Let's take a moment to discuss rear facing car seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants and toddlers remain rear facing in the vehicle until they reach the maximum rear facing limits of the child safety seat they are using. To be clear, rear facing car seats may be a rear facing only infant seat, a convertible or a 3-in-one. Infants tend to outgrow their rear facing only infant seat at 1 year or shortly following depending on the size of the child. Just because the infant seat has been outgrown does not mean rear facing is also outgrown. You can still continue rear facing with use of a convertible or 3-in-one child safety seat. Many convertible seats available on the Canadian market can accommodate a child of 40lbs, 45lbs or even 50lbs rear facing depending on the seat you choose. This could help your child remain rear facing for a significant time.
What is the big deal? Why rear face as long as possible?
Should there be a collision a rear facing car seat will do the work to manage the crash forces to protect the child, whereas when forward facing the child's body is managing the bulk of the those forces. This is not to say that a forward facing child is not protected in a crash, but rear facing saves them extra risks of severe injury if their body has not quite developed enough to absorb impact - specifically their neck, spine and the muscles surrounding those areas.
The Leg Myth...
Often the question is asked about the child's legs when rear facing with there being less room for them as they grow taller. There are no documented cases of legs being injured because the child was rear facing "too long." In reality, rear facing car seats sit at a 45 degree angle to the ground which gives them a nice recline to be able to curl their legs in, hang them over the car seat or stretch them up the back of the vehicle seat. Once forward facing they sit completely upright at 90 degrees which leave their legs dangling and you may hear complaints of soreness or of them being numb.
Carry on rear facing as long as possible! Always remember we are here to answer questions or provide assistance if you need.