Determining when a baby can face forward in the car is an important milestone for parents. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they turn 2 or have outgrown car seat height and weight limits.1
Understanding the Guidelines for Front-Facing Seats
While 1 year and 20 pounds used to be the standard for when to flip car seats around, most experts now recommend using rear-facing child seats until children are 2 years old and reach the top weight and height recommendations of the car seat manufacturer, which is typically around 30 pounds and 36 inches.
There are some situations in which facing backward may become uncomfortable for a child. For example, long road trips can be difficult if your little one’s legs are cramped up against the back of the seat. In general, though, you shouldn’t let the baby face forward in the car simply because they are uncomfortable or don’t like to be rear facing.
Adding a mirror that allows your child to see themselves (and you) while you are driving can help alleviate stress and boredom.
Safely Switching Your Child’s Seat
If your child is over 20 pounds and more than 1 year old, you may be tempted to temporarily face the seat forward—if your car seat is approved for forward-facing use—on long trips. If this is something that is allowed by your state and the specifications of your car seat, be sure to do so conscientiously.
Make sure you properly install the car seat in the new position, tightening all anchors and straps, including the extra tether if available. You should place the forward-facing seat in the middle of the back seat. This will provide extra protection, as that is the safest spot in the vehicle.
Deciding when your baby can face forward in the car is a big step, and you should do it carefully. To ensure the safest travel experience possible, you should keep your child in the rear-facing seat as long as you can. You want to do everything you can to ensure safe travel for your family. When it is time to switch to a new car seat, check out our Car Seat Buyers Guide to ensure you pick the right one for your child’s needs.