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Rear-Facing Car Seat Until Two?

By Naomi Odes |

The Way-Back.

Remember the ‘way-back?‘ The ‘way-back,’ for those of you born after 1980, was the ‘trunk’ of the station wagon where I often sat, or laid down during carpool or other times when the back seat was filled to capacity. That was in our Datsun which was kind of a small wagon. Then we got our ’77 Chevy Impala Wagon that had an actual third row seat that was rear-facing. There were no seatbelts involved, let alone car seats. Heck, I remember rolling around the seatbelt-free back seat and even opening the door of a moving vehicle once, before child-locks.

Yes, I am old as the hills, and it’s a miracle I’m still alive to tell these tales.

Today, a NY times article said that rear-facing seats car seats are advised until at least age two. Back when I had Shnook, the rule was 20lbs and one year. I think we actually kept the Shnook rear-facing until he was about fourteen months because we were traveling so much that we just never had time to turn the seat around. But, once the Shnook was facing forward, I’ll admit, he was happier in the car.

I fully understand the physics and biology behind why the car seat should be rear-facing for younger kids and reading the comments on this article has indeed, made me see many valid points. I agree that some points, including the fact that they are happier and less cramped are difficult to reason with in the face of safety.

Also, having been in a minor accident with both a rear-facing newborn, and a forward-facing two-year-old, I’ll admit that I felt bad that the toddler was not rear-facing at the time.

But, I still have a couple of concerns:

1. Being from a family prone to motion sickness- and having watched my niece and nephew barf due to motion sickness at age one-it is possible that leaving a child in a rear-facing position through age two could be very nauseating to say the least. So, say you have a child that gets carsick very easily–for the sake of safety, do you leave them rear-facing and let them throw-up every time they go for a ride? Or even every 5th time they go for a ride? That’s a lot of puke.

2. Are there any statistics on children choking in the rear-facing car seat when they are older since it’s much harder for the parents to see what they are doing- even with those little mirrors?

3. If you’re trying to see your child in one of those little mirrors, or hand them a snack trap full of puffs, aren’t you more distracted as a driver trying to figure out what’s going on with them than you may be if he/she was forward-facing and thereby putting your child at more risk for an accident than were the child forward-facing?

All these concerns stated, unless Fuzz has any issues with #1, we’ll probably keep him rear-facing a lot longer than we did for the Shnook. One bonus is that with Fuzz being rear-facing he and the Shnook can look at each other much easier than were they both in rear or forward-facing seats. At least this is a bonus until Shnook reaches out and smacks Fuzz. Or Vice Versa.

As my husband, who is rather smart (despite his disaster preparedness plan) said: “Basically we’d all be safer if we were rear-facing.” But, unfortunately, that’s not an option.

Do you plan on keeping your baby in a rear-facing seat until two? Why or why not?


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About Naomi Odes


Naomi Odes

Naomi Odes Aytur is a blogger who's contributed on the parenting channel of Babble. She chronicles her experiences of being a new mom on her personal website, I Am Still Awake. Read bio and latest posts → Read Naomi's latest posts →

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19 thoughts on “Rear-Facing Car Seat Until Two?

  1. bridgitt says:

    Yes, and I was even before the news in the last few days. She’s currently 17 months (I also have a 3 month old) but she only weighs 20 pounds. She doesn’t seem unhappy or uncomfortable in the car (she doesn’t know any different!) And rear-facing is soooo much safer. And not to judge, but #3 above shouldn’t be an issue – its not safe to hand anything to a person (especially a child) in the backseat while you’re driving, regardless of which direction they’re facing!

  2. Jennifer H. says:

    If he’s doing OK rear facing, leave him… if he’s uncomfortable, flip him around. That’s our plan.
    Our son is 9 months old and HATES/LOATHES/DESPISES the car. It’s meant that we can hardly go shopping and can’t visit my family, who live 2 hours away. We suspect motion sickness, since the baby is OK on short trips. Longer than 20 minutes or a curvy road? Blood curdling screaming nonstop. Driving with that is NOT safe. It doesn’t matter, once he feels bad, if someone is in the back playing games with him or not… he feels bad and wants out, so he makes himself known. We are hopeful that, once he is forward facing, he will feel better. As such, we will be flipping him at 12 months.
    As a concerned mother, I’d like to keep him rear facing longer (he’s already been upgraded out of the infant seat into full size car seats, the “5-100lb” convertible jobs). It’s safer, even though he’s already in the safest place in the car (center rear). Realistically though, being nearly housebound for 9 months has not been awesome and I miss my family. He is missing time with his extended family. We need a compromise and flipping him around at 12 months (he’ll be well past the weight limit then) may help him feel better in the car, thus allowing his world to expand.

  3. jamiebeths says:

    i know you don’t want to hear this, but apparently those little mirrors aren’t safe or recommended either. sorry! (we use one in one of our cars, but not the other and generally i don’t let her eat in the car if i can help it….)

    1. Naomi says:

      OMG, how do you avoid feeding your kid in the car?? If he’s screaming or crying cheddar bunnies always help!! (AT least they used to when he was between 1 and 2.)

      Also, frankly, we don’t use the mirror (anymore) either. I can’t see Fuzz AT ALL in my car (he’s behind me) which totally sucks.

