Making it easy for your toddler to ride rear facing
by Katherine Hutka, Child Safety Link
All babies start off riding in a rear-facing car seat. By now, you have probably heard that riding in a rear-facing car seat is safest for your older baby or toddler, too! Indeed, riding rear facing offers the BEST protection for your growing child’s head, neck and spine, so there is absolutely no reason to rush your child into a forward-facing car seat.
Here are three key tips to help make it easier to keep your toddler riding rear facing:
Tip #1: Newer seats can be used rear facing for longer!
Once your child moves from the infant seat to a larger rear-facing seat (convertible), most can be used rear facing up to 40 pounds! Always check both weight and height limits when buying a seat to find one that can be used rear facing for longer.
Remember that car seats certified for use in Canada are all tested to the same standard. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a seat that your child can use rear facing for a long time. The best seat is the one that fits your child, your vehicle and your budget.
Tip #2: Some seats can be installed more upright once your baby is older.
Check your labels and instructions to see if yours is one of them!
Newborns and young babies need their seat more reclined so that their head won’t tilt forward and close their airway. Older babies and toddlers with good head control find a more upright position more comfortable. You may find this more upright angle gives you more room too! There is still enough recline in a rear-facing car seat for a comfortable nap.
Tip #3: It is safe for your child’s feet to touch the back seat.
Children like to sit cross-legged or to stick their feet straight up. Parents often worry about their child’s legs pressing against the back seat at this age. Children are much more flexible than adults and are comfortable sitting in positions that might be difficult for us as adults. What about safety? We know that injuries to the legs are not common in rear-facing children and that rear-facing car seats are designed to best protect the head, neck and spine in a crash. A broken leg is also much easier to fix than a spinal cord injury.
Transport Canada recommends that you keep your child rear facing as long as your car seat’s height and weight limits allow. Every seat is different so be sure to know your limits! For more information on keeping your child safe in the car at any age, click here.