Extended Rear Facing & Car Seat Safety

Extended Rear Facing is the safest option for all kids.

I can’t tell you how often a friend or family member goes to help put my kids in our van and is surprised to see that Jackson, at over 2.5 years old, is still rear facing in his car seat. I believe a parent always wants what is best for their child and I know my kids are safest while rear facing in their car seats. 

I have wanted to talk about extended rear facing for a while now because it is something I am passionate about, but it always seems to be such a controversial topic. The longest Facebook discussions seem to be about car seat safety and why people decided to turn their kids around at 9 months or 1 year. Parents get defensive about their decisions and I’ve heard many reasons; their legs look uncomfortable, my kid is too big to sit backwards or they get angry not being able to see out the windshield, etc. I don’t want to argue with anybody but I’d like to share my reasons for keeping my kids rear facing for as long as possible- hopefully until their car seat allows, which is 45lbs in the case of our car seats (Sunshine Kids/Diono Radian XTSL)

Just last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their policy on car seat safety:

  • All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear facing car safety seat (CSS) until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
  • All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear facing weight or height limit for their CSS, should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and-shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
  • All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
I believe all parents want to do what is best for their child and that some people simply aren’t aware of the updated policy or WHY it is safer for their kids to face backwards in their car seats. Here are a couple of facts from a great resource: Car-Safety.org
  • Rear facing is safest for both adults and children, but especially for babies, who would face a greater risk of spinal cord injury in a front-facing carseat during a frontal crash.
  • Rear facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child’s back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.
  • Rear facing carseats may not be quite as effective in a rear end crash, but severe frontal and frontal offset crashes are far more frequent and far more severe than severe rear end crashes.
  • Rear facing carseats are NOT a safety risk just because a child’s legs are bent at the knees or because they can touch/kick the vehicle seat.
  • Rear facing as long as possible is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians, and can reduce injuries and deaths.   Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under.
After reading numerous sites online about car-seat safety, I’ve made the decision to keep my kids as safe as possible, for as long as possible. I also make sure to practice car seat safety every. single. time. they are strapped in because, let’s face it, no one gets in the car thinking “this will be the day I get in a terrible car crash.” I make a mental note to myself that nothing is worth more than keeping my kids properly buckled in. Everything can wait the few extra moments it takes to tighten the harness and make sure the chest clip is buckled and placed in between their chest and arm-pit (read more about basic car seat safety tips here.)
If you’d like to learn more about extended rear-facing, take a few minutes to check out these sites:



Did you know that you can get your car seat inspected by a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician in your area, for FREE? Visit SeatCheck.org to find your local CPS technician. I’ve had my seats checked out a couple of times by a local Safe Kids car seat check at a local department store and both times I saw them giving car seats to families who didn’t have safe ones.  Safety should never be compromised, so if there are budgetary reasons why your kids aren’t in safe seats, please know that there are people out there willing to help you out.


I hope our families never get in a car crash. I hope my children’s car seats never have to be put to the test.  I want my kids to be as safe as possible and that’s why I’ve made the decision to “extended rear face” them in their car seats.


  1. Alicia Zirjacks says

    Excellent post. My kids are out of car seats but there is NOTHING more important than car/carseat safety and amen to you for being thorough and safe :)

  2. says

    Great post – We have Olivia rear facing still – I have to double check the weight limit of our seat rear facing, we will definitely keep her that way as long as we can. Its easy for us too – she loves to watch her brothers who sit in the back seat of the van so rear facing is how she would have it!!

  3. says

    This is a great post, even though I don’t have kids I think it’s important for everyone to be educated especially when it comes to safety! Thanks for explaining it in a way that is non-confrontational and easy to understand!!

  4. says

    Great post! I’m glad you are spreading the word. The widespread ignorance and nonchalance around car seat safety always shocks me. I plan on keeping my daughter rear-facing for as long as possible, because nothing is more important to me than her health, safety and well-being.

  5. Hali S. says

    I’m always shocked when people post pictures of their kids in their seats with the chest buckle all the way down! With all the resources available, I’m surprised they obviously don’t know that it’s my safe

  6. says

    Great post and it makes me sad that anything having to do with child safety can be controversial…it kinds of boils down to some people are total d*cks who cannot possible ever accept that maybe there is a better way of doing things.

  7. says

    Great post! I’m going to pass this one on to my mom who is always questioning why my 15 month old is still backwards in her car seat.

  8. says

    If one more person asks me why G is STILL facing rear at nearly two I might flip! She is safe, she doesn’t mind, that is all!

  9. Stephanie says

    Completely agree, Joanna! Patrick is small for his age, and I will keep him rear-facing for when he turns 2 and probably beyond. Gotta listen to the experts-they know best!