What is the Law?
For most states the legal limit is to rear face infants until at least 1 year and 20lbs. This is the minimum requirement but the new recommendations suggest that children remain rear-facing until the age of 2 or to the height and weight limit of the particular seat. So in other words, if you're child's car seat rear faces until 30lbs and 36 inches then it is safest to rear face your child until they reach that height and weight.
Once your child outgrows their car seat rear-facing, they can forward face. They must stay in a convertible, 5 point harness car seat forward facing until they reach the height and weight limits of the car seat.
One your child outgrows the height and weight limits of their convertible car seat forward facing they can move to a forward facing booster seat. They should ride in a booster until they are 4'9" tall and a regular seat belt fits properly.
Why is it Safer to Rear-Face?
A baby and small child is at much greater risk for a spinal cord injury during a car accident. Rear-facing helps prevent spinal injuries as well as prevents a baby/small child's head from jerking during a car accident.
This video gives a GREAT example of the difference an impact can have on a child in a forward facing car seat vs. a rear-facing car seat.
My child likes to look out the window: Your child can still see out the window while rear facing and won't even know the difference if they have always been rear-facing.
My child's legs are too long: Your child can bend their legs in an indian style position or prop their legs on the back of the seat. Yes, if their were an accident they're legs or hip could possibly break, but like the video said, a leg or hip can be fixed, a spine can't.
My child cries in the car when rear-facing: Your child doesn't like being stuck in the seat and not able to move around on his/her own. My baby cries every time we ride in the car seat. But guess what, he doesn't know anything other than rear facing so he's not crying to be forward facing. If you don't turn your child forward facing they won't ever know the difference. Try to distract them with toys or food. Regardless, wouldn't you rather have your baby screaming at you than not with you at all?
I hope this blog post has show you that rear-facing really is the safest for your infant/toddler.Once they outgrow their car seat rear-facing it is also important to be educated on what is safest for the child forward-facing It might not always be the easy, but it's all about keeping our children safe. As as parents, why would we not want to keep our children as safe as possible?