What Is the Age & Weight Requirement for Children in Forward Facing Car Seats?

By Liz Tomas
D not use a forward facing car seat until the child is the proper age or weight.
D not use a forward facing car seat until the child is the proper age or weight.

Of the several types of car seat available, the two most common are the rear facing and the forward facing. The car and size of your child dictate which to use. Rear facing car seats are for infants and toddlers. Once the child reaches a specific size then she can be in a forward facing seat. Federal law says all passengers must wear a restraint but states vary in the specific.

Age

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidelines for parents on car seat usage, saying once a child is 2 years old he can use a forward facing seat that has a harness. If you are using a convertible car seat then change the seat from rear facing to forward.

The age of 2 is a general recommendation. Smaller children will need to wait until they have grown before using the forward facing seat, so your child may be 2 1/2 or 3 before he can fit into the forward facing seat. Consider the age specification as a guideline.

Weight

Forward facing seats fit children that weigh 40 to 80 lbs.The minimum weight in which children can use forward facing seats is 20 lbs. Different models will have different weight requirements. Do not use the seat in a forward facing position until your child reaches the required weight. As long as the child is within the 40 to 80 lbs. range a harness must accompany the child's car seat, says the AAP.

Greater Weight

A child can use the forward facing car seat as a booster seat if she weighs between 80 and 100 lbs. In this weight bracker the seat harness drops off and the car's normal seat belt fastens around the car seat and the child. When the child is larger than 100 lbs., or the specified weight by the seat manufacturer, a booster seat is not necessary.

Height

A child could become too tall for the rear facing seat. In this case see if the headrest is adjustable or if you can add a head rest. Most car seats use weight as the important factor hough if the child has become too tall she can use the forward facing seat. Seats do not come with height requirements but this is also important for a proper sized car seat.

About the Author

Liz Tomas began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in the "American Journal of Enology and Viticulture," "BMC Genomics" and "PLoS Biology." She holds a Master of Science in food science from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in oenology at Lincoln University.