Rear Facing Car Seat

Updated on March 22, 2011
C.F. asks from Cloquet, MN
28 answers

I just have a doubt after reading a news article about new suggestions for kids in car seats. I know they say to have your child rear-facing until at least 1 year old and 2 if possible. My son has been facing forward for quite a while, though. He's 10 months old and at his last doc. visit at the beginning of February he was 2.5 feet long. If I were to put him rear-facing his feet would be sitting on the head rest. How are you supposed to keep them rear-facing when they're so long? Are there car seats that sit farther from the seat back of the car?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks for the help, ladies. First off, as far as breaking the law goes...I live in Mexico, there is no seatbelt law here. Nobody (not even infants or children) are required to have a seatbelt or be in a car seat. So, you can imagine how hard it was to even find a car seat. I'm actually moving back home to Minnesota on the 28th and will have to check out their laws to make sure we're not breaking one when we get there.

Featured Answers



answers from Raleigh on

Sunshine Radian it longer so it has more room, but it really does not matter where they put their legs......he will recover from broken legs, from broken neck......that's a different story.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You need to switch him back immediately-mainly for his own safety but also because you are breaking the law. Try a Britax Marathon-I never had a single problem with these. If he is legs scrunch up so be it-better tohave broken legs than a broken neck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm wondering if my daughter will have to be in a rear-facing car seat when she gets her driver's permit next year.....

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

Hell is not a crying toddler, or an inconvenienced front seat passenger. Hell is burying your child.

Watch some crash-test videos of forward-facing infants compared to rear-facing ones, and turn your baby back around.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Oh mama, he's 10 months old, he doesn't stand a chance in a car crash. He's 2.5ft tall, so 28/29" tall? Guess what? There is not a car seat on the market that is ok with your son being forward facing because of his age AND HEIGHT. Meaning if you get into a crash and even if the seat is faulty, and he gets injured its YOUR fault because you couldn't follow the bare minimums of the car seat, of the law, of the recommendation. Most car seats don't allow forward facing until 34" and AT LEAST ONE YEAR OLD.

GOOGLE extended rear facing, Joel's Journey, and internal decapitation. then youtube some crash tests of forward facing vs. rear facing.

My daughter is 37" tall, 30lbs and will be 4yrs old next month. She is still easily able to rear face. my youngest son was 43" tall when he finally went forward facing at 3yrs old, 35lbs.

So yea, your 10mo old is probably cramped in an INFANT seat, but you need to purchase a rear facing convertible car seat like a Firstyears TrueFit, Britax Roundabout50, Evenflo Triumph Advance, Evenflo Symphony, etc. CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT, to keep your child rear facing until at least age 2. The AAP, NHTSA, and every single car seat manufacturer recommend children remain rear facing until they outgrow the rear facing by weight or height.

A rear facing car seat is outgrown when the child has less than 1" of headroom above the head or they go over the weight limit. There is no danger of broken legs in a rear facing child, but the most common forward facing injury is broken legs. The next common is a neck/head/back injuries because of being forward facing too soon. When rear facing the harness must come from just at or below the shoulders.

And even if a broken leg was a risk rear facing... which would you choose? Broken leg or broken neck? I know I'd choose a broken leg, because a broken neck is rarely survived.

Please please please do the research on extended rear facing and please google joel's journey. ANd then please put your son back rear facing for at the very very least, the old bare minimum of 1yr. But please look up the new recommendations, look at the crash test video's, and educate yourself, which in turn will educate others.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

My daughter is in the 95th percentile for height and I *just* turned her foreword facing at *31* months. Yes, 31 months! And I only turned her because she was reaching her weight limit for rear facing in her Britax (33lbs). Now Britax seats will keep them up to 40lbs rear and 70 forward. If I had the newer seat, she'd still be rear-facing! And what does it matter if his feet touch the seat? Nothing when compared to the damage a crash can cause to his little body while he is forward facing. And my daughter used to sit with her feet folded or stretched out. She fit perfectly fine with her very long toddler legs.

I am literally sitting here with my mouth hanging open. Please go right this minute and turn your son's seat right back to rear-facing. Please google internal decapitation and look at Joel's Journey:

If you need more convincing.

It has *nothing* to do with how tall or heavy he is! His little body is in no way shape or form able to handle the forces from a crash while forward facing.

