43 answers

Transitioning Out of Infant Car Seat

Hi all! I have an 8 month old "little boy" who is 21+ lbs. (yes, can we say OINKER? haha) He is also very big and his little legs hang over the edge of his pumpkin seat/infant car seat carrier. He is getting extremely difficult to carry in it, and he even looks too big FOR it. I know the rule is 1 year old and at least 20 lbs. to transition into a rear facing high back car seat with a 5 point harness... I, however, know not EVERYONE follows that rule. I didn't with my other 2 children. I don't think they were quite 1, but also don't think they were 8 months either. They weren't nearly as large as my lil guy though. So should I just go ahead and do it now? Wait a month? Wait until he's one? I know what the law says so I don't need it reiterated - I need advice from moms who have battled this and the solution they came to. :)

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

WOW! The responses were overwhelming! I'm going out next week and buying a convertible seat for my oink oink son and facing him backwards for another couple of months. I think both him and I will be happier! Thanks to all, your advice, stories, and links were a HUGE help!! :)

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I think you are mistaken on the rules. Get a seat that is a convertable. The rule is not 1 year for a rear facing high back. You can put a newborn in one. Get a seat that can go forward or backward and goes up to 40 or so pounds. That will last until he is about 4 or so and goes into a booster. Put it backward for now. At 1 put in forward.

Have you looked into the carseats that are 5-40lbs. The ones that can be used as rear or front facing? There are also 22-80 or so...that are just front facing. With my children I transitioned to a 5-40, this way we could keep them rear facing longer.

Little about me: I am a sahm of 4; my girls are 5 1/2yr., 4yr., and 2 1/2 months and my son is 22 mo.

I say move him to the rear facing 5pt. harness car seat. I had to do that with my son when he was about 5 months old. He was too big for the infant carrier/car seat. Plus, that was hard on my back lugging him and that thing around. I remember how uncomfortable he looked in that little seat. Just my suggestion. :)

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Your little guy can be in a rear-facing convertible car seat from birth (only 5 lbs for many of the Britax models) until 35 pounds! And the recommendation for convertible seats is to keep them REAR facing up to the WEIGHT LIMIT of the seat -- if their legs seem "too long" that is NOT an issue. If you want to spend your money the wisest, so you don't have to go out and buy a booster seat in a couple years, get a convertible 5-pt harnessed carseat that goes up to 65 lbs. This website is a great resource (even if you don't buy from there):

So if you get a seat that goes to 35 lbs rear facing, and 65 lbs forward facing, I'd definitely get him out of the infant seat and into the convertible, keep him REAR facing up to 35 lbs. Then, once he's 35 lbs, I'd turn him front facing and keep in in the 5 pt harness until he hits 65 lbs OR is too tall for the seat (whichever comes first).

Just keep in mind that even though the Britaxes may SEEM expensive, they'll LAST through 65 lbs, several YEARS. And it is well worth the investment to have our kids safe in the car, IMO.

Hi S.,
I was in your situation with my little guy. He is 11 monts and about 25 lbs. We had to move him out of his infant carrier when he was 7 months old. I am using a convertible carseat. It is rear facing until he's a year old and then I can turn it around and make it forward facing. The convertible style works for 5-35lbs rear facing and then 22-40lbs forward facing. I have one for my daughter that goes up to 80lbs forward facing. There are different styles out there. I have an Alpha Sport I got from Babies R Us.

Hi S.,
I too was going through this problem and I just went to Babies R Us yesterday and purchased a new seat. I spent a lot of time trying many different models out. I was vearing for the Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 seat, however I did not purchase that one because it is rated low in consumer ratings and crash tests. I ended up purchasing the Evenflo Triumph Advance Premier Convertible Car Seat - Hampton Park(even though I'm a Graco user) but it is rated #1 in safety ratings and consumer reports. It is for infants and toddlers weighing 5-50 lbs. newborn to age 5 and one of the best parts about it is that it reclines in the rear facing direction (and forward as well). With this seat you can keep him in the rear facing position and still have the benefits of an infant seat because you can lay him back just like the infant carriers or sit him up, plus you save $ for a toddler seat in a few months. Oh, and of course, obey the law.
I had the Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 seat with my 5 yr old, I really liked that one but I found when he was still an infant at 7 mths his little head always hung forward when he would fall asleep. As you know it seems our little ones at that age always fall asleep when the car starts moving.
I hope this helps you out.
Good Luck!

