Saturday, May 28, 2011

Car Seat Dilemma

There's been a lot of press recently about keeping children rear-facing in car seats longer. The statistic that is most powerful for me from the New York Times article is that "children under 2 are 75 percent less likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries in a crash if they are facing the rear." More and more often I am reading recommendations that you leave your child rear-facing until they reach the height and weight limits of your particular car seat. Depending on which car seat you buy, that can easily be until your child is four or five years old.

I had read similar recommendations when I was researching moving Michael from his infant seat to a convertible car seat back in 2008. At that time, I decided to buy the Radian 80 car seat because it would allow us to keep Michael in a five point harness until he was 80 pounds!! It also had the highest weight and height limits for rear-facing. Well, he's three and a half years old and still rear-facing. Ava is a little over two and she's rear-facing as well.

All of a sudden it occurred to me that I'd better check those height and weight limits, because I simply hadn't thought about it for a long time. We were just going on autopilot. Well, as it turns out, the weight limit for rear-facing on our model is 35 pounds. Michael currently weighs 33 pounds.

We have two choices. We can turn his car seat around. He'll remain in the car seat forward-facing in the five point harness until he's 80 pounds. That's a really long time. Or we can buy the newest version of the Radian 80 which has increased its weight limit for rear-facing to 45 pounds. That's the highest available in the US. The 50th percentile for 45 pounds is 5 1/2 years old. Buying the new seat would allow us to keep Michael rear-facing for at least another year and probably longer.

It's safer. We don't mind having him rear-facing. He doesn't mind being rear-facing. His sister is rear-facing and it is convenient to have them both facing the same direction. Pretty much the only negative is having to buy a new, very expensive car seat when I didn't expect I'd need to.

  1. What do you think about the new recommendations to keep children rear-facing until at least 2 years of age and preferably to the weight limits of your car seat (depending on the seat, until your child is five years old)?
  2. Do you think keeping Michael rear-facing for at least another year is worth buying a new Radian?


  1. If your Radian was manufactured after September 2008 then it has been retroactively changed to 40 lbs rear facing. My son rear faced until 3.5. My little one is still RF at 2.5.

  2. Anonymous, whoever you are, you are amazing.

    You just bought me at least 6 months (I hope). Ava wasn't even born until March of 2009, so one of our two Radians was definitely manufactured after September of 2008. Michael even ended up in the newer one although I can't remember now why. We don't even have to switch them. Now that I know about the retroactive change it turns out that Michael in is a seat that is good to 40 lbs while Ava is in the seat that is good to 35 lbs. That works out perfectly.

    Thanks again for telling me! You'd never run across the change online unless you know exactly what to search for.

  3. Your welcome! I read your post daily and look forward to them. My 2.5 year old was recently diagnosed with a motor speech disorder. I also have a 4 year old. Two boys close in age so I totally identify with your kiddos! In case you're not positive on the dates it is stamped somewhere on the shell. Not sure where since we traded our Radian in for a Frontier 85 when our oldest son reached the limit RF.

    Sarah P.

  4. Thanks again, Sarah for the tip about the Radian. One of our two Radians has the higher weight limit. It is a relief and I never would have known about it without you.

    Sorry to hear about your younger boy's recent diagnosis. Good luck with getting services for him and let me know if there's anything I can do for you.


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