When Can You Forward Face a Car Seat?

Car seats are essential for every parent until their children attain the age and height where they are eligible to use the adult seat belt. A booster seat can be used as an alternative when a child is too big to fit into a car seat but too small for the adult seat belt. When can a baby face forward in a car seat is a concern that parents and caregivers have to address from the minute they set out to buy one.

infant car seat

Credit: Consumer Reports

Rear-facing car seats are safer than frontal facing ones because of the prevalence of forward crashes as compared to those that happen from the back. Also, a collision from the rear has lesser force since the two cars are traveling in the same direction.

Additionally, the distance between possible points of impact and the child are far apart. This makes rear-facing car seats safer than those that face the front.

Typically, rear-facing car seats are ideal for children at their infant and toddler stage. This aspect is essential and parents ought to pay attention to it. The transition from rear to forward-facing has to be done at an appropriate age, or as directed by the manufacturer of the car seat to minimize chances of injuring the baby.

Before the age of two, harnesses and the design of frontal facing seats may cause head, neck, and spinal injury to the child.

Transition to a forward-facing car seat has to be done when the child is of age or when their weight and height dictate that this action is necessary. To rule out the many misconceptions regarding rear-facing car seats, parents need understand the different types of car seats in the market.

Manufacturers in this business offer an array of options each with unique features. One should be able to know what they are looking for to buy the best. There are three types of car seats in the market. They are;


The rear-facing car seat is the standard type needed for newborns until they attain a certain age. It ought to be fixed in the back seat of the car facing the back. Sometimes, people fit it in the front seat, but this move is not recommended. There are various kinds of rear-facing car seats, and one should acquire one that fits their needs and that of their kids. The assortment availed by manufacturers include;

Rear-facing only car seat – this design is small and comes with a carrying handle. A detachable base allows for it to be fitted on the seat of the car. If more than one car is used by the family, more bases can be bought. This car seat is only ideal for traveling. Any other use such as feeding or sleeping outside the vehicle is not recommended. Important to note is that, not all seats in this category have detachable bases. Some brands do not have this feature. It is vital to check this characteristic before buying a specific brand.

Convertible seat – this design comes with an array of options for caregivers. It allows for conversion from rear to forward-facing when the time is right. They are bigger than the rear-facing only seats but cannot be carried around because the base is non-detachable and it has no handles either. This type of car seats are ideal for travel only, and any other use is highly discouraged.

Three in one seatmodels that incorporate this design can be used in different ways. They can face the rear, front, or used as a booster. The main advantage of this type of car seat is that your child can use it for an extended period.

Before purchase, one should confirm that they fit in their car while facing the rear owing to their large size. Unfortunately this type of seat is limited to car use only as they do not come with bases that can be removed or handles to carry them around.

Booster – this type of car seat comes in handy when a child has outgrown the toddler seat but cannot use the adult seats in the car. It is used in a forward-facing position due to its bulk. It comes with a set of harnesses that can be used to secure the child in the seat. The car’s seat belt can also be used when using this type of car seat.

Forward Facing Car Seat Regulations

Other than instructions provided by car seat manufacturers regarding the use of their products, caregivers ought to ensure that they are within forward-facing car seat regulations (focus on USA). Most of the rules set for seats in this category are made by the federal government, but it does not end there. Individual states have added regulations that one must abide by. Some of the laws by state are;


Booster seats are to be used up to when the child is six years

Convertible seats in forward-facing position or forward-facing seats are to be used until the child is at least forty pounds of five years of age.

A child passenger restraint system that meets outlined regulations must be used at all times when using the car until the child is six years of age.


Children who are older than four years old but less than eight weighing more than twenty pounds but less than sixty-five and are under fifty-seven inches in height must be properly secured in a booster seat or any other type that has been approved by the federal government as an ideal child passenger restraint system.

If a child is older than four years old but under 8 years of age but goes beyond the tallness and mass requirements in the previous paragraph, they may be secured by a seatbelt.

Once the child attains the age of eight, if they do not exceed the weight and height requirements, it is up to the driver to decide whether it’s ideal to let the child ride in the seatbelt or to keep using another federally approved child safety device.


All children who are under eight years of age and who are not more than four feet nine inches tall are to be restrained in a correctly installed child restraint system

The above are some of the laws that caregivers in the respective states ought to follow to the letter. Matters of age, height, and weight must be factored in when buying and using a car seat in all states.

Recommendations from sources on the wide web may not be in tandem with the regulations in one’s jurisdiction. It is, therefore, necessary to go through forward-facing car seat regulations in your locality before use. Other factors that will affect a parent’s choice of a car seat are;

  • Age of the child
  • Compatibility with your vehicle
  • Pricing
  • Lifestyle
  • Size of the child
  • Installation


Before acquiring a car seat, it is essential to consult a certified child passenger safety technician for guidelines on the minimum standards that one should meet.

For children with special transportation needs, the parent or caregiver should shop for a seat that is appropriate for their needs. For some, it may be necessary to request for customization.

Installation must be done with utmost care to cancel out malfunction risks. It is essential to read through the manual that comes with the seat to ensure proper installation. An inch test can also be done to confirm that the seat is securely in place.

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