42 answers

Big Girl Car Seat

Hi Ladies! I just have a question for you all. I have a 9 month old who is still in her infant travel carseat, the one that you can just pull in and out of the car? And she keeps kicking the back of the seat and is very long. I was told by a few people that it was up to me if I wanted to change her to a forward facing carseat. I was also told that it would do more harm than good in an rear-end accident if she was rear facing and her feet were against the seat. Like her legs would get broken because she was too big for the seat. But, she is only 9 months old and I am nervous to get her a big girl carseat. She is 19 lbs, so I thought it wouldnt be too bad, but needed other mothers advice. Help?!

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So What Happened?™

Wow ladies, thank you so much for all the responses! I am so glad to see how passionate you all are about the safety of other womans children. I have taken all your thoughts and suggestions into considersation and we have purchased a convertible carseat that is able to stay rear-facing. Thank you all for your help!!

Featured Answers

Hi C.,
You should get a convertable car seat that is rear facing until the age of one and then you change it to forward facing. I was confused at first as to what the rules are, but they were finally explained to me by my ped. Babies should be rear facing until the age of 1 and at least 20 poinds. I have a 9 month as well and we just bought the Evenflo convertable car seat and she loves it. Basically she should still be rear facing until the age of 1. Hope that helps.

My second son was really big and long and I ran into the same problem. A forward faceing seat is not safe for 9 months though. You can find a convertable seat that is rear facing but gives the baby more room and when it is time to move to a forward facing seat, you can flip it around. They are a bit pricey but the safety aspect far outweighs that. Good luck!

Nine months is way to early. Go to this link. It provides information on why rear facing is better, even if their legs are long. Plus gives links to some crash test videos. Plus the law is 20 lbs AND one year old.


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Hi C., All of the research I've ever read says babies are the safest if left in a rear facing seat until they are at least 1 yr old. You can go ahead and purchase the next phase of car seat if she meets the weight requirements and many of them allow you to still keep them rear facing until she reaches the 1 yr mark. Good luck.

You can get a bigger car seat and still keep her rear facing. Some people keep their children rear facing until they are 3 years of age. It is the safest way for her to travel. If she has outgrown the infant seat, then get a convertible seat. They can be used rear or forward facing and many go up until the child is 40-65 lbs.

Federal law, as well as KS and MO are very clear on the regulations. You can be ticketed and fined. Here it is: ONE YEAR AND 20 pounds. Not or, not length, not anything else. Exactly 12 months old and 20 pounds regardless of length. Even 30 pounds at months have to be rear-facing until one year of age. My daughter is in the same situation, but as a CPST (child passenger safety trainer) I can tell you this is the law, and it really is for their own safety. Rear facing is actually less harmful in a crash because the worst they get is broken bones. Forward facing, they can be crushed. I get this phone call at least 20 times a day, and get a lot of angry parents yelling at me for quoting the law. Your friends are right in that ultimately it is your choice, but from the law and safety standpoint I have give you the information so you can make an informed decision. Hope this helps.

Get the Britax Marathon!!!

It's time to get her a convertable car seat and keep her facing rear until she is at least one year old, even if her legs still look squished. God forbid you were in a car accident, I think you'd rather her break her leg(s) than her neck! At 9 months her neck muscles are not strong enough to handle a crash facing forward.
I switched both my children over to a Britax Roundabout when they were 5 months old. The seat is pretty pricey but I saved the boxes and 4 years later when I was done with them I was able to sell them both on ebay for around $115 each!
Hope this helps!

She may not like having her legs scrunched, but as far as safety, the measure is if her head comes over the top of the seat. Someone mentioned an Evenflo convertible. We have the Triumph, I think that might be the one she was talking about. We've been very happy with it, and our daughter is 4 and still using it.

we upgraded to a big boy carseat for my son at about the same age. He was very long and didn't look comfortable w/ his legs bent all the time. He was also too heavy to carry around in the infant seat. We bought the bigger carseat and had it rear facing until just before his 1st birthday. Just make sure you buy a seat that can go forward and backwards.

From what I remember, you are supposed to keep your LO in a rear facing carseat until 1 year of age or 20 lbs. Since she's still a few months from 1, I would recommend getting a forward facing carseat that you can also face backwards. Maybe if it's bigger than an infant carseat (ie: pumpkin seat), her legs will not touch the back of the seat. If it still doees, I relaly think it's up to you. I would see what your pediatrician recommends - but I am thinking he'd say to keep her rear facing. I kept our DD rear facing until like 11 months - she is very tall for her age, too, but was not quite 20 lbs (I think she was 19 lbs when I faced her forward).

