20 Lbs or 33 for Front Facing?

Updated on February 14, 2008
L.H. asks from Washington, MI
14 answers

Ug. I'm finally ready to put my son in a front-facer when I hear that a new pool of people, including safety "experts" (are they funded by product manufacturers?) are now saying the better weight is 33 lbs. The doctor says one year and 20 lbs; the one year because by that time they have the neck strength in case of an accident AND have the brain development to tell their necks what to do in an accident. My son is so incredibly strong and smart I really have no concerns. But now we don't know if we should buy a convertible or go right to a booster (we're just now upgrading from the infant seat). Advice?

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So What Happened?

Well, while some family members are rolling their eyes, we went with the Britax Decathlon and he's still facing rear. My husband doesn't totally think he needs to be, but respects the research I put into the decision. Thanks everyone!

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answers from Detroit on

Get a convertible that can go rear and forward facing. Continue to have him sit rear-facing for a while. I don't know the details, but I have heard that rear-facing is much safer. Other than safety, who cares which direction he faces???

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answers from Detroit on

Safety experts aren't funded by manufacturers LOL. It'd be nice though. Almost all of car seat technicians volunteer their services because they care about child safety. I'm sorry to say, most doctors know almost nothing about car seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your child rear facing until they hit the reach the weight limits on their seat (30-35 lbs) or their head is even with the top of the car seat. So if your DR is recommending that you switch to forward facing at only a year old then he needs to update his info. Their legs touching the back seat is NOT a safety concern. There have been no cases of legs breaking in an accident because a child was rear facing. But there are plenty of cases where children have their necks broken because they were forward facing too early. Someone already posted a video link but I'll do it again. It shows crash test video and explains why it's so much safer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2DVfqFhseo . Most car seat techs think the minimum for forward facing should be 2 years and 30 lbs. A one year old's vertebrae aren't fused together, which allows the spinal cord to stretch. When you are in an accident you can't control the way your body moves. Anyone who has had a bad case of whiplash can tell you that they didn't have any control or time to react. Frankly, it concerns me that your pediatrician would tell you something like that.
Kids aren't ready for boosters until they are about 5 years old and 40 lbs. Your son REALLY needs to be in a convertible seat (one that goes rearfacing and forward facing). Please don't put him in a booster. If you still feel strongly about him facing forward he at least needs to be in a 5 pt harness . Make sure to use the top tether. An inexpensive convertible seat is the Cosco Scenera. It's $40 at Walmart, and a nicer version is $50 at Kmart. I've heard Target has put their $40 version on clearance for $27. They're switching to a better padded one for $50. Really any convertible seat is fine at this age. Just don't get one that has the bar in front. In an accident their faces get thrown into it (ouch). Everyone seems to like the 3in1 seats (Alpha Omega, Eddie Bauer, etc) BUT you could get much better seats for your money. I have one and I'm so sorry I bought it. The harness part only goes up to 40 lbs, even though they say 100 lbs. They mean you can use it as a booster for 40-100 lbs. I just bought my first Britax Marathon seat and I'm in love. It will last my kids for a very long time. It's very easy to install. Someone also mentioned the Fisher Price Safe Voyage Deluxe. That's much cheaper and it will last you as long as a Britax will. A brand new seat called the Evenflo Triumph ADVANCE will also last you a very long time (make sure to get the Advance version). I figure I'll be using these car seats for about 5 years so over time the big cost is worth it (pennies a day). If you go to car-seat.org you can ask questions and car seat technicians will answer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Saginaw on

First of all, congratulations!

If you're just now taking him out of the infant seat, then he is NOT ready for a booster, neither by age or weight. That is for older children who surpass the limits of a child seat. You're next step from the infant carrier is a baby/toddler safety seat in the rear facing position. Then you'll progress to turning it forward facing, then on to the booster. There are many options out there depending on your needs and budget. We opted for the Safety First Intera because it is a convertible seat and fits from the rear facing baby/toddler stage until he no longer needs a safety seat. It serves as a rear facing baby seat, a forward facing toddler seat, a belt positioning booster, and then just a regular booster. The weight limit is 100 lbs. (We'll actually be buying another for our newest addition soon!)

