The general rule of thumb among parents seems to be to that a child is kept rear facing in the car seat until age one, then flipped forward facing as soon as the birthday cake icing is wiped off their little toddler face. It seems many pediatricians still subscribe to that train of thought as well, despite the American Academy of Pediatrics recently changing their recommendations. A's pediatrician was ambivalent on the matter when I brought it up at his nine month appointment, leaving me with enough lingering concern to do some independent research to decide for myself what was safest. While I consider A's pediatrician the boss when it comes to diagnosing infection and tracking developmental milestones, most pediatricians do NOT receive a whole lot of schooling on less scientific matters like car seat safety and sleep, and typically advise from their personal experience instead of their education or scientific studies. As per usual, the all-knowing Nesties had access to the information I needed and convinced me that as much as I'd love to be able to see A's sweet little face while on the road, there were some serious (and possibly life-saving!) benefits to keeping his seat rear facing at least until he turns two. (And after that, keeping him in a 5-point harness safety seat for as long as his weight allows.) Because there seems to be some confusion: I'm NOT talking about keeping your 1+ year old child confined to the infant (carrier) seat. I'm referring to the safety seats commonly referred to as "convertible seats" that have the ability to hold a child rear or forward facing (like the Britax Boulevard you see the February version of Mister A in here).
I encourage my readers to do some research if you haven't already. Watch the following videos and click on the links. I'm not intending to sound like a know-it-all, since I'm still a newbie mommy learning as I go along. But I do care about my many mommy friends and the safety of their sweet babies, so sharing this information feels important to me. If this might help someone decide to keep their child rear facing a while longer....mission accomplished.
If nothing else, consider this fact: children under age two are 75% less likely to be killed or suffer severe injuries in a crash if they are riding rear facing rather than forward facing. In fact, for children 1-2 years of age, facing the rear is five times safer. (Pediatrics Journal, 2008)
A "12-month old" rear facing: