Rear-Facing Basics

Posted in: Rear-Facing Seats

smilingbabyWhy ride rear-facing?

Rear-facing kids are 5 times safer than those riding forward-facing.

Who should ride rear-facing?

All children who are within the rear-facing height and weight limits for their converticle car seats, no matter what their age–but certainly all infants and toddlers under 2.

Where should rear-facing kids ride?

In the center of the back seat. The center is 43% safer than the side because you cannot take a direct hit if you are sitting in the center.**

When should a child switch from rear-facing to forward-facing?

rfweightscaledrfheadscaledThe American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids “should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible car seat for as long as possible,” which means till they are too tall or too heavy for their child safety seat. Likewise, NHTSA recomends “Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.”

Too Tall: If head is within one inch of the top of the child safety seat.
Too Heavy: If child is over the rear-facing weight limit for their convertible seat (typically 35-50 pounds).

NOTE: It is OK for the child’s feet to touch the vehicle seat. This is SAFE and is NOT uncomfortable.

thumb_gracosafeseatthumb_decathlon_onyx_200Which child safety seats go rear-facing?

Infant seats: For newborns and infants up to 22 – 40 pounds (weight limit depends on the model of the seat)
Convertible seats: Rear-facing for babies and toddlers up to 30, 35, 40 or even 50 pounds and then forward-facing for kids up to 40 pounds or more.

**Note: If you have more than one child in the rear seat, the forward-facing child should sit in the center, since this child is less safe by virtue of being forward-facing.

9 Responses to “Rear-Facing Basics”

  1. Kristy says:

    I was just wondering how the base works on an infant carseat. I have a rear facing baby trend and to me it seems like the carseat would just go flying out of the base in a crash. How can that little think sustain an impact and the seat not release?

    • The carrier is locked into the base using typically 2-4 metal connections (depends on the particular car seat how many metal connections are used). Seats are designed and crash tested to ensure the carrier stays locked into the base in a crash. While there have been instances of carriers coming out of the base in a crash, these are very rare given how frequently carriers + bases are used in the US.

  2. Nour says:

    I recently read errors in installation based on spacing between front seat and rear facing seat. How much space is needed? My infant seat is right behind the driver’s seat so unless I want to sit all the way against the steering wheel, there isn’t much space between the seats. Is there a minimum? Here’s the article

    • Nour – It depends on the car seat manufacturer. Most want enough space to slip a sheet of paper between the car seat and the front seat. A few, like Evenflo, want an inch and a half of space with some of their seats. Some manufacturers allow the car seat to touch the front seat – but you must be careful when doing this to check that the vehicle manufacturer also allows this, as there are frequently airbag sensors in the back of the front seat that can be affected by any type of contact/pressure on the back of the front seat.

  3. Sage says:

    What if you are a shorter person and putting the child in the middle is a little difficult? Do you put the car seat on the bench seat first, get in the back seat then move the car seat over to the car seat base?

  4. Tiffany says:

    I have an 04 explorer. (No third row) I recently installed my Cybex Aton in the center seat. The base is very tight with lap belt, no movement. However when my put the carrier into the base it’s slightly higher on the right side. Is this an issue because of the shoulder belt? Should I reinstall with latch by the door?

  5. Destinee says:

    Can you install a rear facing child restraint in a vehicle that has an armrest or middle console that folds down. I have heard that it is ok as long as the vehicle owner’s manual does not specifically state that it should not be done. The installation would be done with seat belt because there is no center LATCH in the vehicle (2014 Kia Forte)

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