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Ask the Pediatrician

Dr. Jennifer Shu and her team of pediatricians answer your health questions.

Dr. Jennifer Shu

Question & Answer

Question

How long should my daughter be rear-facing in her car seat? When can I turn her car seat forward?

Answer

By: Claire McCarthy, MD, FAAP

For at least the first two years of life, it's safest for your daughter to be rear-facing in her car seat. Before two years, the head is a big part of the body and the muscles of the neck aren't very strong; when babies are front-facing, the risk of head and neck injuries (which can be very serious and cause lifelong damage) in a crash is much higher.

I say "for at least the first two years of life," because although it's okay to put your daughter in a front-facing car seat when she turns two, you don't have to; it's fine for her to continue to be rear-facing as long as she hasn't outgrown the manufacturer's weight or height limits for the seat.

Additional Information:  

 

About Dr. McCarthy:

Claire McCarthy, MD, FAAP is a primary care pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, a senior editor for Harvard Health Publications, and an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Along with serving on the HealthyChildren.org Editorial Advisory Board, she writes about health and parenting for Boston.com and Huffington Post. 

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