Types of Rear-Facing Car Seats
There are two main types of rear-facing car seats:
- Rear-facing-only car seat that may have a 3-point harness or 5-point harness. Many models have a detachable base. Some models require using the base.
- Rear-facing convertible car seats have a 5-point harness.
Rear-Facing-Only Car Seats
- Always check the car seat label for the starting weight. Some car seats are labeled as “birth” and others are labeled for a specific weight
- In general, the top of the child’s head should be well contained within the shell and at least 1 inch from top of shell. Some manufacturer instructions state otherwise so be sure to check the car seat manual
- The harness needs to be snug and hold the child down in the seat so he/she does not slide up in a crash and suffer ejection from the car. Harness straps should emerge from the shell at or below the child’s shoulders unless the manufacturer instructions state otherwise
- Caregivers should NEVER use the rear-facing seat above the height or weight limits designated by the manufacturer. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing-only car seat, he or she should move to a rear-facing convertible seat with rear-facing height and weight limits. This information may be difficult to determine by simply checking labels. Check the manual for more complete information
Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seat
- Many new convertible car seats are approved for rear-facing use up to 40+ pound children. Some seats exceed these weights and should be considered for children whose weight and/or height have exceeded the limits of the rear-facing-only car seat
- Children commonly sit with their legs crossed or resting on the back of the vehicle seat. Risk of injury to legs in a crash is low and injuries to the lower extremities are usually less severe with fewer long-term complications (AAP Technical Report, March 2011)
- Although older children with poor head control and other children with special needs are within height and weight requirements of a car seat, they benefit from staying rear-facing as long as possible. In a crash, all children are safer rear-facing as long as their car seat allows