36 answers

When to Switch Car Seats?

My youngest daughter is almot 11 months old and is currently in an infant carrier. She is really small for her age. She isn't even 15 pounds. But she is getting long and her legs are smashed against the seat? Is it too soon to switch her to a front facing seat or would it be ok?

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So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone for your responses. I have moved Haley into a larger seat still rear facing. If she keeps up the same rate of weight gain she won't be able to turn around until she's at least two but safety first.

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I have a daughter who is almost 13 months and 16 pounds. Doctor says to keep her facing rear until at least she reaches 20 pounds, even though her legs are dangling over. It's safer for the child!

I would buy a bigger seat, but keep her rear facing. They make car seats that are rear facing and then when she is big enough can change to forward facing. A biggger seat may give her a little extra leg room. I would say 15 lbs. is still too small to face forward.

Thanks for asking this question! We also have a petite, yet very healthy, full-term girl who is only 16 pounds at a year. Yesterday, at the doc visit, we found her to have added more in inches AGAIN but still little weight! Healthy yet small, what to do, right :)?
We had bought the convertible seat and she seems happier even if she is kicking the seat. Safer for her neck and a few more pounds to go.
Nice to hear from another mom with a lightweight kiddo! Enjoy!

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It is actually Illinois State Law that your child remain rear facing until they are both one year old AND weigh 20lbs. Most convertible carseats (those that can face either forward or back) are made for kids from 5lbs up; the infant carrier isn't something we need for our babies, it just makes life easier! Britax makes FANTASTIC carseats at least 3 of their models are rated for kids 5lbs and up. I'd recommend checking out www.albeebaby.com for them as they tend to have great discounts on older patterns (one of our seats retailed at $270 and I paid $170), no tax and free shipping for everything over $100.

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Hi L.,

I used to work in a pediatric medical office, so I know quite a lot about child safety. You SHOULD NOT face her forward UNTIL she weighs at least 20 pounds and is over the age of 1 year old. While it may start to be uncomfortable, her body is not ready. You can always talk with your doctor though.

1 mom found this helpful

She needs to switch seats as she is probably too tall for the infant carrier. Check her height and your owners manual to make sure. The guide for if she is too big usually has more to do with where her head is hitting the shell of the seat (ears must be at least 1 inch below the seat shell). But she CANNOT and should not face forward yet. The MINIMUM for forward facing is 1 year and 20 lbs, but the new recommendation is to keep them rear facing to the max rear facing limit on your carseat. It is much much much safer this way.

*** Please do not worry about her legs, even if she is tall. Some of the people here say, "my ped said....". It is always more important to protect the spine. They are best protected for the majority of crashes if you keep them rear facing as long as possible. They can bend/cross their legs. There haven't been any documented cases of a child being injured because their legs were touching the seat. And even if legs did get broken, it is relatively minor compared to streching/breaking a spine or neck.

Start looking into some rear facing convertible seats that can be flipped forward facing at the appropriate time.

Some good safe ones that you will get your moneys worth out of and can also rear face: Britax Marathon, First Years True Fit, Evenflo Triumph Advance, or there is a new one on the market I am looking into getting my 14 month old, the Graco My Ride 65. These seats all rear face to 30-40 lbs, then you can flip them once they reach the rear facing limit of the seat, and all these seats also allow you to forward face your older child in a 5 point harness to a higher weight limit (ie not switching the child to a booster seat at 40 lbs cause most kids are not ready for this at that weight and it is safer to keep them in a harness). Some of these seats are pricey, but if you are going to be using them for 6 years or so, you DEFINETLY get your money's worth. Britax is the gold standard, but other seats are just as safe, just may not have as many bells and whistles or may not be as easy to use.

You can visit this website for some wonderful info about carseat safety. Lots of carseat safety techs on there and they are happy to answer any question you may have.

1 mom found this helpful


My son was over 20lbs at 6 months old, so he outgrew his infant seat very quickly. Since the laws in most states (we lived in Massachusetts at the time) require the child to be 20lbs AND 1 year old before forward facing, we purchased a convertible seat that could be rear and forward facing. Since he was also very long, the convertible seat allowed for him to sit rear facing without his legs being cramped. Once he turned one (he was just about 26 lbs), we simply turned the car seat around.

We purchased the Evenflo Triumph. Depending on the color and all the "bells and whistles", it runs from $120 to $180. The seat is very large, so if you have a smaller vehicle, it may not fit. I have a Trailblazer and my husband has a Cobalt. The seat is very difficult to put into the Cobalt, but fits very well in the Trailblazer.

If you're worried about size, Babies R Us will let you see if a seat will fit in your car before purchasing.

Good luck!

The Illinois State Law is 1year of age and 20 pounds. They have to be both. I love the convertible car seats that go from newborn to 80 or 100 pounds as a booster. Hope this helps.

Your car seat should say somewhere what heights and weights are allowed for its type, either in the manual or simply printed on the side of the seat. I think its about 28 or 29 inches but dont quote me.

A baby needs to be a certain weight and height to be turned forward, not just turning 1. Its not the law, but its both the Academy of Pediatrics and the car seat manufacturers recommendation.

What kind of seat will you put her in? Nearly every forward facing seat on the market is also designed to face backward. They are called convertible car seats and can be used from newborns until they are ready for just a booster seat. The main reason for an infant seat is that it pops out of the base, a convenience. Both my girls were very tall- the first had to be switched out of her infant seat at 4mos, the second at 6mos.

Hi L.!

Check your carrier for the height and weight limits. We had to switch our twin boys when they were six months old because they were too long. They are now 7 months old and still in a rear-facing car seat, but it's one that will eventually turn into a booster.


you can switch her to the larger seat but it needs to remain rear facing until she's a year old. in her situation since shes so small i'd ask the ped. when to have the seat face forward. they are safer facing the rear b/c of the muscles in their neck are not strong enough in an accident. good luck.

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