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When Can Your Baby Face Forward in a Car Seat? Is It Safe to Do So?

  • Safety Tips
  • Natasha Young
  • 5 minutes

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Driving around with your youngling is certainly a wonderful experience. But putting them in a car seat when they are toddlers can be frightening! You may have researched child safety and car seats to choose the best. After all, you’d want nothing but the best for your child. But did you know that where your child faces while driving is important as well? Rear-facing seating is usually recommended but until when? Read more about when can your baby face forward in a car seat. 

when can baby face forward in car seat 2022

Why is rear-facing seating advised? 

The safest option is keeping your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. To understand why you should not switch your child’s rear-facing car seat too soon, you must know what happens during an accident.  

According to Dr. Hoffman, M.D., FAAP, VC of the American Academy of Pediatrics, if a car smashes at around 30 mph, it may fling a kid weighing around 4.5 kg. With a force of about 250 kg of momentum. Most car seat manufacturers build seats that allow toddlers to remain rear-facing until they weigh around 18 kg. Some convertible options can hold more than 20 kg. 

Via The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The design of a rear-facing car seat is a protective shield that can protect your baby’s head, neck, spine, and body during an impact. When your child is facing forward, they are merely held by the harness straps. Their head might be yanked forward. It’s difficult to comprehend, but the head accounts for around 25% of a child’s body weight.  

We all know that newborns are delicate. But even if they appear larger, toddlers and young children are also at risk. The vertebrae of a toddler do not fuse until they are between the ages of three and six. This implies that the spinal cord is not protected when subjected to collision forces. These conditions together might result in spinal or brain damage and death. 

When can your baby face forward in a car seat? 

A rear-facing car seat is the safest method for an infant to ride in a car. However, if you are planning a vacation and your infant is older than one year, you may be tempted to flip the seat to face forward. If you must, place the car seat in the center of the vehicle’s rear seat. In the case of an accident, this is the safest place in the car for your infant. Once your child is two years old or older and has exceeded the height and weight constraints of a rear-facing car seat, you can have them sit face forward in a car seat. This is at a height of 3 feet and a weight of 13.5 kg. 

Via The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

In an updated study, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that toddlers stay rear-facing for as long as possible. Your child should stay in the seat until they are of the maximum height or weight limit for that seat. This new suggestion does not specify an age for a kid and can extend beyond two years, potentially up to four years, depending on your child’s size. 

Safety precautions for forward-facing seating 

There are certain crucial safety considerations to bear in mind while turning your child’s car seat forward-facing. 

Make sure that the car seat is properly installed 

Double-check that they are correctly secured when strapping your child into a forward-facing car seat. Dr. Garbi emphasizes that you should focus on the most critical safety aspects, such as ensuring it is properly bonded into the car, tight straps on their shoulders, and the buckles and clips in the proper positions. 

Via American Academy of Pediatrics

Most essential, always secure the rope while using forward-facing chairs. The tether is a strap connecting the car seat’s top to an anchor in the trunk. The top of the seat is the most secure, and a child’s head is propelled forward by up to eight inches following a collision. 

Never allow a child to sit in the front row 

Until the age of 13, all children should ride in the rear seat in the right car seat, whether forward-facing or in a booster seat. Because passenger seat airbags were developed for adults, they are extremely dangerous to youngsters. The force of a deployed airbag (about 200 miles per hour) can cause serious head and neck injuries.  

Always choose the middle of the back seat  

If feasible, the child should sit in the back middle seat to avoid the danger of direct contact from an accident. According to research published in Pediatrics, the center seat in the rear seat is 43% safer than the side.  If you have more than one child, the forward-facing one is advised to be in the middle since they are less protected. 

when can baby face forward in car seat 2022

Bottomline 

Although it may be tempting to switch your infant or toddler to a forward-facing car seat early on, the safest position for them is rear-facing. Keeping infants rear-facing until they reach the maximum height and weight requirements lowers the risk of major spine, head, and neck injuries. As any parent will tell you, a child’s safety is a primary responsibility. And knowing when to make your kid’s car seat face forward is important. As it provides you with much-needed peace of mind while driving! 


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