When Should My Child Switch To A Forward-Facing Car Seat?

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It can be confusing and hard for parents to know when the right time is to make a switch.

It can be more difficult if you don’t have the right knowledge about car seats and the difference between them all.

As parents, it is important to always be aware of changes regarding a child’s safety.

You may ask when to switch to forward facing car seat?

Well, to put it in simply, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended moving your child out of the rear facing car seat unless they reach the height and weight limits of the car seat; which means that until your child outgrows from the rear facing then only you can make the switch.

Here’s the five common things You Should Know About Forward Facing Car Seat:

  1. Forward Facing Vs. Rear Facing
  2. When Can Babies Face Forward In A Car Seat?
  3. How Long Should Your Child Stay Forward Facing?
  4. What Can You Do With Your Old Car Seats?
  5. Safety Tips For Forward Facing Car Seat

Every parent must know when the accurate time is to switch and all the necessary details before and after switching.

In this article, I will be discussing everything you need to know to make the right decision.

5 Common Things You Should Know About Forward Facing Car Seat

How much should a child weigh for a forward-facing car seat? Get an answer through my article and also know some important aspects of it

If you are using a rear facing car seat and thinking about making a switch, it is necessary to know everything beforehand.

Even though they provide the same purpose, safety, and comfort for your child, they are both still quite distinctive from one another.

You need to know the appropriate and reliable information about forward facing car seats so it can be easier for you and your child. It is important to make a switch as your child grows.

But one of the greatest things about forward facing car seat is that I must say is that your child can use it for many years due to its long lifespan, which you can learn in further detail in this article.

So let’s start!

1. Forward Facing Vs. Rear Facing

The main purpose of car seats is to provide as much protection and comfort they can provide to your young child.

But as soon as they grow, there are necessary changes that you are obligated to make.

If your child is at the age of 2 or 3 and is still using a rear facing convertible seat, but now you think it is time to make a change, well, there are certain things that you might want to be sure about.

The Federal Aviation Administration states that your child should be seated rear facing for as long as possible, which means that you do not have to make this change too soon, even if your child is above the age of 3.

Here is more information.

It is also important for you to note that your child should be above the height and weight limits of the rear facing car seat so he/she can switch to forward facing car seat.

Rear Facing Car Seat

As I have mentioned earlier, all children from birth until they reach the weight and height limit of the car seat should be seated rear facing, according to the FAA.

It does not particularly mean that once your child is 3, he/she should be moved to forward facing car seat.

If you are using an infant seat that is rear faced only, you must know that your child should be at least 30 to 40 pounds to fit in, and if your child is above the weight limit, you can move to a convertible rear facing car seat.

One of the drawbacks of having an infant rear facing only car seat is that it can expire way too soon, so it is always best to get a convertible car seat.

Moving on, it is also suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, FAA, and the AAP that your child is in the safest position when seated rear faced.

This is because, during a crash, the seat is highly likely to absorb the forces of the crashes instead of passing through the body of your child.

Forward Facing Car Seat

You need to note that convertible car seats can be used as rear facing and forward facing, but you are suggested to use the rear facing for as long as possible and until your child outgrows.

However, if your child is above the age of 4 and weighs above 40 to 50 pounds, you can move them to forward facing car seat as it will provide extra leg and upper body space.

One of the greatest things about this is that it is important for you to make sure that you are following the proper guidelines set so your child can transport safely.

Even though it is not as safe as rear facing, it can still protect from crashes due to its impact cushion and shield on the seat.

Moreover, the installation process of the car seat is easier and super quick, and it will also keep the seat stay in place. Just make sure to tighten and lock the seat belt always.

Here’s how to do that right way.

2. When Can Babies Face Forward In A Car Seat?

Before 2018, it was acceptable and appropriate to switch your child from rear facing to forward facing at the age of two.

However, there have been changes made in recent years. You need to wait as long as possible as suggested by the AAP, NHTSA, and FAA.

Moving on, now that you have a better idea of the rear facing and forward facing car seat, it will be easier for you to understand the difference and make the right choice.

If you look at your child and see that he/she is still too young to ride forward facing, you shouldn’t switch too soon.

It is important to note that when you and your child are ready, it is the appropriate time to make a change.

Do Not Switch Before The Age Of Two

Do keep in mind that you should not think about switching before the age of two or if they weigh less than 40-50 pounds, at least at the age of 8 to 12.

