 3 of my boys rear facing in my van (3 1/2, 2, 6 months). My oldest just flipped forward in daddy’s car. Parents really need to be informed! There have been many cases (including local to me) of police citing parents for breaking carseat laws by having children rear face beyond a year. They claim that the law is to flip at a year or 20 pounds, so parents are frightened in to flipping far too soon! NO! The minimum in most states is 1 year AND 20 pounds or states proper use of the seat (which no seat allows forward facing before 22 pounds). Thank you for spreading the word!

  4. My husband mentioned the other day that he wanted to look into what the specific laws are (here in Canada) about car seats. As you saw, though, those are likely the minimum recommendations. We put both our daughters in front-facing car seats at age 1 because it was easier with our vehicle. I think they are both happier when they can see us, instead of the back window. If there are two kids sharing the seat, that might be different, but they feel less alone when they can see the rest of the family in the vehicle. At the same time, safety is important too… so it’s sometimes hard to make a good decision.

  5. I didn’t really know the importance of keeping my daughter in a rear-facing seat back in the 90’s, and luckily, we’ve never been in an accident. BUT..I see so many people with their kids out of car seats and not even wearing seat belts, which is illegal in Florida, and it drives me nuts!

  6. Reading posts like these sometimes makes me grateful my girls are in their teens. Car seat safety was a big issue with me and sometimes you feel like you are never making the right choice. As parents all we can really do is go with our gut and obey the laws the best we can. No one is an expert and no one does the right thing every single time.

  7. My boys are 7,5, and 4. The eldest couldn’t fit into a car seat or booster past 5yrs old. He’s tall, I’m 4’11 and he’s 4’10!!! the youngest is still in a harness seat but forward facing and the middle one is in a booster now. They’re all tall boys and pretty soon I see my little one getting into a booster seat too. The safer you can be with your children the better it is. I still can’t remember ever being in a car seat (i’m sure when I was a newborn!) but as a young child I don’t remember it. I know my dad was always a safe driver, so thank goodness for that.

  8. Wow, I didn’t know about the changes, thankfully my kids are older than 2 now. It’s sometimes hard to keep up with the car seat laws, or at least the recommendations, as often as they seem to change. Thanks for posting this information, as it’s so important to know what we should be doing to keep our little ones safe! 🙂

  9. Good to know. I hear that law enforcement officials call the rear facing car seats the orphan seat because in the case of really bad car crashes, that’s the only seat where they find survivors.

  10. My boys outgrew rearfacing a long time ago, but I do believe that too many parents are lax in car seat safety !
    I’m glad my 3year old really enjoys his seat. It’s the one thing he teases his big brothers about… His “cool mean green seat”

  11. This is so important. I hate when I see a child not properly restrained inside a moving car.

  12. I can remember doing all of that. Yeah, it’s really important to have the rear facing. We did that for all three of our kids.

  13. Such an important topic that I shared to facebook and twitter. Thank you.

  14. I remember doing that when I was a kid. Along with lots of other things that were pretty dangerous.

  15. Thanks for sharing! This is info we all need to know and remember

  16. Such important info for any parent of young children. Thanks!

  17. We are still rear facing at 19 months and have no plans to change him!

  18. It is so important to know this information. When my daughter was 4 booster weren’t required then when my son came along he had to be in one until he was 8. Safety standards have changed a lot over the years.

  19. I totally remember riding in the back of pick ups, up front on my parents lap… and (sshh) my dad letting me drive when I was 10!!! UGH… The things we did back when!

  20. Jacqui Odell says:

    My 14 month is front facing, but I didn’t do it until after she turned one. It’s easier and she’s happier seeing us. I didn’t realize you shouldn’t until they are two. I am VERY big on car seat safety. I get frustrated when I see parents have their kids in car seats but the buckles are so loose that they can crawl out of them. I know a mom who has her two year old in just the bottom booster seat with the adult buckle. I bite my tongue every time I go around them. They are so laid back when it comes to car seats. My five year old son barely meets the weight requirement for the bottom booster seat, but yet we still have them in a typical harness booster seat. I feel he is safer and more secured in it.


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