Bottom line Mom-it's your job and responsibility to keep up with the latest and most accurate information to keep your little one safe and you aren't doing that right now. I don't want to sound harsh but I can't imagine putting my little one in a position to sustain so much harm.

And I am frankly shocked that there are any moms out there that would encourage another mom to keep this up or even turn him at a year when the seats are out there to keep our little ones safe and the research is there to tell us how to accomplish that.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Most state laws are 1 year AND 20 pounds, so you may be breaking the law with him being under a year and FF.

I would turn him around and make it fun and see what he does. Buy a soft fabric book that he gets when he's in the car so he has something new to manipulate or play with. I generally keep a small bag of soft toys in the car so my daughter has things to do and I talk to her. "Oh, look, DD, we're passing cows. You'll see them soon!"

My daughter does bend her knees, but she's not uncomfortable or harmed and I'd much rather she maybe break a leg than have internal decapitation. They can fix a leg easier than a spinal injury.

We have Marathons and it depends on the vehicle. In the van, she has a little more leg room, just because of the seat configuration.

If your vehicle doesn't allow for SAFE and proper seat installation, then you need a different seat or another vehicle, or a different placement. Go to your local fire station and get the seat checked.

My DD is in the rear middle in my Saturn SL1 and my husband can drive the car just fine. I'm probably more in danger by being short and having air bags than anything to do with the seat. I realize that people are very emotional, but your child's safety need not be "hell". My child's life is much more important than turning her around for my convenience. If your child is unhappy, find a way to make a ride better. Sometimes it's just the age. I could tell at the daycare when the baby hit the point when he/she just didn't want to be restrained. Period. Nothing to do with FF or RF.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

I've got tall kids too - my 4 month old is 26 inches long. Just make sure that the seat's limits are appropriate. Some infant seats only hold a baby up to 29 inches, so you'll need to go up to a larger seat that rearfaces.

If you search on youtube you'll find some demonstrations of WHY it's so important for babies to stay rearfacing for as long as possible. It's damn scary.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Please turn him around! If his feet are on the headrest... no big deal! He can cross his legs, bend them, tap them... whatever. Just know that most states have an "AND" clause, not an "OR". Meaning... 20lbs AND 1 yr old, not "whichever comes first".

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter was 30 inches at her 12 month check up. She is now 14 months and is sitting rear facing in a Britax Roundabout which fits nicely in my little Jetta.

Her legs cant stretch out straight, but she seems comfortable.

My vote is to turn that baby back rear facing.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Duluth on

I understand I risk total ostracization here, but I'm gonna stick my neck out and say something I've believed about raising kids for a while now. Safety is relative. I have absolutely no doubt that it is safest for your child to be rear facing until 2. Likely, it is safest for him/her to be rear facing for much longer than that. Statistics bear that out. In all likelihood, it is safest for YOU to sit in the back seat, rear facing. Actually, it's safer probably not to drive anywhere, ever. Nor is it safe to bike. My point: life is a series of calculated risks, and we CONSTANTLY make choices regarding which risks are significant enough so as to avoid taking them, and which are worth taking because the payoff, the enjoyment of life, is worth the small risk to us. That level of risk is different for every family. I plan to keep my current baby rear-facing as long as I can, at least to a year, preferably two, but we regularly take 7 and 8 hour drives, and if rear facing makes her scream for 5 of those hours, we may reconsider having her rear facing until she's 2. It may not be as safe, but, to me, neither is ME driving with a screaming toddler for 5 hours. Now--I'm not saying we cave the minute she cries, but I am NOT a safe driver with screaming children, and I cannot turn those drives to visit family into two day affairs just to have a rear facing child. Anyway, that's my 2 cents!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Come on! They don't write those just for fun... they are trying to save your child's life! You are endangering his life and more than likely you are breaking the law.

Please research what would work best in your car, and get help doing it if you need to. You have had some great advice on here so far. Go to a Babies R' Us and they will help you find a car seat that will fit your needs as well.

BTW - the 1 year AND 20lbs requirement is not new. The new recommendations say keep the rear facing as long as they meet the car seats requirements!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

The pro rear-facing crowd will tell you to just let the kids crunch up their legs. Won't hurt them.

Personally, we found rear-facing to be he** in all sorts of ways. It pushed the passenger seat up so far the person in front of the rear-facing seat was smushed into the dashboard. So, baby in back was safe, but average-sized adult in front was super close to the airbag deployment and windshield. My husband couldn't use that seat for a year because he's over 6 ft. and just couldn't fit in the seat with a rear-facing carseat behind him.

