For a long time, the AAP recommended keeping a child’s car seat rear-facing for at least the first year, or until the child reaches the rear-facing height and/or weight limits for his or her car seat. The majority of parents interpreted this as: turn it around when the child turns one. So, around the time Zoey was born, the AAP changed the recommendation to at least two years old. We turned Zoey forward-facing when she was about 20 months old for two reasons:
1) She gets carsick and throws up anytime we’re in the car for more than 20-30 minutes. She does this silently so I never know she’s throwing up until she starts crying and I smell the vomit. I was always worried she would choke or aspirate on the vomit and I wouldn’t know. Also, we thought being forward-facing might reduce the car sickness.
2) I was pregnant. It was just plain easier on me to heft her into a forward-facing seat.
The results were this:
1) Zoey continued to vomit in the car. It actually got worse.
2) Once Eleanor was born, I constantly felt guilty as I snapped her rear-facing car seat in place and looked at Zoey’s forward-facing one and thought about how very, very far she is from those rear-facing height and weight limits. Did you know that studies have shown that rear-facing is 5 times (that’s 500%!) safer for kids than forward-facing? Yeah, try having that thought cruising through your head every single time you buckle your kid in.
It got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. There were absolutely zero reasons for me to keep Zoey forward-facing (especially once we started her on anti-nausea medication for long car rides). There was a really big reason to turn her back around to rear-facing. So I did it. It just made sense, you know?
I was a bit concerned about how Zoey would react, but honestly, she loves it. She gets to sit like Ellie does, gets to look at her “monkey mirror” on the seat back, gets to sit “criss-cross-applesauce,” and gets to recline a bit more. So, extended rear-facing, here we go! I’m betting we make it to four years old before we hit the height limit (12 years old for the weight limit, good lord.)
When did you turn car seats forward-facing with your kiddos? If you’re not in the U.S., what are the standards where you live?
For more information, check out the AAP Car Seat Guidelines 2013 here, or drop me a comment below.