Top 10 Reasons for Extended Rear-Facing

If you have become a parent within the last several years, you are familiar with rear-facing your infant for maximum safety. But when your baby outgrows their infant car seat, what do you do next? You upgrade to a convertible car seat with rear-facing longevity in mind! Research state laws to become familiar with the bare minimum requirements for your child’s safety. Then ask yourself, why isn’t more required? Why are seats designed to rear-face children 3-4 years if the laws tell us we can turn them forward-facing at a younger age and weight? We all want to keep our children as safe as possible, so it’s time to dive into current research to make the best decisions for our little ones who cannot decide for themselves. Confused?

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why We “Extended” Rear-Face.

1.) Based on Data, not our Decision.

We’ve done the research. There is nothing suggesting that it is safer to turn our son Forward-Facing before he has outgrown the limits of his Rear-Facing seat. We pretend like our child’s life depends on it — because it just may. It’s five times safer than sitting forward-facing. If you want the data, check out The Car Seat Lady and Why Rear-Facing: the Science Junkie’s Guide.

There are multiple factors involved in this discussion; the unique physiology of a young toddler combined with the type of force in the most severe crashes adds up to the perfect storm that puts kids at significant risk if they are forward facing too early. First, let’s explore the difference in anatomy. Toddlers are not just small adults; their bodies are still developing and those developmental changes make them more vulnerable than an adult. Car Seats for The Littles

2.) Actually…

…there are not nine more reasons more important than making our decision for our child based on the most recent data and research. That’s all. As long as your child is within the height and weight limits of their rear-facing car seat (and there are PLENTY to choose from) there is no reason to turn them forward facing. Watch the video on this page and discuss with everyone who drives your child.

Common Myths

“But what if his legs break in an accident?” Then he wears a cast and heals up. If you’re arguing that broken legs are worse than a broken spine or neck (injuries that occur from young ones’ anatomy not being fully developed), you may want to re-think your priorities.

“But what if he doesn’t like the view?” He’s three. He doesn’t really have a choice. We talk him through our many road trips and drives, letting him know to look to his left or right for certain objects or landmarks.

‘But he can’t be comfortable like that!” He’s been sitting rear-facing his entire life. He is approaching the weight limit on his seat now (Diono Radian RXT), he will be forward-facing soon, and we have recently turned a seat forward-facing in our second vehicle. He enjoys the view, asking amazing questions about rules of the road, and loves to see us, but he isn’t comfortable as he has nowhere to put his legs. He often doesn’t like falling asleep sitting like this either because his head falls forward instead of comfortably back. But that will be his new normal as his size now dictates it.

“But you didn’t even have a car seat when you were a kid, and you turned out just fine!” Yeah, well, a lot of other kids didn’t turn out at all. And women used to paint their nails with radium back in the day, too, but we all learn lessons and adapt safety requirements as we evolve.


Bottom Line?

Just remember…

Rear facing is not a choice to be made based on parenting style or opinion; it’s one based on scientific fact. The more we know about crashes, the better we’re able to protect our kids from severe injury as a result of a crash. Car Seats for The Littles


Images of Happy Rear-Facing 3-4 year-olds from The Car Seat Lady

Stay Informed!

While the Car Seat Check at Bay & Bee this weekend is full, contact Safe Kids of Northeast Florida to schedule a local check for your seat’s installation and to make sure your child fits properly in their current seat. I have an appointment on Friday to double check everything before we make the big step to forward-face our soon-t0-be-4-year-old.

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Interesting to Note!


Register your car seat! This is so important for the manufacturer to stay in touch with you regarding potential recalls and other issues. We registered our son’s infant seat in 2011 and received notice just last year that there was a buckle replacement being sent out. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have known, and we would have potentially used that seat for our next child due in October.

Brandi recently took a break from her career as a mapmaker (GIS Analyst) to stay at home with her toddler son after moving to Jacksonville, Florida. She is knee-deep in diaper bags and baby gear as the founder of her website Little Brim Baby and as a contributor for BuyModernBaby and Child Mode. Passionate about breastfeeding, babywearing, and children’s books, she also enjoys spending time with her son browsing the local stores for unique baby and toddler items, enjoying area waterways with her family, and trying to adjust her native Illinois body to the humid Florida climate. Brandi is a baby gear enthusiast and loves sharing her favorite products, reviews, tips, and fellow moms’ advice with her readers.


  1. Wonderful article! We decided to do extended rear facing in a Diono Radian RXT as well. Love those seats! We had already turned our son around and he was sitting forward, but we put him back to rear facing and he hasn’t minded a bit. He’s also very comfortable in his seat. Another great resource for extended rear facing is this site: I used that site extensively when researching which car seat would work best for us. We wanted the Rainier, but unfortunately it wouldn’t fit in our car.

  2. Yep. A map making specialist is the perfect person to turn to for advice about car safety. I’m not going to argue about facing your child forward or backward. The truth is we would all probably be safer facing backwards, including the driver. The truth is this isn’t an science or engineering article and it does not link engineering articles. As a general rule, websites ending in “.com” are not good places to do this type of research.

  3. Great article! We turned our first daughter fwd facing at age 3, our 2.5 year old is still rear facing and since she fits and she’s comfortable, she’ll be that way for a good while longer. There’s no need to turn her forward, she’s safer rear facing. End of story.
    Thanks for writing and thanks to jax moms blog for posting. I see so many little ones fwd facing when they could still be rear facing.


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