Rear Facing Car Seat Age and Laws - - Probably Opening a Can of Worms

Updated on February 08, 2012
J.S. asks from Denton, TX
22 answers

Ok so here is my issue. My best friend has a 7 month old son, and they just recently purchased a Learning Curve True Fit Car Seat for him as he is getting to big for his infant carrier. My concern is they have him forward facing in this car seat. I absolutely cringe everytime I see him in it. I have asked her in a round about way if she needs help installing the seat as we have the same one for our youngest (he is 2 1/2 (forward facing as of 13 months old) now but has been in the seat since 6 months (rear facing of course)). I know I shouldnt worry about this as he isn't my child but it scares the living day lights out of me.

Anyone else know someone like this?
How can I help, what can I do?

I fear a car accident everytime I see him in that car seat.

Added: I know the rule of thumb is 1 year or 20 lbs which ever comes last.

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?

You ladies are amazing. I have for now found an article and posted it to my FB and I added a comment about I have read this several times but wanted to post it for all of the new parents out there. I urged them to please leave their children rear facing until at least 1 year old no matter their weight. Thank you again for giving me the ideas and courage. I will see what this does and see if she comments and them I will text or talk to her about it. I hate confuntation but I hate unsafe children more. Keep them coming ladies.

Big babies or not a broken leg is tons better than a dead child. It has nothing to do with their length and everything to do with there ability to control their necks and bodies. Sorry but your Dr. doesnt make the rules.

Featured Answers



answers from Boston on

I would just ask if she knows that he still needs to be rear facing and see what she says and then go from there. If she knows but still insists on doing things her own way then let it go but if she doesn't then let her know age and weight requirements. I wouldn't normally say you should but into someone else's business but I would at least say something here.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You are right, it is illegal and child endangerment. The parents can be detained for this if stopped by a cop. I applaud you for caring so much about this child to attempt to make his life safer!!!

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

I would tell her 1. You are breaking the law. 2. You are endangering your child. I knew someone whose mother could not wait to turn the grandbaby around, like it was an inconvenience to her that the 9 mo. old needed to be RF.

I think you did the right thing by posting it and if it comes up tell her straight up that you worry about her son and you know she loves him and would never want to put him in harm's way, but that's what she's doing right now.

My DD is 3.5 and RF. She's fine and just crosses her legs or hangs them over the side. A 1 yr old can fit just fine RF. There's no reason to FF him. If they took the seat to an inspection station, they'd be told the same thing.

There are many types of seats. You can find the right one for your child and your car and still be legal and safe. I am appalled that anyone was told to turn a 6 mo. old around. It's not just legs. It's the way the head and neck move in an accident and how an infant can't control it like an older child.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Eh, I have a 23-year-old and a 14-year-old -- and both were forward facing in their car seats by 6 months. They survived. I know it's safer, and would obey the laws now and keep them rear facing. But there are bigger dangers to children, in my opinion, and if I were you I'd just mind my own business. Ten or 20 years from now you will look back and see that the laws have changed on something you did that was unsafe. Weird how that works out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Hi J. ~ The new carseat guidelines are rear facing until 2 yrs old.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Here's another link for you from Seattle Mama Doc, my favorite site for children's health issues. And not every parent knows this, so posting on your FB site seems like a great idea.

And my little one is 95th percentile in height. We kept her rear-facing until she was 2 yo. (The rules changed between our first and second, and our first was rear-facing until around 14 months old.) Were her legs a little scrunched? yes. Did she survive? yes. She has a big head, so the potential for the internal decapitation in an accident was high (and the resulting motivation to keep her rear-facing was high).

As your SWH states, it's better to have a broken leg than be dead or permanently incapacitated.

ETA: When they outgrow the infant seats (maybe around 7-9 months), put them in convertible car seats that can be installed rear or forward facing. Most car seats do this. The True Fit car seat is a convertible seat.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Rear facing til age 2~ I would really have a heart to heart with her--No matter how uncomfortable, if she is a true friend, she will understand where you are coming from. What if something happens to her child and you never said anything??? Wouldn't it be better to hurt her feelings or offend her temporarily vs. the unimaginable?? I would call her up and say this has been on my heart and mind and I need to tell you how I feel about X. What you do with the info I am going to give you, is up to you. But I am concerned for your child X. Hope this helps!


