Rear-facing car safety seats are the safest way for children to ride in a vehicle therefore your goal should be to keep your child riding this way for as long as possible.
Rear-facing and convertible seats can be used for children from 22 to 50 pounds depending on the seat. Many infants will outgrow the length limits of a rear-facing only seat well before they reach the weight limits so be sure to check both.
When installing a rear-facing only car safety seat anchor the base of the seat using either the seat belt or the latch webbing and connectors. Then secure the base by pulling the belt tightly along the belt path.
If you can move the seat at the belt path more than one-inch side to side or front to back it is not tight enough. The lower anchors can be used with the latch webbing up to a maximum weight of 65 pounds. If the weight of the car safety seat plus the child exceeds 65 pounds you must use the vehicle seat belt.
All newer car safety seats have stickers stating the weight of the seat and the maximum weight of the child that can utilize the lower anchors.
Most seat belts have retractors that can be switched to always locking. If not then you might need to use a locking clip or built in lock off to keep the belt locked into position. Always follow all of the instructions in the car safety seat manual carefully.
For children in rear-facing car seats, the harness straps should be positioned so that they are at or below the child’s shoulders. This prevents the child’s body from sliding up the seatback during a crash and ensures the child’s head is protected by the hard shell of the car safety seat.
The harness should lie flat and be free of folds or twists. It needs to cross over the shoulders and legs and be equally snug across each part of the child’s body. When the harness is tight enough you will not be able to pinch any webbing between your fingers.
Always Check Proper Angel in Owner’s Manual:
It is important to have a rear-facing car safety seat at the correct angle to prevent your baby’s head from flopping forward.
The exact angle can vary depending on the specific model of the seat so it is important to read the instructions and understand how to determine that the reclined angle is correct.
All car safety seats have angle indicators and many newer seats have adjusters that can help achieve the correct angle. If your seat doesn’t have an angle adjuster you can install the car seat at the appropriate angle by putting under the base of the seat near the point where the back and bottom of the vehicle seat meet.
Many rear-facing seats come equipped with inserts that can position the baby in the seat.
For those that don’t you can roll a receiving blanket on each side of the baby’s head.
If the baby slumps down in the seat you can place a rolled washcloth between the crotch strap and the baby.
Never Place Padding Under or Behind Your Child:
Do not place padding under or behind your child or use any car seat insert that didn’t come as original equipment in the box with the car safety seat.
As they age it may seem like your toddler’s legs are squished when they are riding rear-facing but they actually have plenty of room sitting this way. Toddlers have lots of ways to make themselves comfortable and they will be perfectly happy riding with cross legs.
Foot and leg injuries are much more common when riding forward-facing rather than rear-facing.
Riding rear-facing also provides the best protection from frontal and side impacts. This position creates a cocoon effect and protects from blunt trauma and other injuries.
It is important to keep children in rear-facing seats for as long as possible because they are much safer than they would be in a forward-facing seat.