I say move him to the rear facing 5pt. harness car seat. I had to do that with my son when he was about 5 months old. He was too big for the infant carrier/car seat. Plus, that was hard on my back lugging him and that thing around. I remember how uncomfortable he looked in that little seat. Just my suggestion. :)

My daughter is 11 months and over 20 lbs. I just got her a front facing care seat. I had to. Her legs were getting squished against the back seat when she faced backwards. She is so much happier now that she can move her feet. I don't want to tell you to get a front facing car seat now because I haven't seen your son. Little kids are supposed to face backwards in case of an accident because their necks aren't very strong. I know all kids grow at different speeds. Only you know your kid. You just need to make a judgment call. Do you think he can handle facing forward?

Hi S.,
There is a car seat you can buy that is good for 20-40 lbs. and will transition from rear facing to forward facing. When you go to the store, you can look for those requirements. That is what I use for my daughter. We used it as a rear facingseat until she was about 10 months old, then we turned her around because she was not a happy rider in the car and it got better once we turned her around. The 20 lbs and one yr rule is to prevent little ones from neck injury in case of a rear end collision. You just have to decide what is best for your family.

I had a similar problem. My children were all pretty big when they were born and outgrew their little carrier-type car seats quickly. However, most of the new car seats that are high back with the 5 point harness can be rear facing as well as front facing. Sometimes they can be way more comfortable for a larger baby. I wouldn't suggest turning him around quite yet though. Even though he's big enough, he may still not have good enough head control if you happened to get in an accident.

You don't have to wait until he's a year old to get him into a rear facing convertible carseat! You could put a newborn in one of them, if you wanted to. I use(d) convertible carseats for both of my girls and my 3 3/4 year old is still riding in hers, facing forward of course. I despise those infant carrier seats, they are too heavy! We did have one that attached ot the stroller, and while they may be nice for the first 8 weeks or so while baby sleeps a lot, after that they suck.
Anyway, the rule is 1 year and 20 lbs before you make baby forward facing. Get yourself to Babies R Us stat! Poor guy doesn't want to ride in the goofy newborn seat anymore. He may even be too big for it, literally, as many of them have a 22lb weight limit.

If you feel he's too big for the seat, then switch him. It IS safer to keep them rear-facing for as long as possible, BUT if he's too small for his seat, that can pose a danger, as well. So I'd say if he's that big, go ahead and switch him. Maybe, to ease your fears/worries, call your pediatrician first and run it past him/her.
And you're right, the law is 1 year OR once they've hit the height/weight requirements for their seat. It's not just 1 year, as so many people think. I believe there are rear-facing seats, the convertible ones, that go to larger heights/weights, too, that you could think of. We have a Cosco one from Walmart, I paid $45 for it. My son has the opposite problem....He JUST transitioned to the forward-facing in his convertible seat at 20 months old. He only weighs 19 lbs. and is only 29 inches in height. But he was definitely getting too big in height for his infant seat. So we changed him over.

Hi S.,
I thought the rule was just the 21 lbs. not also a year. Both my children transitioned out of their infant carriers once they hit the guidelines on the carseat they were leaving and going into. This allowed them to get out of the infant carrier after 20 lbs. (about 5 months for my son and 9 months for my daughter). They were only rearfacing in their new seats a couple of months before I could safely turn them around. Hope this helps.

