Rear Facing Til Two and Beyond

My SUV After My Daughter & I Survived a Multi-Rollover Wreck

You’ve seen this picture before on this website, when I went into great detail about the rollover wreck my daughter and I survived.  It probably comes as no surprise to you that I was an outspoken advocate for car seat safety before, and became vociferous afterward.  All the research I’d read when my girl was a baby suggested we keep her rear-facing at least until she was two, regardless of whether our state only mandated rear-facing til one (it did and does), so that’s what we did.  Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is “on the bus”, as they say, and last week issued new recommendations for car seat safety.  I asked NHTSA’s David Strickland to tell me about the new recs…

So your kids should stay rear-facing til at least two, and longer, if you can manage it.  Many families manage it for a very long time!


Some parents say they have to turn their kids when their legs grow beyond the seat.  Clearly that is not true.  If your child is within the height and weight restrictions of their seat, they should be fine.  Those restrictions will be in your car seat manual.  They can sit like this cutie, or indian style, but even if you’re afraid this kind of position will lead to broken legs in a wreck, I would suggest broken legs are far preferable to a broken neck.

Some parents say they have to turn their kids even before they’re one because they are simply miserable rear-facing.  This little girl sure looks unhappy, right?

The NHTSA’s Strickland feels your pain, but he says our kids are unhappy when we take them for their vaccinations and they’re often veeeery unhappy when we suggest they eat their brussels sprouts.  But we do these things because they need to be done.  We do these things because it’s our job to keep our kids safe.

There are some things your might try to make your rear facing child *less* miserable.  You could have a special box of just-for-the-car toys and books.  If you rotate different toys and books in and out, there is a *slight* possibility they’ll be less unhappy.  You could get your child a mirror so they aren’t restricted to only seeing what’s in the past.  They could look at you and what’s coming up!

You could also get used to the idea that sometimes they’ll be unhappy.  Guess what?  Even forward facing, sometimes, your child is going to be unhappy in the car.  My daughter likes to overshare that her car seat makes her bum hurt.  Maybe it does, but she’s not getting out of it.  No way, no how.  Especially after that wreck.

Here are some car seat installation tips from the NHTSA.  You can find an expert to check your work at  You can find your state’s laws re: car seats here, but I, as a parent, am much more interested in what the American Academy of Pediatrics had to say, and now what the NHTSA has to say.  The laws will follow, but lawmakers are notorious slow-pokes.

Safe driving!  🙂




  1. melinda stanley says:

    While your theories of safety are good and all, you do forget that the most common reason medically to turn a child around have nothing to do with sitting pretty indian style or the fact that the child is unhappy. It has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that children can get blood clots in their legs (which as you know can travel to other parts of the body such as your brain, lungs, or even your heart). And if such a blood clot developes and travels, what happens then. Do you put your child on the rigorous amounts of blood thinners to get rid of it or let nature take its course and hope for the best that the clot doesn’t burst and kill or harm your child in any other way.

    Would you really be willing to put your own child at risk for something that could be potentially fatal all because you deem it unnecessary to turn them around all because you think they’ll be unhappy?

    AAP and you yourself have so many theories and holes in your story. I myself have been in one fatal car crash with my two older children (then 3 and 1) who were both forward facing and they have had no damage at all to their bodies. Not even a scratch.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your accident your loss/es, and grateful for the blessed survival of your three and one-year-old babies. I do want to say, however, that — as you probably know — DVT is not really a risk on short trips. Even a long trip with a toddler should include *many* stops to allow them to stretch their legs and go to the bathroom, thus minimizing, if not eliminating, the opportunity for clots to form.


  3. I remember when this happened! Very horrible! I am so glad that you and Aid are ok. The wreckage is hard to look at.

    Our Corinne will remain rear facing until its time for her to turn around. Our pediatrician recommended that if the rear facing position becomes a really big problem, then maybe we could consider turning her around. However, he strongly advises against it as most children are ok to sit rear facing until the age of 2.

    Better safe than sorry.


  1. […] Also, the NHTSA recommends you keep your infant rear facing in their car seat for as long as possible, but certainly at least until they are two. There is much more information, including an interview with NHTSA Adminitrator David Strickland here. […]

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