Car seats protect children from being injured in a car crash. When you use the right car seat in the right way, you can reduce the risk that your child will be hurt or killed by 70%. Car seats save lives.
The Type of Car Seat for your Toddler
Toddlers can be in a convertible car seat. A convertible car seat is one that can be used rear-facing and forward facing. This type of car seat has a high weight limit that allows toddlers to be rear-facing until they weigh 35 pounds (14 kg) or more. This seat can also be forward facing until they weigh 40 pounds (18 kg) or more. Some seats have a high harness weight limit for forward facing that goes as high as 65 pounds (29 kg). Check your car seat for height and weight limits.
The rear-facing position provides more protection in crash, because the rear-facing seat will protect the toddler’s spinal cord, back, and neck. If there was a car crash, and the toddler is turned forward too soon, they have a higher risk of injury to their spinal cord. It is okay if the toddler’s feet touch the back seat.
Child Safety Link recommends that you keep your toddler rear-facing as long as possible according to your convertible car seat's height and weight limits.
Minimum Criteria to Turn a Toddler Forward
You may choose to turn your toddler’s convertible car seat from a rear-facing position to a forward facing position once your child has achieved all of these three steps:
When you decide to turn your toddler forward in a car seat, there will be a few differences from the rear-facing position.
The seat will not be reclined, it will be positioned upright.
The harness will need to be level with or above the child’s shoulders.
The car seat’s tether strap must be attached to your car's tether bolt.
For more information to install your car seat and harness your toddler visit the links on the left.
For more information, check out the following resources:
To view CSL's January 2013 public service announcement on tips for proper installation of a forward-facing car seat, click here .
To download our new Car Seat Safety Checklist for Forward-Facing Seats, click here!
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Click here to download our parent booklet: "Keep Kids Safe: A Parent's Guide to Car Seats"
To chat with other parents and car seat safety volunteers, check out the Atlantic Car Seat Safety page on Facebook.