    2. Naomi says:

      My firstborn spent a LOT of time in the car when he was 12-18 months since we were back and forth to my mother-in-law’s due to her illness. I know the poor kid was extremely bored.

      I will say that most of the time when I gave him snacks, I was sitting in the passenger seat and not driving.

  4. PlumbLucky says:

    Babe the Elder was R/F til the day before Babe the Younger was born (it is physically impossible for husby to drive the car with either Babe’s carseat in R/F position behind the driver’s side; nor can he sit in the passenger seat with the bucket installed behind it, but that’s another story), which put him just shy of two years.

    As far as motion sickness goes, at least mine anyways, it doesn’t matter what direction I’m facing.

  5. Kim says:

    I’ve had my kids extended rear facing since long before this became headline news. The decision is simple – life-threatening injury or inconvenience? I can clean up a little puke and my kid lives to see another day. I can turn the kid around and get in a wreck, and they may never walk again if they live through it.
    Um…yeah. No-brainer. And you don’t need to give a kid choke-able food in a car anyway.

    1. Naomi says:

      @Kim, thanks for your comments. Obviously, foods that are choking hazzards would be unadvisable. Kids can choke on their own vomit, although not so common, it is a concern. I’m not talking about the inconvenience of vomit, I’m talking about both the safety concerns and also the illness of the child.

      Again, I’m not saying I won’t leave my kid rear-facing, I’m just saying this aspect might be challenging.

  6. JenAK says:

    I feel fortunate that I have a peanut; at almost 3 years, he’s still just over 30 pounds, and since we have a Radian for him, he should be able to stay rear-facing for quite a while longer (we never turned his seat forward). He’s staying RF until he hits the height-weight limit, at which point the seat will protect him better facing forward.

    My main concern is that once my second comes along in May, my (taller) husband will probably no longer be able to drive my sedan, since two RF seats in the back will restrict the position of the driver’s seat (putting one in the center so son #1 can touch son #2 seems like a bad idea). Oh well – we’ll work around it.

    1. Naomi says:

      @JenAK- We started out with one in the middle and one on the side, but you are right, that definitely ended up being a bad idea. The bucket seat might be easier for your husband to drive behind than the toddler seat, although it’s a challenge for us as well. I don’t really like having the infant behind me, but I think it’s better than not being able to see the toddler. Now the toddler tells me what’s going on with the baby when I ask him. “Is He asleep?” “Yep.”

  7. jes says:

    in our case, our concern is about #3 (she is a screamer… a determined, fascist screamer) and about her height. she is already the weight limit, and will be 1 in two months, but she is TALL. and there is no way we will be able to make it to two unless she learns yoga now and wants her legs behind her ears. she’s been in the convertible car seat since birth, but already her legs touch the back of the seat with bent knees in my car… i just don’t see age two happening. and i know, i will always feel guilty and hold my breath each time we drive.

  8. PlumbLucky says:

    @JenAK – I recommend looking into some of the smaller profile seats – Britax makes one as do several other brands. We have a Britax Roundabout 55 for husby’s car, and it has a smaller R/F profile than our bucket does. If we’d had this, BTE would still be R/F.

  9. cd says:

    It’d be great if everyone who said “but what about baby’s poor legs/preference to face forward/etc” just said, “I’m happy to gamble on not having an accident and I’m comfortable with losing that gamble so I listen to less complaining.”

    There is no “but” when it comes to the laws of physics. I can’t believe this is an actually question or topic of discussion. Do you ride with your baby in your lap? That’s where mine would be happiest all of the time. Of course you don’t. So why question the really basic, really well-known research about the safest position for your child?

  10. Anjie says:

    My daughter rearfaced until she was 3 and so will my son. No IFs, ANDs or BUTs!

  11. KellyL says:

    My daughter is 18 mos and still RF. She is tall for her age and seems to have no problem finding a place for her legs and feet to go (her toes/shoes actually gives her something to amuse herself with as we drive). It’s all about safety and that is all that matters when it comes to our children. I have been told that being RF should actually help a child who tends to have motion sickness as seeing objects through a window coming toward you zooming by super fast can make them more nauseous, which is what they see when facing foward. If a major injury can be avoided during an accident by something so small, why would you not chose the option of keeping them RF for as long as possible

    1. Naomi says:

      @KellyL- I definitely agree that if we can avoid injury, we should, obviously, but I will tell you, as someone who gets carsick, that rear-facing is ABSOLUTELY the WORST way to go when it comes to that. Watching the road is the best for motion sickness, that’s why no one gets sick when they’re driving.

  12. Jessica says:

    My son is still rear facing at two and a half. Perhaps he’d be happier facing forward but he is entertained well enough having books to look at. I try to avoid food in the car so that choking isn’t a concern because I would get worried not being able to see him (no mirror either).

  13. shannon says:

    My niece is 26 months and wights 26 lb my husband and I, as well ad her dr, decided it was in her best interest to stay rear facing until she maxed out the rear facing wight on her car seat, ours is 33 lbs. She doesn’t mind seating rear facing and like the youtube videos and the other websites I have ran about this, your child is more likely to recover from a broken leg then a severed spin. As for a choking hazards we check her toys before we give them to her, but she likes to read while in the car. If she needs something I tell her she’ll have to wait until we stop. We like to follow the Sweden way of car seat safety and keep her rear facing until she’s 4.

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