At 8 months I'm sure your little one has perfect head control. That's the biggest concern of keeping them in the infant car seat. But as another mom said, the other concern is when they are too long for the seat...it's time to change. My suggestion is to put your little guy into a convertible car seat. For example, Britax has a Roundabout seat that is convertible. The child can go into it rear facing before they are one. They can be placed in it rear facing as little as 5 pounds, all the way up to 35lbs. Then at one, you forward face it and they can stay in it until 40lbs. Hope this helps.

I have a 7 month old who's also tipping the scales(20lbs already). We have the Graco ComfortSport from Target. It's much less expensive($80) than the Britax but also rated very safe. The down side is it only goes up to 40 lbs[30 lbs rear facing](we have a new booster seat from my step son that we will use when the bubster outgrows the convertible seat so saving the extra $$ was more important to us than a seat that lasted those extra 25 lbs)Don't go without a rear facing seat, the likelihood of getting into an accident may be slim but like most moms I'm sure you would be grief stricken if something happened to your baby and you could have prevented it.The good news is that you son's weight should start to slow a bit, I know mine has(Thank Goodness, I was picturing a 6 foot, 200lb 6 year old!!jk)

I just got the Britex Marathon seat for my 7 month old, it can face backwards until he is one, then I can turn it around~ My daughter who is 2 has the same seat as well, and it is wonderful.

There was one person who was on the right track. It has to do with developmental strength of neck muscles AND that the baby's head is proportionally larger and heavier than the rest of the body.

We had the same issue with car seats and love our Brittax. We had an Evenflo at first, but took it back due to difficulty of use with the fasteners.

My first was a huge baby like this. We put him in a rear facing car seat with 5 point harness at 4 months old, because he was already too long for his infant seat. The rule applies to when you turn the seat to forward facing, not which type of rear facing seat you use. So you can move him to a rear facing seat until he is 1 year old and 22 lbs (they have changed the weight limit), at which point he can go forward facing. Hope this helps (btw you must have awesome biceps from carrying that car seat :)

I would get one of those that are that face backwards and then you can put forwards. They even have ones that do both of those and then transition into boosters. That would be my suggestion. At 8 months no matter how big they are, their neck muscles would not necessarily be strong enough to help their head, if (hopefully never happens) they were to be in an accident.

Just a suggestion

Hi S.,
You need to get a CONVERTIBLE car seat. This is a carseat with a five-point harness that can be used both forward and rear facing. Pumpkin seats are for little guys, and I would bet that if you check the regulations for yours you will find that your baby already exceeds the height requirement. I had two very tall and heavy kids, and for both of them I had to stop using the pumpkin seat at about 8 months. Then I put them in a convertible car seat facing the rear until they were one, at which point I turned the seat around to make it forward-facing. It's time to get rid of that pumpkin seat. Good luck!

The rule is One year and 20 lbs to face forward. You can use a convertible car seat that accommodates an infant to 30 or 35 lbs rear facing. They are safe. i only used a convertible with my daughter, we never had an infant carrier. Just make sure you buy one that will fit in your car and your baby will fit comfortably in it. plus...my daughter SCREAMED the whole time in the car every time in the car until I turned her forward facing at 10 months. I know you aren't supposed too, but she stopped screaming and saved my sanity. Oh, and I can relate to the super chubbieness.....my daughter was 24 lbs at 9 months old.....she is two and still weighs the same though......she is just longer.
Good luck with your transistion.

Always follow the rules!

Have you looked into the carseats that are 5-40lbs. The ones that can be used as rear or front facing? There are also 22-80 or so...that are just front facing. With my children I transitioned to a 5-40, this way we could keep them rear facing longer.

Little about me: I am a sahm of 4; my girls are 5 1/2yr., 4yr., and 2 1/2 months and my son is 22 mo.

The rule is not 1 year old and 20 lbs. to transtion to a rear facing car seat. The rule is that they must be rear-facing until they are at least one and 20lbs. If you look at the instructions with your infant carrier there is a weight and inches limit for that (I remember my Graco was 29 inches). Both my kids outgrew their infant carriers by the inches requirement by the time they were 7 months old. After they reach that size it is no longer safe for them to be in those seats. Then you transition to a rear-facing convertible car seat. Then when they turn one (and are 20 lbs.) you just turn that seat around-thus the word convertible. I use Britax seats for my kids. They are the safest out there-expensive, but obviously totally worth it!

