Hey there, you question caught my eye. I have an 18th month old, and we turned him to forward facing when he was one. It has worked out fine, but I recently took a car seat safety class held by a State Trooper and he advised that children not be forward facing until they are at the weight limit for rear-facing as specified by the manufacturer of the seat - reason: rear-facing car seats are 71% effective against infant death in an accident, forward facing seats are only 53% effective.
That being said, you can certainly still transition out of the infant seat into a convertible car seat/booster. We have a Safety 1st car seat that will last my son until he is 85 pounds. Almost all of these function in both a rear-facing and a forward-facing position, just check the manufacturer specs. So, my personal advice would be to graduate out of the infant car seat into a convertible car seat/booster and leave him rear-facing until he hits the weight specified by the manufacturer.
The transition to a car seat from an infant seat brings a lot of changes with it. Here are a few more tips from the Trooper:
1. Never use a car seat that:
a. Is older than 5 years (based on the manufacturer date printed on the seat).
b. Has a 3-point harness system (instead of 5 points). The baby will slide out the side in an impact.
c. Has any history that you may not be aware of. No garage sales, no hand-me downs. Beyond impact/accident history, the people before you may not have handled the seat correctly and damaged important features unknowingly. The best intentions won’t save your child – get a new seat.
2. Make sure your shoulder harnesses are positioned correctly:
a. Rear-facing – Shoulder harness should be at or below the shoulder level.
b. Forward-facing – Harness should be at or above shoulder level.
3. Make sure your retainer clip (the plastic clip that is between the shoulder harnesses and the crotch lock) is at armpit level for your baby. Lower can injure their abdomen in a crash and will not restrain them, higher can damage their airway and chest.
4. Don’t use any item that hangs on the back of a seat (like a mirror, or seat toy) with a rear-facing car seat. Dislodged during an accident, they have killed children before from impact. Remember that a 2 pound object in a crash going 25 miles per hour will fly with 50 pounds of pressure. That is more than enough to really hurt your child, or you!
5. If you are using the tether system in a forward facing toddler seat:
A. The tether hooks must be used facing down when being latched to the bar under the seat back. Facing up, they can come loose.
B. When using tether hooks, you must use both the bottom and the top tethers every single time. If you only use the bottom tethers, the seat is not installed correctly and will not protect your child in an accident. Must use top, as well as bottom.
C. Check the back of your seat for support at each shoulder harness level. Do not use a level that does not have additional bar or honeycomb support. Just plastic backing is not enough to save your child.