Child car seats have a set of weight and height limits for each mode that your child should not exceed. However, there is no rush to switch modes before your child meets the weight or height limit. Our CPST, Scott, explains why.
Experts advise rear-facing for longer, as it's the safest way for them to travel until they reach the full height or weight capacity of their seat as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and NHTSA. Why is that? Well, frontal-collisions are the most common type of crash and in such an event, a forward-facing child would be thrust forward away from the back seat towards the point of impact. Some states have laws requiring that kids ride rear-facing until the age of two. Diono seats offer the advantage of extended rear-facing to 50 lbs so don’t be in a hurry to turn them forward-facing!
Forward-facing children should stay in the five-point harness until they reach the maximum height or weight limits of their car seat, or until they can safely ride in a booster seat with a properly fitting seat belt. In a crash a harnessed car seat will direct crash forces away from your child while the harness system restrains them and keeps them contained within the safety of the seat shell.
If your child is approaching the height or weight limit of their forward-facing harnessed seat, it’s time to start considering the switch to booster mode or getting a dedicated booster. Most booster seats have a minimum weight requirement of 40 lbs but don’t be in a hurry to make the switch. Just remember that a minimum requirement isn’t always the safest. Most kids won’t be mature enough for a booster until they reach five years of age. They’ll need to stay properly seated for the entire ride so the adult seat belt stays correctly positioned on them. For some kids that level of maturity will come later than five years old.