Oh, no, you can't put her forward facing until she is at least 20 lbs AND 1 year. If she is outgrowing her infant seat, they make convertible seats that start rearfacing and then can turn around when the child is of the right weight and age. They are actually recommending keeping children rear facing for closer to 30 lbs. Although,I've turned mine all around by 22 lbs or so. By 1, they are pretty bored facing backwards. But you really shouldn't face her forwards until 20 lbs and 1 year because of neck control. I have my almost 9 month old in a rear facing convertible seat, they are much bigger and more comfortable.

Nine months is way to early. Go to this link. It provides information on why rear facing is better, even if their legs are long. Plus gives links to some crash test videos. Plus the law is 20 lbs AND one year old.


It is illegal to put your babu into a front facing carseat until she iis both 1 year and 20 lbs. My ped. says she has neverheard of a babys legs being broken in a car wreck due to the car seat being turned backwards. The reason for the car seat being backwards is to reduce the risk of injury.

I always thought that too,however now that my Huband is a carseat tech I know differently.Your carseat will tell on the side how much weight and length it goes up to.If she exceeds those measurements then you need to get a convertable seat.Most carseats are 20 lbs so you might need one anyway.DO NOT forward face her!A convertable carseat can rear face and forward face and that's what you need.She needs to rear face til she's one year even if she's 20 lbs.And remember that's just the law.If you talk to someone in a carseat program they will recommend you rear face your child as long as possible.My son was 2 and a half when we turned him around.If you have any more questions for me or my husband feel free to contact me.

She is absolutely too small to be forward facing. The old recommendation was 20 lbs. AND 1 year old. The new recommendation is 35 lbs. Her legs will not get broken if you are in an accident while she is rear facing, but her neck is not strong enough to take the force should you turn her around.

As for convertible car seats, I really like our Evenflo Triumph Advance. My son is also very long, and he has plenty of room to be rear facing for a long time (he is the same age as your daughter, but heavier).

Good Morning C. - as I understand it you shouldn't turn your child around until they are one year old AND weigh at least 20 pounds. This is when it will be safest to turn them around. Ultimately they are safest in a rear facing seat for as long as possible. I hope this helps! Have a great day.


Only 1 of my 5 was small enough to stay in an infant seat longer than that - she sounds ready.

The law in Missouri is to be rear-facing until 12 months AND 20lbs. There is study after study that rear-facing is actually the safest for a child in an accident. Yes her legs maybe broken in an accident (highly unlikely) but that is better than her neck being broken if she was forward facing. I would do some research on your own before you make that decision to turn her around. Here is just one website: http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/StayRearFacing.aspx

Hi C.,
I have the same situation...10 mo old in 97% for height....and just this week changed over to the convertible car seat and have it REAR facing. From all the research I have done, it is not safe to be forward facing, they are just to little. We went with the Britax Marathon and are really liking them. We started with the decathlon and didn't like the straps so we switched to the marathon and love it! Good luck to you with the transition!

The law is rear facing until 20 pounds AND one year. However, they do say that rear facing until 3 years is safest. Use your judgment as long as you are obeying the law since it is for your daughter's protection. It is much worse if they are front facing because their head will snap right off of their neck. Watch videos of baby dummies in car seats on you tube. When you crash at 70 miles an hour, it can be pretty hard to watch.

Under no circumstances should a 9 month old be in a forward facing car seat. Children should stay rear facing for as long as possible. Which would you rather happen, your daughter get her legs broken in an accident or break her neck. St. Louis Children's Hosp. is recommending keeping kids rear facing for 2 years! Kids are flexible, it doesn't bother her if her legs are a little scrunched up. Most other countries keep their children rear facing for four years. Please keep her rear facing.

DO NOT put her in a forward facing car seat until she is AT LEAST one year old. Their neck muscles are not developed enough before then and they could be very seriously injured in a crash. The experts are now saying the longer they can stay rear facing the better because it is much safer for any age. They are also supposed to stay rear facing until they are at least 20 pounds, so if she is one year and less than 20 pounds she stays rear facing, and if she is over 20 pounds and less than one year she stays rear facing. You could get a convertable car seat that can stay rear facing for now and then be turned around when she is old enough, that should give her some more leg room.

The next step is to get a convertible carseat. They are made to be rear-facing for the latter part of the child's first year and up to 20 or so pounds. At the one year check-up talk to your Ped.Dr. and confirm that your child is large enough and strong enough to face forward if that is what you choose. The convertible carseat is usually bigger and their legs are not as jammed into the back seat. Please do not keep your baby in the infant seat and just turn her forward. You are risking serious injury.

