Don’t rush! To protect your child, keep them rear-facing for as long as possible, at least until age 2. The old “1 year and 20 pounds” milestone is no longer the recommended standard.
Unfortunately, it takes time for state laws to catch up with best practice safety recommendations. All major safety organizations along with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend this new guideline.
Children in the second year of life are five times less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash if they ride in a rear-facing car seat. Turning a child under age 2 to a forward-facing position can result in head, neck or spinal cord injuries in the event of a crash. Babies under age 2 simply aren’t yet strong enough to withstand strong crash forces without the extra protection that a rear-facing car seat provides.
When your child outgrows their infant-only bucket seat, it’s time to use a convertible car seat – a seat that can be used in a rear-facing position, and when they’re older, in a forward-facing position.
When your child reaches the height or weight limit of the convertible seat, it’s time to switch to the forward-facing position.