This week we made the decision to turn K's car seat forward. She is 21 months old, approx. 26 lbs and 33-34 inches long.
Some may be saying, "how dare you?!?!". And some may be saying, "What the eff took you so long?". I really struggled with this decision. I watched the youtube videos, read the articles, heeded the new recommendations of the AAP I was committed to keeping her rear facing as long as possible. I figured she wouldn't hit the maximums of her car seat until at least 2, 2 1/2 years of age.
She didn't hate it, but didn't love it either. Getting her into the car was a massive struggle. I had cried in frustration more then once, sitting in the back seat as she stiffened her legs, threw her back out and tried to slither out and onto the back seat. Once she was sitting, she was fine. For about 20 minutes. IF I fed her a constant stream of crackers. We would chat through her mirror, which she loved. If both my husband and I were in the car, she would get upset if we talked to each other, but not to her. Anything longer then 20 minutes required the use of an ipod video and/or children's CD on constant rotation.
And then last weekend I had to turn her seat forward so as to accommodate my niece's car seat, who I was transporting for the morning. And miracle of miracles. She climbed into her seat BY HERSELF. She giggled and tried to pass crackers to her cousin. They held hands. I could retrieve her toys and pass them to her without dislocating a shoulder trying to get around the shell of the car seat.I left it for a few days because my husband was out of town and I didn't trust my installation skills. And she continued to be a pleasant passenger. I no longer feared making small stops at the store (or multiple stops!) for fear of trying to get her back into the car once she was out.
So at 21 months, I have moved her forward facing. I feel like a quitter, and someone who is sacrificing my child's safety just for convenience. But I do appreciate the calm that is the car ride home now. And since we are in the car together 45-60 minutes a day, that is not a small piece of the pie.
Although the downside? She has become a back seat driver: "No mommy, go THAT way." Every 10 minutes. Even if "that way" is into a field of trees.
But I urge you ALL to read and review the above links and make an informed decision for your own child. I don't judge anyone who decides to forward face (people in glass houses, after all), but I do encourage everyone to at least consider extended rear facing. In short, do as I say, not as I do :)