It can be a risky thing to do as you want your child to fit on the seat perfectly without slouching or leaning, but most importantly, the seat belt should fit the child and place accurately.

This is because instead of the harness being too loose, it will be fitted well on your child, and they will be unable to unbuckle.

This is important to keep in mind because once your child is the right fit for the seat, it will protect you from injuries and any impact from the forces of a crash.

However, if your child is too small for the seat, there are high chances for him to get spinal cord or abdomen injuries. Therefore, make sure to only switch when it is the right time.

3. How Long Should Your Child Stay Forward Facing?

For as long as possible!

Just like the rear facing car seat, it is also important to keep your child forward facing as long as possible until he/she exceeds the height and weight limits of the car seat.

This is important because the more you transition, the more unprotected your child is from the impacts of crashes and can get severe head, neck, abdomen, or broken legs injuries.

It is important for you to note that your child can stay on the seat for a really long time as the forward facing convertible car seat can withhold your child’s weight from 40 to 100 pounds; nonetheless, it also depends on the model of the car seat you are using.

Do keep in mind that there is no rush when it comes to making a car seat switch.

This is because your child is sitting safely, comfortably, and securely and that is what should really matter, right?

Besides that, manufacturers design car seats that can last for up to 6 to 10 years max, so it is given that your child can have extra space until he/she grows up in it, and then it is finally time to make a switch.

In addition to that, if you are making a transition, it is important that instead of moving your child to a seat belt, make sure to put them on booster seats first as they are far safer than moving to a seat belt right away.

If you would like to know more about booster seats, then I wrote this article on What Age Can My Kids Transition To Booster Seats? for you to read.

4. What Can You Do With Your Old Car Seats?

If you are someone who is ready to make the switch but unsure about what to do with the old car seat, then there’s nothing to stress about.

There have been many cases in which people get so confused about what to do when they do not need it anymore.

Anyhow, it is important for you to note that there are certain things to keep in mind before you decide as there are parents who make mistakes only because they were never told what to do with the car seat after purchasing it.

Use It For Other Child

If you have more than one child, then it is only appropriate for your other child to use it when it’s time as it will save you so much money spending on a new car seat.

Moreover, it is also a good option to give the car seat to someone you know, such as a friend or relative, as they can rely on you.

Nonetheless, though, it is important for you to keep in mind that there are certain rules that you should follow before making these decisions for the safety of your child and others.

It is important to always provide with the full requirements of the car seats, such as the manufacturer’s information, the instruction manual, all the parts of the car seat, etc. as these are the first thing that you should gather if you are planning to give it to someone or even use it for your other child.

What about buying an old car seat?

You can read this blog about it whether if it’s a good idea or not.

Do Not Use If The Car Seat Is Involved In An Accident

Moreover, another important thing that you must not discard is that if the seat was ever involved in a car accident or if it was ever damaged or are there any broken parts, then you cannot either use it again or sell it or give it to anyone at all, the best decision for you to do is to throw it away.

Make Sure To Check The Expiry Date Of The Car Seat

Lastly, it is also important to check the expiry date of the car seat as it is stated that after the expiration date, it is not valid to keep using the seat even if it was never involved in an accident or damaged in any way.

5. Safety Tips For Transitioning To A Forward-Facing Car Seat

  • It is important to always check the manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle manual before you install the car seat, as some models are designed differently, and they might not fit in some car types.
  • Make sure to always check the car seat also buckle and lock the seat belt every time before you start driving as some kids might play with the belt or the seat position can be disturbed.
  • Moreover, it is also important to always buckle your child properly and tighten the seat belt if needed, as, during a crash, it will protect the child from jerking in a crash.
  • Make sure to always teach your kids the safety lessons that will help them understand that it is not appropriate for them to play around while they are on the seat or unbuckle themselves.
  • It is important to note that kids on any car seat should not be used for sleeping and only use it in the car when you are traveling somewhere.
  • Make sure the height and weight of your child always matches the weight and height limits of the car seat.
  • Always install the forward facing car seat in the center seat as it will be easier for you to look at your child sitting at the back, and it is also considered the safest place to install, which will protect you from getting injuries during a crash.


It can be difficult when it comes to transitioning, but it is always important to note that you should do it only when you meet the right requirements and when your child is finally ready.

I hope with this article and the details I provided you will be able to understand when to switch to forward facing car seat.

Once you do make the switch, it is your responsibility to check the car seat to be sure you installed it right and make sure to teach your children the right ethics when they are seated and traveling so you can drive stress-free.