All major health and safety organizations strongly recommend that kids under age 2 ride rear facing. Scientists, statisticians and child passenger safety advocates agree on the immense safety benefit of rear facing to very young spines.
In recent months we have welcomed two new seats from Safety 1st: the Grow and Go, and the Advance EX 65 Air +. Both of these seats are innovative: the Grow and Go replaced the widely panned Alpha Omega with a seat that functions well in all three modes (rear facing, forward facing, and booster), and the Advance Ex 65 is a truly long lasting seat with generous rear facing maximums of 50 lbs and 49″.
The Cosco Apt40 has been around for some time now and made a name for itself as a great budget seat. It had a major limitation in that once outgrown rear facing, it was outgrown forward facing as well. The new Cosco Apt50 has fixed that issue. Let’s see how the Apt50 stacks up its predecessor.
Graco has a few convertible seats that we find ourselves recommending on a fairly regular basis. They’re all basically the same seat: The Size4Me, MySize and Fit4Me and the similar Head Wise. These seats all have a long-lasting range of fit to child; they rear face until the child’s head is within one inch of the top of the red handle at the headrest — when that headrest is fully extended.
Rear facing is the safest way for kids to ride in the car, no doubt about it. Ideally, kids should ride rear facing until they are 3-4 years old. Most convertible car seats on the market now will easily fit the average 3-year-old rear facing, however, all seats are not created equal in terms of height room. A rear facing seat is generally outgrown when the child’s head is 1″ from the top of the shell or they reach a stated height limit (of course, there are exceptions to both these rules; it’s important to follow the instructions for your specific seat) so the height of the shell is an important number to take into consideration.
If you’re looking for just the facts about rear facing versus forward facing, you’ve come to the right place. There are multiple factors involved in this discussion; the unique physiology of a young toddler combined with the type of force in the most severe crashes adds up to the perfect storm that puts kids at significant risk if they are forward facing too early.