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

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

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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 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

Best extended rear-facing
Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage
Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage
$293.38
Pro Bullet Usage up to age 10
Pro Bullet Washable lining

*Amazon.com price as of 08/20/2021 at 9:30 a.m. (MT). See full disclaimer.

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.

Compare the best car seats

Car seat
Price
Type
Head injury criteriaIcon Tooltip  Dark
Chest accelerationIcon Tooltip  Dark
Anti-rebound device
Learn more

Best overall

CYBEX car seatCybex Aton 2
Infant340 44 g-units Load leg

Best convertible car seat

Britax Boulevard Clicktight ARB
Convertible28951 g-unitsAnti-rebound bar

Budget safety pick

Chicco Keyfit 30
Infant330 51 g-unitsNone

Best 4-in-1 car seat

Graco 4Ever DLX
4-in-136443 g-unitsPremier model only

Best extended rear-facing

Evenflo Gold SensorSafe EveryStage
4-in-1Not specifiedNot specifiedNone

Anti-rebound pick

Primo Viaggio Nido
Infant430 51 g-unitsLoad leg
Anti-rebound bar

Easiest to clean

Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air+
Infant39853 g-unitsNone

Easiest to use

UPPAbaby Mesa
Infant51160 g-unitsNone

Lightest pick

Nuna Pipa Lite
Infant43160 g-unitsLoad leg

Best for stroller conversion

Doona
Infant60360 g-unitsNone

*Amazon.com price as of 08/20/2021 at 9:30 a.m. (MT). See full disclaimer.

Related Pages on SafeWise

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, “AAP Updates Recommendation on Car Seats.” Accessed August 20, 2021.

Disclaimer

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina has been reviewing the latest tech for more than a decade and has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. She specializes in smart home and security technology, working to make gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification. 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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