Our baby outgrew his infant car seat at about 4.5 months. At that time, we decided to get him a Britax Boulevard which can be rear facing or forward facing up to 65 lbs. Now, at 8.5 months, he is so tall that he can easily kick and push his legs on the rear passenger seat where his car seat is installed.

The current recommendations are that infants stay in a rear-facing position until they are 20lbs AND at least a year old. But, I am wondering if it is also unsafe to keep him in a rear-facing position if he can kick the seat in front of him (i.e. in an accident would it cause him to break his legs or hips). I don't want to have to turn him around before he is a year old, but I also don't want to risk injury by leaving him rear-facing.

Does anyone have any experience with tall infants and car seat safety? Is it okay if a baby can kick the seat in front of him?

asked 20 Jan '10, 01:41

cat_g's gravatar image

accept rate: 25%

edited 20 Jan '10, 02:33

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Scottie T

how Old is your child? How far away is you child from what they recommend?

(20 Jan '10, 02:23) Mary

He's 8.5 months now.

(20 Jan '10, 02:24) cat_g

We have a tall daughter, and we struggled with the same confusing and contradictory information. Eventually we settled it by going to the government website and reading the rules:

When the child outgrows the maximum height and weight of his/her infant seat, you may require a convertible rear-facing seat until your child is ready to be facing forward. The law requires using a rear-facing car seat until the baby is at least 9 kilograms (20 lb.)

The law is a minimum requirement. It’s best to keep your child rear-facing until they are at least one year old or until they have reached either the maximum height or weight limits of the rear-facing seat.

My understanding is that the "one year" recommendation is due to neck strength, which apparently depends more on age than weight. She was on the hairy edge of the limits of the seat for a couple of weeks, and then swapped her to a 3-in-1 forward facing seat probably around 11 months. This was legal but your other option is a convertible seat. If you get the convertible, I believe you then have to buy a booster seat eventually.


answered 20 Jan '10, 04:13

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Scott ♦♦
accept rate: 10%

+1 for the government site info. Re convertible seat: We've already moved him into the bigger car seat. He's been in a convertible seat since about 4.5 months when he outgrew his infant seat. And yes, we will have to buy a booster seat, but not for a while. The car seat is apprently good to 65lbs.

(20 Jan '10, 04:25) cat_g

@cat_g: So I guess the part that applies to you is "until they have reached either the maximum height or weight limits of the rear-facing seat." Sounds like being able to kick the seat doesn't even register on their radar.

(20 Jan '10, 04:40) Scott ♦♦

Where are the seats placed in Canada, do they have to placed in a certain place, like on the right side behind the driver? I ask this because about 4 years ago my sister in law told me that in the UK, they were recommending forward facing child seats be secured in the centre seat at the back. Apparently this was a measure enhance safety against possible collisions to the car from the side. We gave it a try and funnily enough, it made our daughter much happier, because she was able to look straight ahead at the road rather than facing the seat in front.

(20 Jan '10, 08:55) Emi

@Emi: It's strongly recommended that they go in the back seat, if possible. This is mostly due to airbag deployment in the front seat if the child is rear-facing - not a good combination. New vehicles have electronic control modules in the front passenger seat which will disable the airbag if it detects less than a certain weight, but it's better safe than sorry. In some vehicles with only a front seat (some pickup trucks) you really don't have an option. Left or right in the back seat doesn't matter though.

(20 Jan '10, 11:41) Scott ♦♦

@Scott Thanks Scott sorry I think I mis explained. I tried to clear but obviously not clear enough :) I actually meant in the back of the car... is there a particular place where car seats should be installed. Behind driver, middle of car or behind the other front seat. :)

(20 Jan '10, 11:47) Emi

@Emi When we went to our local Police station to have the car seat inspected they told us that the best place was the middle of the backseat, unless your car had a split seat (i.e. you can fold down part of the backseat) in which case they recommended the rear passenger side. They recommend this side so that when parking, you don't have to stand in the middle of the road to take your child out of the car.

(20 Jan '10, 13:18) cat_g

@cat_g Thanks Cat that was the answer I was looking for. We have been doing that for many years, but funnily enough there was no evidence on the web to back this up :)

(20 Jan '10, 13:28) Emi

@cat_g @Emi: Actually our instructions recommended choosing one of the seats that has the Universal Anchorage System (UAS) attachment points. In Tammy's vehicle, both left and right seats in the back have the UAS, but the middle doesn't. In mine, only the center does. However, due to accessibility (similar to cat_g's response), the one in my vehicle is installed in the rear passenger side, using the seat belt to hold it in.

(20 Jan '10, 13:42) Scott ♦♦

@Scott The car seat checkers at our fire department recommend using the middle seat and not using the LATCH system (which I assume is similar to your UAS?). They claim the LATCH system is easier to install correctly but isn't as robust as a properly installed car seat with the seat belt.

(20 Jan '10, 14:19) Kiesa ♦

@Kiesa: That obviously only applies until you have two children, right? Only one can be in the middle seat. Which one do you value more? ;)

(21 Jan '10, 01:22) Scott ♦♦
showing 5 of 10 show 5 more comments

You are definitely not the only person to have this question. Over at carseat.org, they recommend keeping children rear-facing for as long as possible. They also address this very issue of a rear-facing child's feet touching the seat back, saying:

Some older convertible safety seat instructions said that a child should face forward when her feet touch the vehicle seatback or if the legs must be bent. However, there is no evidence that longer legs are at risk of injury in a crash, and these instructions have now been revised. Most children learn to fold up their legs for comfort when their feet touch the back of the vehicle seat. The only physical limit on rear-facing use is when the child's head comes near the top of the safety seat. At this point, the child should be moved to a rear-facing convertible restraint, or, if the child is already using one and is over one year, he should be turned to face forward. For taller rear-facing children, the concern is not potential leg injuries but possible head contact with the vehicle interior in a severe rear impact or during rebound from a severe frontal collision. This can be controlled by using a rear-facing seat equipped with a rear-facing tether (Swedish style).


answered 20 Jan '10, 02:31

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Scottie T
accept rate: 15%

Great info! Thank you!

(20 Jan '10, 02:56) cat_g

rear facing a child AS LONG AS POSSIBLE is the safest way to go. Google rear facing and look at what comes up. In Sweden they rear face to at least 4 years old and it is RARE for a child to die in an accident. The US car accidents are the leading cause of death for young kids. The legs being folded or crossed, or even up the seat is much safer for the child than front facing. YouTube has many videos detailing the benifits of rear facing. Including crash tests and a video made by a grandfather with lots of facts. The grandfather had a grandson have an internal decapitation at 18 months in a foward facing baby seat during a car accident. Please keep your kids rear facing!!!


answered 05 Feb '11, 17:34

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Asked: 20 Jan '10, 01:41

Seen: 5,977 times

Last updated: 05 Feb '11, 17:34