Also, our kids HATED being rear-facing and screamed, so I was a totally distracted driver. By the end of year one, our big kids were already having crammed legs, so they were all the more upset. I thank my lucky stars our kids are older now and we missed this new rule. I'm so sorry you're stuck with it ... just know there's an end in sight and hopefully the next year will fly by for you.

ETA: I agree with the others. Ten months is too young to be forward-facing. Rule has always been at least one year old and then matching the weight requirement. I'm all for forward-facing, but following the rules.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

What type of car seat do you have? When my girls were 2.5 feet long, they sat crosslegged when rear facing. It's certainly safer to have kids sit rear facing, but it's not practical for some families. Either way, however, most states require rear facing until a baby is 12 months old... you might want to check your state to ensure you won't get a ticket.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

My DD is the same age and actually a little taller than your son. She is still rear facing, with plenty of room to spare. Do you still have him in a carrier seat? That may be your problem... My DD looked soo cramped in hers that I felt horrible for her! We found a convertible car seat at babies R Us that we were able to put in our yucon to see how it fits. It sits quite a bit farther back from the seat so she can now have her legs straight with about 3 inches of growing room... even then it won't hurt her to bend her legs a bit. It is beyond dangerous to have your son forward facing. I would say to try the babies r us thing, and test out a few seats to find one that would work better for you. Good hunting, and PLEASE turn your son toward the rear again... even if his feet are on the head rest, at least he would survive an accident...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

The daycare I work at is at a Rehabilitation Hospital. Many of the moms not only provide different forms of therapy to children injured in accidents but they have also been trained to install car seats. Their advice is to leave them rear facing until at least 2 years...they are flexible and they will bend their legs and most importantly it's a lot easier to rehabilitate broken legs than a broken spine, neck or worse a dead child. My daughter is 18 months and will be rear facing until at least 2 years....however she probably won't meet the weight requirement either! If keeping my baby safe means keeping her rearfacing then rearfacing she is! And my 12 year old is not allowed to sit in the front seat until the recommended 13 years. She knows this and knows I won't cave.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The person who was on the Today show this morning (you can probably get the clip online) said that parents would say just this -- my child is so long, his legs will be bent, his feet will be on the seat back, he'll be uncomforable, etc. But she emphasized that kid are comfortable with bent legs and the pediatric association's firm recommendation now is staying rear-facing until 2 years old because that position best protects the areas it's most vital to protect in an accident -- the head, neck and torso. The legs may be inconveniently cramped but it's better to protect what really needs protecting than to worry about their legs. Just passing on what was said in that segment about the new recommendations. I'd add that these aren't "suggestions" but strong recommendations from the nation's pediatricians. I'd go with what they say.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

It is strongly recommended that they face backward until age 2 now. I became aware of this trend first overseas but the US stayed at age 1. Just yesterday I saw the article confirming the US's new stance on it: face backweards until age two.

It is an associated press article. I stumbled upon it at:

Facing backwards has to do with preventing/reducing head trauma in crashes. All three of my kids stayed in rear-facing seats until nearly age 2. There are seats that work better with it and the kids will do fine. Test a few and see what works for your vehicle. Kids will adjust, accept and be fine with whatever you make the decision to do. If it is just how it is in the car, they will adjust. Kids do fuss from time to time with car seats and travel - but that is just them being kids.

Good luck.



answers from Duluth on

first of all, why did you turn him forward facing? the recommendations before the new ones were that a child has to be 12 months AND 20 lbs. im sure he was probably 20 lbs but he was most definatly not 12 months. the recommendation was even that its better up to 18 months, but thankfully for the lives of many children its 2 years now...

heres the deal. hes safer rear facing. thats simple fact. turn him back around. invest in a britax seat; they are made for larger/taller children. they are more expensive, but the chances are you could get one that would last you several stages. and besides that, they are really worth it. they are MUCH more comfortable.

as far as any other issues you might have turning him around, just do it. he might not be happy about it, but you can rest easy that he will be more safe. im sorry that its complicated with your son being so tall! but make the switch anyway.



answers from Wausau on

it's OK if their feet are bunched up, they are still safer rear facing than foward facing. In some states it is the LAW that they are rear facing until at elast 1 year old. safety before comfort



answers from Milwaukee on

We kept our daughter rear-facing until she was 2 because it is safer. Super easy decision for us.