Hi S.,
You can transition Jace into a rear facing convertible car seat. The law is 1 year old and at least 20 lbs for forward facing car seats. If you get the convertible car seat you can face it rear for now and turn it forward facing when he turns one.

Good luck!
J. (mom of 5; ages 16, 13, 7, 5, 3)

With our son we ended up gettig a car seat that could face either way. We kept him facing back until he was 10 months then turned him around. The infant car seats get to small to fast lol. With our daughter it was at 11 months, she was smaller but we couldnt buckle her in with her winter jacket. Good luck

I have 4 children (ages 7, 4, 3, and 3mos) and couldn't continue to carry the pumpkin seat and hold hands like I needed to do when we were at stores etc. so I switched to one of the Alpha Omega type seats. They can be used facing backwards from the time babies are 5 lbs. This has worked fabulously for us!

He definitely sounds like he's ready to move to the next car seat. Both my kids did the same thing, You can do this and still follow the "rules" though safely. I have the eddie bauer car seats that can transition to a booster when they are 4 as well as face backwards before they are a year old. This is a bit expensive, but if you look down the road, it is the last seat you'll buy and it is one of the safest. I think my seat ranges from 5-100 lbs. I have a 4 year old that uses it as her booster and my 2 year old likes it as a forward facing car seat. And best of all--I know that they are safe!

you posted....I know the rule is 1 year old and at least 20 lbs. to transition into a rear facing high back car seat with a 5 point harness...sorry but thats not true, the rule is true for forward facing but not for rear facing.. they can ride in a highback 5 point harness car seat facing the rear from birth and have to remain in that position till they are 1 year old and over 20 pounds before facing them forward...im pretty sure your son is to big for his infant seat since all infant seats i have ever seen only hold them up to 20 pounds with their harness so if your in a wreck he might get injured from his infant seat failing him.they make car seats that hold your child from birth through his toddler years. you can buy one of those and still put your child in the rear facing position till he turns 1 and then turn in in the forward postion till he is 40 pounds and then you will need to use the car seat belt with the shoulder strap and do away with the 5 point harness on the car seat.you can buy a couple of car seats now that use the carseat 5 point harness all the way up to 60 pounds, i think they make one that goes up to 80 pounds.britax make one that goes up to 60 and i have seen some on my local craigslist.org site for $25 to $75 dollars, these run about $275 new. also big lots has some great deals on new seats. but with him already being large and most seats only goung to 40 pounds with their 5 point harness you might want to try to go with the larger weight 5 point harness seat. they also sell them on ebay but they bring high prices even used on their.you can post a wanted add for one of these larger britax seats on you local craigs list and people will email you with what they have for sale.stay safe and good luck!


The 1 yr old AND 20 lbs is for forward facing, not rear facing. My 6 month old has grown out of her infant seat because she is so long (28 inches already!). Look at the specs for your infant seat. There's usually a length and weight limit to them. After that, you need to move your child into the next car seat. Get a convertable car seat with a five-point harness that allows rear facing as well as forward facing and set it up for rear facing until they are 1 yr old AND 20 lbs, then you can switch it to forward facing. there are some seats out there that convert into a booster seat as well so you can get the most "mileage" (excuse the pun) out of your car seat.

As everyone said, the rule applies for forward facing. We got a new carseat from grandma for Christmas, and used it right away. My little girl was 7 months old at the time. We just had it rear facing until she was 1! Just be careful what you buy. Shop around so that you can get your money's worth. Some car seats, although they are expensive and supposed to be "top-notch", are not all they are cracked up to be. For example, we have a Britax (which is supposed to be "top of the line"), but for larger babies, it probably would not be the most comfortable. We also have an Evenflo as our backup, and it was much cheaper and is roomier. Hope this helped!!