My second son was really big and long and I ran into the same problem. A forward faceing seat is not safe for 9 months though. You can find a convertable seat that is rear facing but gives the baby more room and when it is time to move to a forward facing seat, you can flip it around. They are a bit pricey but the safety aspect far outweighs that. Good luck!

My husband and I produce gigantic children (my 6 month old already weighs 21 pounds and is 28 inches long)! My first son I had to turn around early for the exact same reason. Although the "law says" one thing, it just wasn't practical for my son to be backwards at that point b/c his legs were squished. I talked with my pediatrician about it and he bascially said, "obviously I need to turn the seat around at this point" I was never stopped or in an accident, but given his size I believe we woudl have been okay in either situation.

Do not change her to forward facing. Even after one year that should be a last resort. Legs against the back seat is not big deal, please do a little research and you will see the horrible things that can happen if you switch too soon. I have just now, at 27lbs and 30", switched my 14 month old to forward facing because he had out grown the Chicco Key Fit 30. This is a kid that wears 24m to 2T clothing. You still have plenty of rear facing options. Use them. Their heads are still very large in comparison to the rest of their bodies and their necks do not have the muscles to support them in a crash. A broken leg is better than a broken neck.

Options for rear facing seats:
Chicco Key Fit 30 (consumer reports best pick)
Evenflo Triumph (consumer reports best pick)
Britax Roundabout

I also recommend getting a convertible carseat. They are great because they allow considerable more freedom than the carrier. That way when she hits the year mark you can turn her around. My little guy is over a year and still rear facing because of weight. We took him out of the carrier at 4 months b/c we felt he was starting to lookin to crunched due to his height.

Get her a convertible car seat that will face the rear and then switch to forward later. The American Academy of Peditarics recommends facing the rear for as long as possible now. It is no longer 1 year and 20 pounds, most kids can stay rear facing now until 2 to 3 years of age. the reason for this is because forward facing puts a huge strain and the neck and spinal cord(there have been cases of stretching the spinal cord up to two inches in a crash). There have been NO documented cases of leg injuries from rear facing car seats that were properly installed. Do not always go by what the pediatrician says, unless they are properly trained in this area, sometimes they do not know the new standards. Find a check station in your area, and in Kansas you should find alot!! I know that there will be a class going on there in two weeks in Olathe. We train alot of Kansas troopers and police officers, and Childrens Mercy can help you out also, please find a carseat technician to help install it. You can go to safekids.org and find one in your area. Thanks on behalf of your child for checking this out before you do anything!! Because, it will be her you will have to answer to when something happens, no one else, use your resources!!

I had a similar situation with my first born being really tall. We made the decision to go ahead and switch him around even though he was still techinically a little under the requirements. But ultimately, it's your judgement call.

The forward facing 5 point carseats are all very well made and you can put the neck rolls around them if they are having problems with their heads. But overall, I think she will probably be more comfortable being able to stretch her legs (especially on longer trips). PLUS, she now has the added bonus of being able to SEE you which will keep her entertained as well.

Hi C.,
You should get a convertable car seat that is rear facing until the age of one and then you change it to forward facing. I was confused at first as to what the rules are, but they were finally explained to me by my ped. Babies should be rear facing until the age of 1 and at least 20 poinds. I have a 9 month as well and we just bought the Evenflo convertable car seat and she loves it. Basically she should still be rear facing until the age of 1. Hope that helps.

It is not true that is up to you if you want to move her to a forward facing. The law is they have to be 1 years old AND 20 pounds to be in a forward facing carseat. If she is getting too big for her baby carseat you should go with a convertible carseat that can go in the car forward and backward. It has to be backward until she turns one and weighs 20 pounds. With a bigger carseat her feet will be less likely to touch the back of the seat and if they still do it is still safer than having her face forward. She is still too young and her neck muscles haven't developed enough to handle impact if you were to get in an accident with her facing forward. Good luck.

Hey C.!

Just FYI....the requirements for forward-facing car seats is 20 lbs. AND 1 year of age!

However, you can use the convertible car seat in the rear facing position. We did that with our daughter (now 3). She outgrew the infant carrier well before her first birthday. So, the bought the Britax Marathon convertible car seat and used it in the rear facing position until she turned one. We still use is now!

Best wishes finding a seat that works for you guys!!

Our doctor wanted our children facing a the rear until atleast a year old. Both of my kids had to graduate to a bigger carseat that was either rear or forward facing. If you turn it around too soon and you are in a car wreck their next is not strong enough for their big head and it is dangerous.

