The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) car seat safety guidelines advise parents to keep toddlers rear-facing until at least age 2. We’ve rounded up some of the best rear-facing convertible car seats that help ensure your child rides comfortably and safely in their car seat as long as possible. As with any baby gear, parents should carefully measure the space in their car and research car seats to find the best option for their child. If you have other questions about the best car seat for your baby, especially if you have a child with special needs, consult with your pediatrician.
Rear Facing Car Seat Guidelines
The AAP advises parents and caregivers to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2, or until they reach the highest height and weight allowed by their car seat manufacturer, which may be well past their second birthday. The reason for the guidelines? Children are safer while riding rear-facing as opposed to facing forward.
Most convertible car seats these days let kids stay rear-facing up to 40 pounds, which will take many kids through the age 2 guideline (check the back of the seat for the specific weight and height limits of your rear-facing convertible car seat model), but if you want your child to rear-face longer, you’ll need to choose the right seat. We’ve rounded up some car seats with extended rear-facing capability up to 50 pounds.
But, the upper weight limit isn’t the only factor to consider. Seated height (where the child’s bottom sits to the top of the car seat) and developmental needs are also important. And because some kids will exceed the height limit long before they surpass the weight limit, we recommend you carefully research which of the many rear-facing convertible car seats that are available today is most appropriate for your child.
Rear Facing Car Seat Safety for Toddlers
Alisa Baer, M.D., a certified instructor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 4-day car seat course (who’s also known as The Car Seat Lady), suggests that parents look at where their child falls on the growth charts for weight and height to help predict whether a seat with higher limits is needed. To see where your child hits on the growth curves—and what he or she will likely weigh at 2 or 3 years of age, check out these growth charts from the World Health Organization (birth to 24 months) and the Centers for Disease Control (2 to 20 years):
- Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Boys (Birth to 24 months)
- Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Girls (Birth to 24 months)
- Stature-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Boys (2 to 20 years)
- Stature-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Girls (2 to 20 years)
Finally, not all car seats fit all cars equally well, especially when rear-facing. To help determine how a particular car seat will fit in your ride, measure carefully to ensure you purchase the best rear-facing car seat for your child.
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