I believe the law is 22lbs.and one year of age to have them forward facing. You can always use a convertable carseat in a rear facing position. That's why they say from 5-30lb rear facing limit.

I believe he can be in a rear facing infant toddler seat. The rule is they can't face forward until they are a year and 20 lbs. My son grew out of of his infant car seat around 7 or 8 months. I am fairly sure a high back seat is fine as long as it faces towards the back. It is posted on our doctors wall so I have read it over and over while waiting (haha).


Hi Stephanie,
If my understanding is correct, I believe that the reason they say 1 year is because the average child under a year does not have the proper muscle control to sit in the front facing seat properly. If you get caught even a day before Jace turns a year you could get a ticket. Worse yet, if you were in an accident.....
My youngest son was an "oinker" too. He was he was 20 pounds by 3 months and barely fit in his seat. I had to go buy another one that fit him better. They do have them. Check with your local Community Action Partnership, if you have one. If not, check with the county and they can tell you where to go. They even may be able to send you to where you can get a better fitting one for free. Just PLEASE don't move him up until he is physdically and legally ready.

On a lighter note, my big baby Adam spent his childhood a completely normal size, even a bit slim. He's now 6'4 and 300.

That 1 year old, 21 lb rule is for forward facing seats. you need to keep him turned around until he is at least 1, but you should not be using the infant carrier anymore. The weight limit on most of them at the absolute most is 20 lbs. My son had to come out of his at 15 pounds because the handle was starting to give way. check your bigger carseat, it should be able to be used forward and rear facing.

Hi Stephanie,

I thought with the carrier seats that the rule is 1 year OR 20 lbs. which would mean that whichever comes first is the time to switch. That is the rule I went by at least. My daughter was small and she stayed in the carrier for nearly a year I think, and then I put her in a rear facing seat. My son, however, was 9lbs, 9oz and 22" when he was born and it didn't take him long to outgrow his carrier! He also looked too big in it and I felt that putting him in a rear facing seat would be a lot safer since he obviously didn't fit the carrier anymore. I think as long as the baby can hold their head up well (which at 8 months I'm sure your son can) and he is exceeding the weight limit of the carrier, it would be perfectly safe to switch him to a rear-facing seat.

M. :-)

My son had an extreme aversion to facing backwards in the car, so when he was old enough to hold his head steady, we switched him to a front facing seat. But I was worried about legality, so I called our local Sheriff's office and found out that there isn't an actual LAW that states your child has to be a certain age or weight. We just have been conditioned by the doctors, media, etc. to believe it's a law. They RECOMMEND that because it may be safer. (Hey, if I'm too worried about my screaming son or whether his feet are smooshed against the back seat, to drive safely, I'll do it). He also said that if a policeman were to pull you over for another reason, they have no way of knowing whether your child has reached the requirements. they don't take him out and weigh him. LOL

So I suggest calling the police if you're worried about legality.

WE moved my son to a convertible car seat (still rear facing) when he was about 5 month old due to being too big for the infant carrier seat. He liked having more space, so just do it. We have a Britax Marathon and we love it. N.

Please make the transition now! One of the other "rules" is that they are too big for the infant carseat/carrier if their head or feet extend beyond the carrier.

Hello Stephanie,
AS a loving mom you know that whatever you decide to do will be right, as YOU are the one researching and making the decision for what is best for your children. Regardless of what the law says. So in saying that...I am a 37 year old mother of 2 (Cj is 4 and Jori is 2) CJ was a lot like your youngest, he had outgrown the infant seat by 7 months and I put him in a normal car seat (One that still works for infants but also goes up to 40 pounds) For about the last 2 months he was in his infant seat he was too heavy for me to carry around in his seat, so I would just leave the seat in the base in the car anyway. Well once his legs outgrew the carseat to me it became more of a safety issue as he was over weight for the car seat (the instuctions do say 1 year OR 20 lbs) and I had to think about what would happen if we were in an accident- his legs would be crushed because they hung over the seat between the car seat and the back seat, plus with him being over 20 lbs, would the carseat design still work as his weight may go against the structure, causing it to break and sending him whereever in the car. So I made the decision, as I mentioned, when he was 7 months old to put him in a 5 point harness seat. His neck was definitely strong enough. I went with a particular one at the time, as when I was doing my research and reading comments from parents- this one was highly recommended from a mom, that when she was in a 5 car accident- the only person not injured was her baby!!!