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

i'd mention that you "know someone" that was ticketed recently for that... kinda sounds like you're trying to help without being a pushy busy body! or, is she a facebook friend? post a link on your wall about rearfacing safety and say something on the post like "wow, i knew it was the law, but i didn't realize just how important it was!"... that's a hard one to tackle head on, and unless she's a complete idiot, she KNOWS the law - that kinda stuff drives me crazy, but it's so difficult to know how to approach it, good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

How frightening! Yes, you should be worried!
I would also ask if she understands why the rule is what it is.
And then I would make her watch (in my presence) the video from here (scroll down):
Be strong! You're doing the right thing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would also find a carseat clinic, they usually have free ones all the time to check the car seats are in correctly. They would tell them to switch it around and tell them why. Most of the clinics in my area are done by the police department or the fire department. They can tell in graphic detail why facing forward is a bad idea.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If it were me I'd say something to my friend. If she doesn't listen, there's nothing else you can do, but you'll never forgive yourself if something happens and you never told her it was wrong.

Just because a baby is too big for an infant seat DOESN'T mean they are big/old enough to forward face. Booster seats are about size... rear facing is about ability to withstand "whiplash." That is WHY there are convertible seats... ie big enough for forward facing kids, but can be installed rear facing.

I'm really hoping that is what pp's pediatrician was suggesting and she misunderstood. A doctor should absolutely KNOW that a seven month old's spine cannot withstand the impact of a serious accident forward facing.

Obviously you most children who turn to early will be fine because they will never be in a serious ACCIDENT. Unfortunately you can't know that until it's too late... that's why they call them "accidents."


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I have big, tall babies. If I left them in a rear facing car seats until age one, they would have broken their legs in a car accident!! I actually took each of them to the pediatrician in their infant seats, and when she felt they were fully outgrowing the safe height/weight of the seat, she advised me to put them in "big baby" front facing seats. They were both around 7 months.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on


Length = a broken SPINE... not broken legs.

The laws up here are rather strict. I had to turn my son FF at apx 6 months (and got reamed by the seat safety inspector for not doing it sooner). The fire department pinned a 'common sense exemption' note to my son's carseat (in case we were ever stopped).

Your friend may have a small or average sized child... and just be ignorant. BUT if she has a big baby, what's safest for her child may not be what's safest for the masses of small children. SIMILARLY... if she has a 2 seater car or truck or jeep... the safest thing from newborn onward is FF. It's an airbag issue. In the event of a crash a deploying airbag will decapitate a rear facing child in a carseat. If they're not high enough up (most are) a FF seat the child may be blinded from the blast of hot air that happens when bags deploy (that's why some parents put goggles on FF kids), but at least it won't decapitate them.

The exemptions exist for a series of VERY good reasons. Before you go off on her, you may well want to check that you're not recommending something very very dangerous.


As per a thoughtful PM sent my way... I just want to highlight that forward facing young being the safest option is the EXCEPTION, not the rule. Most better carseats these days can accommodate children up to 4'-5' tall. But for poor people (or those who have gotten their seats donated through women's shelters, fosterkid programs, etc.), or who just simply didn't know to buy the expensive big seats... modern sizing simply isn't "there" in low end car seats. So the same rules apply (NO SHOULDERS ABOVE STRAP HOLES!!! NO HEAD ABOVE THE TOP OF THE SEAT!!!), but the height and age at which those things happen decrease dramatically. The standard sizing from 10 years ago meant many children ages 6mo-1year outgrew rearfacing infant seats on a regular basis. The low end seats on the market that use the same sizing from 10 years ago have the same set of problems. If a family simple doesn't have the money to buy a seat with modern sizing (or they only have a 2 seat vehicle)... the rule of thumb changes. Meaning the most important thing is that the seats are used safely, or they cause more harm than protection.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I think it is crazy when people do that, but, I was in an accident with my son when he was 10 months old, it totaled the car but he was fine. He went into a rear facing convertible car seat after that and had a lot of space (he was about to grow out of the infant seat and needed a new one from the damage to the seat). I kept my son in his rear facing seat until he was 2 years old. He is pretty tall, and was a little scrunched up for the last few months, but definitely safer. He actually asked to be turned around, partially for space, and he wanted to see more, so we did it then. This was before the new recommendations, but a lot of people were already advocating 2 years rear facing, and I agreed.