Kids need to be rear facing until 1 year. Their necks aren't strong enough before 1. I would suggest buying a car seat that you can install rear facing until she turns one and then reverse it to forward facing. You will need to buy one anyway - go ahead and do it know.

I would recommend a convertable car seat that can fit your child for as long as possible. If you get one that only goes up to 25 pounds you'll have to buy another one again soon!

Britax and Cosco's Alpha Omega Elite are the best two I've found out there, FYI.

At nine months it isn't time for a forward facing seat... but rather a convertible seat. We have a Graco Domain and it is great!! There are a lot of convertibles out there and the best part is you won't need another till your booster (around 3yo). I know it might seem ok to turn them around early, but it really isn't. Keep your little one safest and rear-facing till her bday! Best Wishes!

I had the same problem with my son so we got a convertable carseat that could stay in the reverse position til he was 1 year and 21 lbs. You can find ones that aren't to overly priced at Wal-Mart and Target. It came in handy because then when it was time to turn it around we had an extra one to have in my husband's vehicle. Hope this helps.

She really needs to still be rear facing until she is 1 year old and/or 20 pounds. Safety first! I'd definately recommend Britax Marathon Convertible Car Seat - Allie. It's comfortable and cute pink with brown polka-dots plus it has the highest saftey rating and customer satisfaction rating. You can use it rear facing until she's old enough and/or heavy enough to be forward facing. This carseat is a bit expensive but it's an investment that I felt like was totally worth it. I have 2 of them and my girls love riding in them. All four of my children outgrew the infant carriers early since they were always long/tall. Check the local stores or just shop online at ToysRUs.com or Amazon.com. And, when switching to the convertible seat I didn't have problems with their feet hitting the back of the seat anymore. Good luck!

My daughter is in daycare and the local cops pull parent's over on a random basis just to make sure the carseat is instead correctly. By law you cannot turn your child around until they are over a year old and weight more than 20-30 lbs. You get to pick the weight. Length does not matter. Babies neck muscles are not strong enough to stop their head if you should be in an accident. I would buy a convertible car seat that you can turn around in a few months.

Hi C.,

My little guy is 9 months old and VERY long. He's in the 97% for height. We actually had to move him from the pumpkin style carseat at 6 months because he exceeded the height limits on the seat. We bought a larger convertible seat which can be rear or forward facing. They are supposed to remain rear-facing until 1 year of age and a certain weight requirement. I'm not sure what the weight requirement is, but you could ask your pediatrician. Good luck.

Ok she is only 9 months old she may need a bigger carseat yes but only still rear facing Not forward facing she isn't the recomened age nor weight.She has very little control of her upper body if you did get into any car accident and she was forward facing she will suffer severe damage the rear is the best place for her the carseat will take most of the impact not the child that is if she is installed properly.As for her legs getting broken never heard of that but have heard of babies and toddlers getting ejected from thier carseats because they weren't restrained properly.They have several carseats that are called Convertiable carseats for rearfacing then moves to forward facig and these can be used from bith till 30-35 lbs rearfacing then 40-80 lbs forward facing,then comes another carseat that is forward facing with an internal harness till she is ready for a booater seat at 40+ lbs then they can be removed to use the builtin carseat belts but that's not untill she is 4yrs old or older.Depending on where you live ask around or call the drs office to find out about carseat safety checklanes they are very useful and helpful they have been trained on carseats and the risks and will install it for you the correct way and show you how.Or you can go to your local fire dept,highway patrol,police dept and they will be able to help you

I haven't read all the responses, but my pediatrician said that medically they are ready for a forward facing as soon as the walk. That said you may need to keep them in a rear facing until one or 35 pounds by the Missouri laws, you might check that out before changing. We got our 8 month old granddaughter a $45 rear facing from Walmart that can be changed to a forward facing later, she's the height and weight of a average one year old and she is fine in the seat, I don't think broken legs are the big issue here, it's the possibility of a brain injury with the head being thrown around.

We had the same problem with our oldest. We got one of the seats that can go both ways and kept if rear facing until she turned 1. She was in that seat until she was big enough for a booster seat. We just went with one of the cheaper ones from Walmart and it has now been through two kids.

At nineteen ibs, I believe she is too light. Forward facing carseats begine at 20lbs as i remember. I also had long children and remember waiting for that last pound. I might be wrong, though. The carseats say what size they are made for and you have to stick to that or it is not safe. A good place for car seat advice is usually the hospital and the fire department. They can check you car seats, weigh your daughter and even make sure you have it installed correctly. The fire dept. can also give you advice on quick access in case of an accident.

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