Anyhow, the longer you can keep them rear facing, the safer they are. You can keep them rear facing until their height prevents it (ie-their legs are too long to sit comfortably or safely). So, even if they're at the age and weight to be acceptably turned forward, if their height allows them to sit comfortably and safely in the rear facing position, keep them there.

Best of luck to you and congratulations again!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I have read that as long as the child is over 20lbs and over 12months then they can be in a forward facing car seat. I wouldn't keep him in a rear facing car seat too much past a year old. I hate to say it but if you have an infant seat, it tends to be difficult to get him in and out of the seat, when the seat stays in the car. I would suggest you look for a seat that fits him now and until he is old enough to not have to use a car seat anymore. There are car seats out there that the weight range is from 0-100lbs or 20-100lbs. We have a cosco summit which will hold our son until he is 100lbs. But the car seat is big and bulky (so something to consider). We also have another seat that is smaller but the weight limit is only 40lbs, so we will have to buy him a booster when he grows out of that. I hope that helps! Good luck car seat shopping, there are so many to chose from!



answers from Detroit on

We kept our boys rear facing until their legs were long enough to go over the seat. Then we bought Recaro convertable car seats. They are kinda pricey but they offer great side impact protection and seamed way more confertable then the other options. (Recaro started off making racing harnesses and seats for formula race cars)



answers from Detroit on

Hello. I totally understand your concern!! My son will be 1 Aug 6th. If at his check up, the doctor say I can switch to a forward facing, then I will. THey have all kinds of RECOMENDATIONS about when to switch your child to the next carseat. I know they are just looking out for our childrens safety, but look at the signs we see that say a child should remain in a booster seat until they are 4'9"!!!! I am only 5 feet tall, I can't imagine my mom makiing me go to high school in a booster seat!!!!! I say do what your doctor says, and follow how you feel. You and your doctor know your child better than the people that make the recomendations!!!



answers from Detroit on

I got the information from my pediatrician on what seat is best and I didn't have any problem putting my son into a front facing child seat, though not a booster. The difference that I've found is in the harness. My doctor said you need a 5 point harness and an angled seat. The boosters are straight backed and only have a shoulder strap and lap belt. Also my son was already touching the back of the seat with the rear facing and that isn't safe in an accident since the seat would crush his feet and legs. Sorry if this is still confusing. But always trust yourself.



answers from Benton Harbor on

Im sorry, I don't know who gave you the advice that after a year babies have the brain development to tell their necks what to do in an accident. That was not very accurate b/c adults can't even do that! lol That's why we get whiplash and severe neck injuries during accidents. Your answer probably depends more upon what type of seat you buy and the mfg of that seat may have recommendations regarding their product. Do your research; if you get advice, ask them to cite their source. Follow up on the internet and search for the actual studies. Go to Consumer Reports and compare the seats. Most of all, you know your baby and what they are ready for. Try to get the most bang for your buck, stick with the seats that convert into a booster later. My personal opinion is that you want the seat that offers the most restraint for your baby. Many are good up to 100lbs and by then they will be seatbelt ready.
Good luck, you'll pick the right one!



answers from Saginaw on

I'd go with a convertible carseat, not a booster. Your son is definitely not big enough for a booster if he still fits in an infant carseat. Boosters are for kids that aren't big enough for a seat belt to fit properly. They don't have the proper positioning in case of an accident that a carseat has for a toddler. If you're worried about spending money on a bunch of different seats, it's not that bad. The weight/height limits on the carseats are getting higher, and now there are ones that convert to boosters too. I moved my daughter from her infant seat to the one we have now when she was 7 or 8 months old. Two years later, she's still in it and I know it will be quite some time before I have to worry about moving up to a booster. Don't be overwhelmed by all the recommendations, they look at what is absolutely safest, not what is practical.



answers from Detroit on


Peds will recommend 20 lbs AND 1 year of age as a standard. It's a MINIMUM however.