It is safer for a child to be rear facing, but you can't tell that to some people. All you can do is mention it and/or ask them if they need help as you did, and hope that they don't have an accident. My neighbor turned her daughter forward at about 10 months, and I even mentioned my accident to her, but she said that her daughter was too hot rear facing, because the AC wasn't directly on her. Maybe it is the lack of sleep that makes people unable to think clearly?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have a friend who has her 3 year old already in a booster. She says he is just too tall for the 5 point harness. I don't even think he is 40 pounds yet. It makes me sick, but she won't listen to me. I have talked to her many times about it but beyond that, I can't really do anything about it. I just switched my son to a booster (the convertable seat so it has the car seat frame still) and he will be 5 in July. He is 40 pounds now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It's truly amazing how many ill-informed "opinions" and "ideas" are out there about car seat safety!
The best thing for her to do is to take her vehicle(s), her seat(s), and her child(ren) to a local, FREE, inspection site where a TRAINED professional can direct her about proper safety seat usage.
A 30 minute appointment could save a life.
Sadly, all too many parents *think* they know best.
How you would get her to do that? Not sure. Maybe YOU could make appointments and go together?

Right now, for TX (if that's where you are): Infants: Birth - 35 pounds. Rear-facing infant or rear-facing convertible safety seat as long as possible,up to the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat. Properly install rear-facing in the back seat. But NEVER forward-facing before their first birthday AND 20-22 pounds.

Do you think this could actually qualify as neglect? I mean, if she KNOWS the laws and chooses to ignore them? So sad.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Actually, the new rule of thumb is rear facing until AT LEAST 2 yrs old. Shocking, yes, but that's what the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

I second Tracy's suggestion of mentioning getting a ticket. That's a great way to introduce the topic in a very serious but non-threatening manner.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

In my sons case, there is no way to keep him rear facing. He is 15 months old, and at 13, he legs were so long, his knees were buckling up, and causing him discomfort all the time. I tried adjusting, I even went to the Fire station on the block to have them give me tips. They re-adjusted again. This time, my son kicked and pushed SO hard during the car trip, he tipped the seat to the side and hit his head on the sliding door. So for me, my child can not be rear, I guess I get a ticket it if happens. I do feel confident he will be at least moderately safe in case of an accident.

I do not think I qualify as a neglectful parent, but one that has done what I can to make my child safe.

One: I know the law. I know its safer, I know its suppose to be handled. I even had a professional re-adjust it. My son does not fit the criteria... he is 98% height for his age. He is taller than a two year old. I called and asked if there was a permit or any thing I can carry in-case of a stop, nope. I asked if there are custom car seats for this. Actually no one makes car seats for overly tall. He is in one of those seats made for 5 year olds. He isnt fat just really really tall.

Maybe people here, have not seen what tall kids go through being rear facing???? so a fender bender is equal to two broken knees, ankles, and legs because I have to follow a law fit for normal sized kids? Anyway, if her 7 month old is of normal size, tell this friend dont let it go. She should be rear facing. My girls were both rear facing till 17 months and that was years ago.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Our 14 month old is still rear facing......he outgrew his infant car seat so we got one of the bigger ones and it has the option to be rear or front facing but since his legs barely touch the seat back when rear facing we decided to keep it that way for safety reasons......we are planning a roadtrip (3-4 hours) next month so we may make his seat forward facing at that time so he can get a better view and be more comfortable by dangling his legs....
Depending on how close you are to this friend you could gently ask if she knows she could get a ticket and maybe she doesn;t know the new recommendation on keeping infants and toddlers rear facing for as long as possible....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I always try to pass along facts like this in a very nonchalant way so the parents don't get offended. Bring it up in casual conversation. "Oh my goodness Bridget, did you know that we're supposed to leave our kids rear facing past the age of 1 now? Had you ever heard of that?"


answers from Dallas on

I would casually ask - arent you afraid you're going to get a ticket?

My kids were so long and tall that I had to turn them around. The size of the kid has to come in to play and there has to be room for logic. I can't really picture either of my 2 1/2 yr olds rear facing. They'd be folded up like pretzels.



answers from Washington DC on

The rule is 20lbs AND 1 year. I cringe too. You are right, i can see maybe at 11 months if they are out growing it but NOT at 7 months. And even if they are long...we would rather have a broken leg than a broken neck! My DD is still rear facing at 19 months (she is on the small size). If you are close I would ask her the reason WHY they have him forward facing already.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions