When Can I Turn My Baby Around to Face Forward in the Car?

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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 have outgrown car seat height and weight limits of the seat.1

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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 outgrow the top weight and height recommendations of the car seat manufacturer. This means your child may be rear-facing until well beyond their second birthday.

There are some situations in which facing backward may seem uncomfortable for a child—like long road trips where it seems like the little one’s legs are cramped up against the back of the seat. You shouldn’t let the baby face forward in the car simply because they seem uncomfortable or don’t like to be rear facing.

Tots are generally very flexible and even when they seem cramped up by adult standards, they can actually be quite comfortable.

Adding a mirror that allows your child to see themselves (and you) while you are driving can help alleviate stress and boredom. And taking breaks during long trips can give your little one time to stretch their legs.

Safely switching your child’s seat

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Once you make the switch, be 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.

When you're done, head to your local fire or police station. Often, there will be someone on duty trained to check the safety of car seat installation. You can also use the National Highway and Traffic Administration's car seat inspection site locator to find installation help in your area.

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Related articles on SafeWise

Sources

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, “Car Seats: Information for Families," December 22, 2021. Accessed June 14, 2022.

Disclaimer

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Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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