Rear-facing Car Seat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which Baby Can Be In a Forward-Facing Seat?

No wonder grandparents are confused about car seats.

And, no wonder they flunked a recent survey on childhood safety and nutrition.

The answer to a survey question about the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations on infant safety and nutrition changed in the two years between the time the survey was conducted and the time results were presented and I interviewed the author of the survey.

Dr. Amanda Soong, pediatrician, professor and mother of two, decided that grandparents might need to have their information updated on safety and health recommendations after a discussion with her mother on outfitting the crib for her new infant.

Dr. Soong gave a 15-question survey to 49 grandparents in three grandparenting support groups.

This is the sixth question on the survey.

Which baby can be in a forward-facing [car] seat?

  • 9 months, 22 pounds (24.5% of the grandparents picked this answer)
  • 12 months, 18 pounds (14.3%)
  • 9 months, 18 pounds (10.2%)
  • 12 months, 22 pounds (51% picked this answer, which was the AAP recommendation in 2010)

Now, with new information showing that there is a distinct advantage for under-two-year-olds in a rear-facing, compared to a forward-facing seat, the AAP has updated its recommendations to 2 years, or the height-weight limit of the seat, which can be found on the back of the seat.

Car seat limits for infant seats are 22 to 35 pounds.

Limits for convertible seats (flip from rear-facing to forward facing) are from 30 to 40 pounds .

The height limit for both types is within one inch of the top of the car seat.

Just over half of our grandparents picked the answer for what was then the AAP recommendation, 12 months and 22 pounds, more if you give them credit for the other 12-month option, so they get a passing grade on this question.

Why the Change?

Children between the ages of one and two were found to be five times safer in rear-facing, compared to front-facing car seats.

They were 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in rear-facing seats.

According to a 2007 study, rear-facing seats better distribute the force of an accident over the entire body, better protecting a baby’s spine, neck and head.

And, yes, AAP took five years before incorporating this new information into their recommendations.

They don’t change lightly.

They used to say the earliest you could change the car seat from rear-facing to forward was one year.

Now, they say don’t do it until two years or the maximum height-weight limit of the car seat.

I know. I know.

“I raised (whatever number) of kids before we even had rear-facing car seats and they were fine.”

Substitute this argument and you’ll understand why it’s important to change.

“I smoked (whatever number) of packs of cigarettes a day and I never got lung cancer.”

Yep. You can sometimes beat the odds.

But, knowing the odds is what helps you increase them in your favor.

Car seats weren’t even invented until 1962.

They certainly weren’t common when my first son was born in 1968.

I carried him home from the hospital in my arms, not trusting the bassinet in the back seat.

So, grandparents can be forgiven for not knowing currents laws and recommendations.

They can’t, however, be forgiven for arguing with their children about it.

Rear-facing seats are safer for children up to the age of 2.

Get our free report on how things have changed since Boomers raised our children, How to Leap the Generation Gap: 58 Reasons Child-Rearing Is Different Today, below and get more posts like this one on Child Safety and current recommendations:

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When did you first get car seats for your children?

Have you figured out how to put your grandchildren in rear-facing seats?

Have you and your children ever had a conversation about this?

To you and the continued safety of your precious grandchildren.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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