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The great transition

She is typically happy forward-facing, this day – not so much!

Last week we made a big change in Mary’s life – she is now riding forward-facing in her car seat!

She will be three in January so we’ve kept her rear-facing  past the new recommendation of two-years-old but were ready for the change.

For years I’ve been telling parents the steps to take when you switch from rear-facing to forward-facing, but it was really strange to be sitting in the back of my car running through those steps for myself.  Here is the run-down:

  • If your child is in a convertible seat (the kind that can convert from rear-facing to forward-facing) read the directions again.  You will need to convert the seat to forward-facing usually by changing the angle of the car seat to be more upright.  Some seats have a lever system, others have a leg that you would convert to change the angle.  When the child is forward-facing the seat should be fairly upright if not completely upright.  The directions will give you the specifics.
  • Make sure to use the proper belt path – generally the path closest to the back of the vehicle seat.  This belt path would be used by either the LATCH system or the seat belt.  Many seats not only mention this in their instructions but the labels on the seat also identify which belt path to use for which position. Using the right belt path will ensure a tighter fit.
  • When you put your child into the seat, the harness should be at or above the child’s shoulders.  This is a big change from rear-facing.
  • For forward-facing, the harness should still be snug and the chest clip should be at armpit level.

I’m a believer in keeping kids rear-facing, but this transition has given me a completely different child during car rides.  When Mary was rear-facing she was always so quiet in the car, now she’s signing the Itsy Bitsy Spider and the ABCs on every car ride.  She’s telling me “green means go” and “red means stop” and pointing out all of the school buses. This literal new view of life has been great – just hard to believe she is growing up so fast!

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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