My child has outgrown the rear facing car seat. How long should she ride forward facing?
After a child has outgrown the rear facing weight limit of his or her convertible seat, which is usually 30-45 pounds depending on the seat, the child must forward face.
We like to see children riding harnessed until between 5 and 6 years of age. At this age, there are some developmental things that happen in the pelvis which makes using a seatbelt much safer. In adults, the seat belt rides on part of the hip, called the iliac crest. It holds the belt out of the soft tissues of the stomach and prevents the belt from hurting internal organs in a crash. (seat belt syndrome) In order to be born and make it thru the birth canal, children have very narrow hips. This crest doesn’t begin to flare or widen until about age 5-6. When it does, it makes boosters safer to use. Before then, we would like to see kids stay harnessed. The American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP now recommends children use a harnessed seat until at least 4 years of age, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration NHTSA recommends children ages 4-7 ride in a harnessed seat until they outgrow it (according to guidelines a child less than 4 should always be in a harnessed seat).