As a parent, you immediately have the urge to protect your little bundle of joy. It’s nature-it’s natural instinct. While you can’t cling to them as you drive, you can put your trust in a car seat that not only comfortably cradles your baby, but keeps them safe and secure.
With so many car seats on the market, choosing the right one can be a daunting and stressful task for a new mommy. Front facing? Rear facing? Which one should you choose, and how many car seats will your child need as they grow? How long should your child remain rear facing? Which ones will support a
Each kind of seat has its own set of pros and cons, and based on my experience, I can share how I successfully made my selection and gained total peace of mind while I drove my baby around.
Rear Facing Car Seat
A rear facing car seat is designed specifically for infants. Most seats will grow with your baby, allowing them to stay rear facing in the seat until they reach the seat’s specific weight or height limit. Each seat is designed differently, so it’s hard to say when the measurement limits will expire.
The “old” way of thinking has children rear facing in their seat until one year of age, or 20 pounds-whatever comes first. Recently, it has been suggested that parents keep their child rear facing as long as possible. The “new” way of thinking is keep kids rear facing until they are at least 2 years old and/or 60 pounds. Why?
The benefits of keeping a child rear facing include:
- Added head and neck support in case of a crash.
- A rear facing seat spreads out impact more evenly.
- The belts don’t become a hazard because they are worn across the body properly.
- Necks are supported when children doze off. Their body placement also remains cradled.
The cons of keeping a child rear facing include:
- Hassel once the child is heavier/taller. Creates a hard to reach/hook space for parents.
- Can’t see the child or address their needs once they hit toddlerhood.
The good news is that car seat systems can be used rear facing and turned front facing without having to purchase an additional seat. Some even turn into booster seats when the child is much older and ready to sit on their own.
Front Facing Seats
Front facing seats are solely purchased when a child has hit a height, weight, or age requirement. This usually happens at around the age of 18 months (depending on the size of the child) and all the way up to 3 or 4 years old. Front facing seats are never to be used rear facing. However, if you have purchased a convertible car seat, yours has been specially designed to convert back and forth, making it ok to do so.
Front facing seats are great transition seats that teach your child how to sit in a car properly, buckle up, and enjoy the views and privileges of being an older child in a car. It also helps transition them to a booster seat, which can be used around 40 pounds and up to 100 pounds.
The benefits of putting your child in a front facing seat include:
- Easy access. Your child can literally climb in and out of their seat.
- Easy to see, talk to, and help your child.
- Easy for parents to set up the seat and hook the belt.
- Most children find sitting front facing makes them less dizzy and they enjoy being in a car and going on longer rides more.
Cons of a front facing seat:
- Belt must be worn properly or the seat won’t do its job.
- Children can easily unhook their own belts.
- If a child falls asleep and hunches over, they are without support and could be injured easily in case of an accident.
- If there is an impact, your child’s head and neck are less protected.
- Most front facing seats (especially booster seats) aren’t anchored like a rear facing seat is, so the seat solely relies on the use of the seat belt.
All children are going to face front eventually. I learned that really isn’t a rush and if a rear facing seat offers more support and protection, then I put my child’s safety over everything else.
When shopping for a car seat, it’s important to consider these pros and cons. Variations of different car seats can be purchased from both big-box retailers or specialty baby boutiques online. Based on my experience, your best bet is to purchase a convertible car seat so that it can be used rear facing first, and then front facing once your child shows signs of growth and readiness. This cuts down on costs and keeps your baby in a cradled, secure seat longer!