The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children ride rear-facing in their car seats as long as possible. Because rear-facing is the safest option for growing children whose skeletal systems are still developing, be sure to maximize the height or weight limits of the seat. According to the AAP, "this will include virtually all children under 2 years of age and most children up to age 4."1
Children are flexible. What seems cramped to you is not necessarily uncomfortable for a toddler.
Since kids' bones and joints aren't fully developed yet, they're much more flexible than adults. Even though riding rear-facing longer may require them to cross or prop up their legs, these seating positions are no big deal to a flexible toddler and allow for crucial protection of the head, neck and spine.2
When rear-facing, a child's head, neck and spine are all supported by the car seat during an accident.
LATCH vs. Seatbelt
When installing a car seat in your vehicle, you can use either the vehicle seat belt or LATCH system. (LATCH stands for "lower anchors and tethers for children.") Both methods are equally safe, so choose the one that gives you a confident, tight and secure fit. Check the owner's manual for your vehicle and your child's car seat for details and specific instructions. For forward-facing car seats, always supplement your installation with the top tether.3
LATCH installation is only approved up to a certain weight. Refer to the labels/manual for your child's car seat and switch to seat belt installation when the time comes.
The Inch Test
To ensure your installation is secure, do the "inch test" by giving the car seat/base a tug forward and from side to side. If it moves more than one inch in any direction, uninstall and start over.4
If you have questions or want hands-on assistance, SafeKids.org can help you find a car seat checkup event in your area or contact a local child passenger safety technician (CPST). You can also get in touch with a nearby CPST via www.nhtsa.gov.
Chicco Fit2 Car Seat - Installing LATCHLearn how to install LATCH with your Fit2 base
Chicco Fit2 Car Seat - Installing with a seat beltLearn how to install the Fit2 base using the lap and shoulder belt
Did you know?
Check the seat for a label or imprint indicating the date of expiration. Often it's 6-10 years after its date of manufacture.5