The reason is NOT their muscle stregnth, but their BONE stregnth. It takes AT LEAST a year for the bones to calisfy enough to have a better chance of resisting impact.

Here is a site which will show why it's important to rear-face

So what is recommended by the car seat manufacturers as well as nhtsa.com (National Highway Traffic Safty Administration) and others is to leave your child rear facing as up to the weight and height your seat will allow.

I recommend Britax depending on which one you use it'll go up to 65+ lbs forward facing and 35 rear facing. I can't afford a Britax, so I use the fisher price safe-voyage delux (which is still manufactured by Britax with a smaller price tag.

I do recommend convertibles. (change from rear facing to forward facing) but not ones that change from a 5pt car seat to a booster. I prefer european brands over american but do like graco too. The only 2 I don't perfer are Cosco (sometimes masked as Eddie Bauer who makes the cloth over the seat, and not the seat) and Evenflo. The reason I don't like those two is that even though the seats are great the company's have a reputation for having recall's on pretty important parts, that would effect safety of the seat.

Which is why it's VERY important with all seats to send in the registration card with your correct address. This is the only way the manufacturer can contact you in the event there is a recall. Otherwise you can end up having a recalled seat and not even know!

I know this is a lot of information, but it's important so I never leave car seat questions unanswered. It's so important to our children's lifes!

I commend you on looking into the subject before turning your son's seat!!



answers from Kalamazoo on

First of all they must be at least one year old. Second is the weight criteria just in case they are small for their age. My kids were 20 lbs by 8mo and I waited until 1yr to put them front facing



answers from Detroit on

I would get what they call a convertable car seat. I have the Alpha Omega Elite and it goes from 5lbs to 100lbs. It is for infants all the way up. My daughter has the orginal Alpha Omega and it is in the booster position right now. I would not just go with a booster. I would do the convertable car seat. Good luck on your decision!



answers from Saginaw on

I havn't heard of any changes in car seat that deals with the neck. I have a 14 month old son and i switched him over at a year old. I also bought the casco high back 5 point harness booster seat for him. They do make booster seats that have the 5 point and when they grow out of that it u use it as a booster seat just like the cosco high back does. I have used this type carseat for all 3 of my childern now. Infact i work in retail and one day .... i was helping a customer with picking a carseat. They asked my opinion and just by chance when i was tellin them about the cosco high back a state trooper in regular clothing over heard our convo. He told us that he has seen many accidents where different carseats were involved and he would have to say the coscos worked very well. He said alot of kids break their arms on certain carseats like the ones that have the shields on the front that come down over the childs head. I hope this info helps and good luck. I also know that with working in retail alot of the carseats that go on recalls are usually infant carseats (the carriers) If a store got a recall sent to them... the carseats get pulled right off the shelf the second they receive it. which is usually the same day the company recalls them. I mean the stores want their credits back and they only have a certain amount of time to send them back. So they pull them as fast as they can.



answers from Saginaw on

Well, the point is safety, right?

The longer they can safely face backwards, the safer they are in a *front-end* crash. Happy news if you get to pick the kind of crash involved...

The 20 pounds marker was for 'about a year old' and it was more based on height than weight. As soon as the child's ears are at the top of the seat, it's time for a bigger one. With babies getting fatter at younger and younger ages, sometimes the bucket seats aren't made strong enough for their heavy, though still short, bodies. Write the manufacturer to find out what they recommend doing in that circumstance.

Whoever first suggested that a child's brain (or a human brain, frankly) would 'know what to do with the body in an accident' was delusional. People can flail out their arms (no help at all) and sometimes have time to cover their faces, but what happens to their head, neck and spine is physics, pure and simple. We'd have to be in cars for another 30,000 years to make much difference to our instinctive response to the forces at work in a crash.

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