I hope this helps you with your decision. I know I did a lot of research and BOTH of my kids were out of the infant car seat before they were one, and my daughter did not grow nearly as fast as my son, but it was more comfortable for her and being that the seat was designed from 0-40 lbs, I was ok with it.

If you have any additional questions, I would be happy to answer them. remember to trust your instincts- God gave them to you for a reason

Mother of 2 in Ohio

My kids were big also; however, I originally bought a Britax - it was considered the safest and was made a lot bigger and heavier - and they were big enough to accommodate my children. The reason for the law is not only the size of the child but the strength of their necks. That is why they say to wait a year. The Britax I had was able to be used both rear and front-facing. It has been a few years since I had them (my youngest is now 6) but you can look online and find a good one that is bigger and you could use now and also use when your son is over a year.

It is really unsafe to put an 8 month old front facing. It's not the weight that makes the difference, but the developmental stage of the baby's neck that is the reason for the law. In any case, just about any convertible carseat you would choose should have a rear facing option and then you can turn it around when the baby is older. So you don't have to buy an extra carseat or anything. I'm planning on keeping my baby rear facing until he is 32 lbs. That's what they do in Europe and they have much lower rates of infant injury and mortality than we do. My guy is 22lbs 6 oz right now and 9 months, so I'm familiar with the big fellas too!

When a child reaches a length of 26 inches or more, they then move to a "convertible" car seat which is rear-facing. After 1 yr and 20 lbs they can then face the front of the car. (That's why the car seat is called "convertible"... it can face either backwards or forwards.) Consult your pumpkin seat (there should be a sticker on there with max. height/wt. resetictions) or its manual. Ours was 26 inches. My 1st son outgrew his for length when he was only 4 months old. Pumpkin seats, while certainly convenient, are not the only rear-facing car seats. Check into the convertible ones. It will last you til you need to move up til the booster one.

The law as I understand it only forbids turning a child around forward in their seat at 1 year and 20 pounds. You can use a larger carset with the five point restraint facing backwards as long as your child meets the weight requirements for that particular seat. My husband and I have a carseat that is large like that and not one you can detach and carry around that is rated for children as small as 5 pounds! Most likely one of those seats will make your child much more comfortable, and you won't have to cart him around in it!

I think you are mistaken on the rules. Get a seat that is a convertable. The rule is not 1 year for a rear facing high back. You can put a newborn in one. Get a seat that can go forward or backward and goes up to 40 or so pounds. That will last until he is about 4 or so and goes into a booster. Put it backward for now. At 1 put in forward.

Hi S. -

We have a little Jace also! He is only 5 months old (well, 5 mths and 2 days - ha ha) and he is about 22 pounds... and 28 inches tall - so the size of your average 11 month old... We also had to move out of the infant car seat - and we are using a "convertible" seat - that can be a rear-facing or forward facing seat and also converts to a high back booster later (good to 100 pounds). We just have it installed rear-facing and it works great - he has plenty of leg room because in the rear facing position it has to be reclined all the way... and our pediatrician said that the reason they need to face backwards until one year old (ESPECIALLY if they are bigger than usual for their age) is that the next muscles that would take the brunt of a rear impact are not developed enough at under a year to withstand that kind of force without serious damage - and because their heads are even heavier when they are "big boys" - it's a big risk...

Now, it will depend alot i think on what kind of car you drive and how tall you are (if he is sitting behind you) as to the seat you use - for us, we are driving a mini-van and my husband and I are both 6'2", so if we can fit it in rear-facing i figure most people probably can.... Good Luck!

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