answers from Los Angeles on

my daughter got turned around at 10 months for the same reason. we bought her an alpha omega convertable seat and we had to move the straps up to the 3rd setting (the strap was right at the top of her sholder we dont move it to the next one till its atleast an inch under her sholder). my daughter was the size of a 15 month old so it was a must to put her forward. she is now 4 years old still in the same carseat lol... imo do what you feel is best.


answers from Spokane on

You fold their legs crossed. Or you let them stick up. Or bend at the knees. It's MUCH SAFER than turning them around. Sure, they'll be more comfortable, but it's more important for them to be safe. My community is blessed to have 4 nationally liscensed car seat techs and I am equally blessed to know all of them (I have my seats checked every 6 months). They've really pounded this through my head. There is so much more to know about car seats than I would ever have expected. Some carseats work better in certain vehicles. Some models only work with headrests. Some work better with specific types of seats. Etc. Etc. Etc. Their manuals are two inches thick! One of them has a three year old and he still sits backwards. I figure if a licensed tech is doing that, there must be something in it. I kept my 4 yo (she'll be 5 in June) rear facing until she was 3 1/2 and I really should have done it longer because she's such a shrimp.



answers from Minneapolis on

Babies are supposed to be rearfacing till 1 year and 20 pounds, now they are saying 2 years. Leg length is not as important as keeping your child safe in an accident. The risk of internal decapitation is too great to be forward facing. There are many convertible carseats taht you can get for this purpose. 10 months is definitely too soon.



answers from Milwaukee on

I agree with Elisa B! In WI it is law that they stay rear facing unitl 1 year old AND be 20lbs. It was not a recommendation to keep them rear facing with my boys any longer than that so I didn't. We can't live in a bubble, life has risks and it sucks but that is life. I as a mother who leaves in the US have the freedom of choice. My choice may be different than yours or others but it is my choice. I base my choices on what I know to be the facts and risks. I probably still wouldn't keep my next child rear facing much after 1 but I am not there yet. So know the law and follow the law and after that use your great mother's intuition to help decide what choice you want to make!
I guess it is a wonder how anyone of us survived our childhood? No carseats, boosters, bad selt belts, no helmets, pads..........makes you wonder.....



answers from Des Moines on

we have a convertible carseat for our kids. Our daughter, who is tall for her age (3 yo and almost 40 inches tall), was only rear-facing until about 1 yo. Her feet kept hitting the back of the seat when she was rear-facing and then she was kind of scrunched up because there wasn't enough room, and she would fuss a lot from being uncomfortable. We decided to turn her around at 1 yo and she weighed about 20 pounds. we told our doctor about it and he said it was fine because she weighed a decent amount. The convertible carseat sometimes cost more than the regular infant or toddler one, but they last a lot longer - we got ours at Kmart 2.5 years ago for about $50, and it's still in excellent shape. the cover is even removable and machine-washable. we got one for our newborn, but he was a small baby (6lbs 14oz) so even on it's smallest setting, he's a little too small for it (we have a normal infant carseat for him for now. We love our convertible carseats!



answers from Omaha on

I saw a report on this on the news last night. I think it depends on the kids. My first DD was an acrobat. No matter how tight the straps were she would manage to loosen them and twist and wiggle to get what she wanted. We turned her around at 11 mos. because she managed to get a strap wrapped around her neck. That was the last straw for me. The rest of my kids were at least a year and 20 lbs. How would you like to be the one who has to ride for X amount of minutes/hours/etc. with your legs crossed or scrunched? I can't see any adult or older child doing that. Pediatric drs. recommend the 2 years, but other drs. have said to not sit in any position for too long an extended position. You loose circulation in your legs and it can cause dangerous blood clots. So, I guess it's all relative. You have to do what you feel is best for your kids.



answers from Sacramento on

Your son is NOT too long to rear face! Even an infant carrier that comes with a travel system will rear-face to 29.5" and a convertable seat or one designed for bigger babies will go well beyond that.

LOTS and lots of rear facing babies have feet that are longer than the seat... that's normal, and intended. They just bend their knees. Their babies. That's comfortable to them.

Luckily, you haven't been in a situation where the carseat was needed (I mean, he could have been riding on a regular seat as long as there isn't an accident), but he really needs to be rear facing. If he's really too big for the carrier, get a convertible seat and use it rear facing. A forward facing (toddler) seat will NOT protect him well enough in a crash.


For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions