I’m a big supporter of extended rear-facing. Charlie just turned 3 and he is still rear-facing. He is about 39 inches tall and weighs about 34 lbs.
The car seat we have for Charlie is the Graco My Ride 65. We have 2 of them, one for Mommy’s car (a Dodge Journey) and one for Daddy’s car (a Ford Focus). We love them because Charlie has plenty of room and padding, plus he has two cup holders (snacks, small toys, cup, etc). Our favorite thing about this car seat is that Charlie can rear-face until he is 40 lbs. When he reaches that point, we’ll flip him around to forward-facing, where this car seat can accommodate up to 65 lbs.
In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a new policy statement that children should rear-face until 2 years of age.
1. They’ll Break Their Legs
Even if this were true, I’d much rather have broken legs than a broken neck or back. I’ve heard this saying many times: “Broken leg, cast it. Broken neck, casket”. The thing is though, it’s really not any more true for rear-facing kids than it is if they are forward facing. In 2007, Crash Test data found that the rate of lower extremity injuries in rear-facing children was 1 per 1000 children and the rates for forward facing kids are within similar ranges.
2. They’re Not Comfortable
This is something I can’t even wrap my head around. I’m currently sitting in my living room chair with my feet propped up on the ottoman. Our children like to sit the same way- with their feet up. Who really likes their feet to dangle anyway? I can’t imagine going for a long ride and having my feet just hang there with nothing to rest on (and no, I don’t want them on the back of the seat while I’m driving). Charlie seems rather comfortable riding rear-facing, even with his legs extended way beyond the car seat.
These were all taken after Charlie turned 2, with the most recent being in December.
3. They Like Facing Forward Better
If you don’t turn them around, they won’t know any different. My mother has said multiple times something along the lines of “Poor Charlie, can’t see anything”. This kid sees everything. We’ll turn out of the neighborhood and he knows where we’re going, he sees things and asks us questions the entire time about everything he sees.
If your toddler is screaming in the car, it’s not necessarily because they’re rear-facing. Thinking of all the things Charlie has screamed about lately: I gave him the fish cup and he wanted the orange cup, I gave him the orange cup, he wanted strawberries, I gave him strawberries, it’s raining, his brother is crying, his brother is laughing, he got in trouble for picking his nose, he’s hungry, but most often: it’s because he’s 3 and his mood changes constantly.
4. Extended Rear-facing car seats are too expensive
The Graco My Ride 65 car seats that we have were bought on sale for right around $100. If you are planning to switch your child to forward facing, you need to purchase a new car seat anyway. You might as well get a convertible that allows for both. A very affordable option is the Cosco Scenera, they’ll run you around $60. These allow you to rear-face up to 40 lbs and forward face up to 40 lbs. Finding a seat within your budget should definitely be doable. You need a car seat for your child to ride in no matter what.
5. My kid is too big
Just about every convertible car seat (including the inexpensive ones: see #4) can accommodate bigger toddlers rear-facing until at least the age of 2. One of the main reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended the minimum age of rear-facing to be 2 is that 95% of 24 month olds weigh 35 lbs or less. So even though your toddler is in the 90th percentile for weight, he’ll more than likely fit in a convertible seat that remains rear-facing.
Here’s a video that was made in 2007 (even before the AAP changed their recommendation to 2 years).
I’m not a car seat expert, but I have done my research. Charlie will outgrow his current seat in the rear-facing capacity soon, so he will be switched to forward face in the near future. However, because we invested in a convertible seat, we will not need to purchase another seat anytime soon. His Graco My Ride will forward face until he is 65 lbs. Whichever car seat you choose to use, please follow the car seat’s guidelines.
I know that the old-school way of doing things is hard to break, but I love the saying, “Know better, do better”! We know what a difference rear-facing can make if ever in an accident, so we can do better for our children now.