Car Seats – Rear Facing Vs Forward Facing

It wasn’t too long ago that as soon as parents celebrated their little one’s first birthday they automatically made the switch from rear facing infant car seat to a forward facing car seat. Recommendations have changed and blowing out first birthday candles may not necessarily signify that it is time to turn the car seat around.

Most babies start out their driving experience nestled comfortably in an infant bucket seat that’s easily popped in and out of the stay in car base located in back seat of a car, such as the Graco SnugRide 35. Infant bucket seats used to have a maximum weight limit of 20-22 pounds. This used to mean time to turn baby around.

Under Ontario’s highway traffic act, a child can legally use a forward facing car seat once they reach 20 pounds. Yet there is more to consider, when making the decision to go forward facing, than just the minimum legal requirements.

New recommendations state that it’s safest to keep children rear facing as long as possible, until they reach the maximum height and/or weight restrictions of their car seat. The Graco SnugRide 35 is an infant seat that can actually be used up until 35 pounds, allowing for a longer time in the rear facing position.

Luckily there are options to keep your little one’s rear facing a little longer. In addition to the Graco SnugRide infant seat, the convertible car seat is a great option as many of them have a rear facing weight limitation of 40 pounds. This means that they are able to remain in a rear facing position until they reach 40 pounds or until their shoulders are higher than the top set of harness-strap slots in the car seat’s back. Graco has a wonderful convertible car seat, MyRide 65 that can be used for infants from five to 40 pounds in the rear facing position. Once your little one reaches 40 pounds you can simply turn your MyRide 65 around to a forward facing position and it will last you until your child reaches 65 pounds. It’s a great option that can be used after an infant bucket seat or even instead of an infant seat. The great thing about the MyRide 65 is that it can be used from infancy up until the time that most children are ready for a high back booster.

Young children do not have stable skeletal structures. Their bodies are still growing and all of their bones have not yet fused together. Their heads are quite large in comparison with their necks making a rear facing position much more supportive for their still developing bodies.

Some parents have expressed worries that, since they aren’t able to look out the windows in the front of the car or interact as easily with their parents in the front seat, their little ones may get bored in a rear facing position. This really shouldn’t be a concern that overtakes safety. If rear facing is all your child knows you would be surprised at how easily they are able to entertain themselves. The other question that parents typically have is whether there is a high risk of injury to their toddler’s legs. Older babies, that are still rear facing, may have to cross their legs, press them up against the back of the seat or even position their legs on either side of the seat. Studies show that risk of injury to legs in a crash is relatively low, and if an injury does occur it’s typically less dangerous than an injury to the neck or spine, which is the biggest concern with forward facing too early.

There are many options available to parents that will allow you to remain current with the more recent recommendations of keeping your child in a rear facing car seat until at least the age of two, or when they have outgrown the height/weight limitations on their rear facing seat, so make sure to research all of the options before making the switch for your child.


Graco Canada is currently offering a $25 mail-in rebate with the purchase of any Graco car seat (infant or toddler) or travel system over $99! This promotion is valid now through October 31st 2014. Visit for more info.


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