Here is the reason for the current recommendations:
Nowadays, most carseats have higher weight limits for both rear-facing and for using the harness in general. Most carseats have a rear-facing limit of 35-40 lbs and a harness limit of 65-80 lbs. J's carseat is the Evenflo Triumph Advance which has a weight limit of 40 lbs for rear-facing and 65 lbs for usage of the seat forward-facing. Here's how I see things...
The whole point of a carseat is to protect a child's life in the event of a car accident. No, the reason for the current recommendations is not some crazy conspiracy of carseat manufacturers to keep people spending money as many like to believe. That said, why not do everything in your power to make sure the seat is used the best way possible in order to protect your child? No matter how safely you drive, there are always crazy people on the road and accidents do happen. So yes, I will keep J rear-facing at least until he is 2 unless he maxes out the height or weight limit of his seat to do so much to the annoyance or chagrin of others. And yes, I will keep J in a harness for a long time too rather than move him to a booster seat the minute he turns 3 as some of my friends do.
So here are a few important things to also keep in mind when it comes to carseat safety:
- Carseats have expiration dates! Over time, the plastic does break down which will eventually inhibit the ability of the seat to protect your child. Generally the expiration date is 5-6 years after manufacturing date and it is now printed somewhere on the seat (usually on bottom).
- Heavy winter coats should not be used with a carseat. It causes compression in the case of an accident and your child can fly right out of the harness.
- Carseats are supposed to be replaced if you get into a car accident because unseen damage can occur that will cause the carseat to not do its job in any other accidents.
- And as I already blogged about, rear-facing til at least 2 is no recommended. BTW, I give J some toys and play his music in the car and he's perfectly happy RF because he has no idea that there is another way :)
My little man is perfectly content to be RF in the carseat :)