Monkey turned 3 last October (6 months ago! what?!), and we made the big switch to a forward-facing car seat position shortly after that. He had reached 34 lbs with a limit of his "older generation" Britax Marathon Classic (in Onyx pattern) being 35 pounds for rear-facing. It's the seat he rides in most often in Trey's truck. He also has an amazing Britax Boulevard in my 4Runner that we absolutely love! Who could not love CowMOOflage!
So what was the big deal about turning him forward-facing in the car? Well... it's a fun, exciting change, but it comes with risks and there are certain things that change when buckling up your little forward-facing sweetie. First off - follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to safely install the seat forward-facing. Make sure to install the tether system to help protect your little guy or gal. The tether is important rear-facing, too but I feel it is even more important when forward-facing!
The tether system is a series of straps behind the seat that help lock the seat to the car and prevent injury (especially head injury) by reducing the amount of movement of the seat and diverting crash forces to a larger area of the seat and away from your child. The tether system, harness and seat belt work together to prevent excessive forward motion of your child's head (think prevention of major whiplash or even worse).
When converting to forward-facing it is also important to note that the location of the shoulder harness straps change. Instead of the straps being at or below the shoulders, now the straps must be at or above the shoulders.
Chunky at 2 years old and a little under 27lbs remains rear-facing in his Britax Marathon and Boulevard. He will be rear-facing until at least 3 years old just like his big brother!
I included this "by the numbers" information in my previous post, but I think everyone should read it:
1. Children outgrow their rear-facing seats when reaching either the weight-limit of the seat or when there is ONE inch of room between the top of the child's head and the top of the car seat's shell. How do you tell? Check out this how-to properly measure from car-seat.org. There are a few exceptions to this rule so always check out your seat's safety manual to learn the particulars for your individual seat.
2. TWO years of age AND 30 pounds is the "new" recommendation for how long to keep a child rear-facing. You can go longer until you reach the limit of the car safety seat.
3. My boys will be at least THREE years old before I turn their car seats to forward-facing. At the rate they are currently growing, they will probably not reach 30 pounds until then. We turned Monkey slightly after his third birthday.
4. The British Medical Journal published a study indicating that children should ride rear-facing until age FOUR to reduce head, neck and chest injuries.
5. FIVE-point harnesses spread out the force of a crash over a larger area of the body when compared to a belt-positioning booster. It is recommended to keep a child in a 5-point harness until at least 4 years of age and 40 pounds. FIVE or six years of age is even better for most kids.