I am in no way bashing anybody. I LOVE it when parents ask me questions. Please, ASK AWAY!! I would never bash anybody for asking.
I spend a lot of my time helping families make informed decisions about car seat usage. I hear a lot of the same excuses as to why people don't follow BEST PRACTICE recomendations. So here they are, all laid out, with my response to them.
I had to turn my baby forward facing at 10 months because his legs were touching the back of the seat. Legs touching the back of the seat are not a safety concern. There are no reported cases of a child injuring any part of their leg while rear-facing in a properly installed car seat. But even if that was a legitimate possibility, would you rather have a broken leg or a broken neck?
Not only is this not a safety concern, it isn't really a comfort concern either. Children are very limber and flexible. Watch how they sit on the floor or couch to play or watch TV. Generally, they have their legs tucked up or under them. Rear-facing toddlers will naturally properly their legs up, fold the in their laps, hang them over the side, or find other ways of being comfortable. Why choose comfort over safety?
My Doctor told me it was okay to Forward Face. Unless the doctor is also a certified car seat technician, he has no business giving out car seat advice. He should be following what the AAP says about car seats, and that is it is safest to stay rear-facing to the limits of the covnertible car seat, but at minimum, 1 year AND (not or) 20-23lbs, depending on the seat. Doctors are not required to take any car seat safety courses. You are better off finding a certified car seat tech who is up to date on his courses and certification.
My baby is too heavy for his infant seat, so we put him Forward Facing. Three words, CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT. After the baby outgrows the infant seat, they go rear-facing in a convertible car seat. (With the right convertible, you can skip the ifnant seat all together!) Convertible seats in the US will rear-facing to 30, 33, or 35lbs, and then forward face to 40, 50, 65, or 80lbs, depending on the model. For Rear-Facing, there must also be at least 1 inch of hard shell above the childs head. After the child has outgrown either height or weight, then you turn forward facing.
Everything in life is dangerous. You can't keep them in a bubble. You are being over-protective. I won't live in fear. Thefact of the matter is, car accidents are the #1 killer of kids in the US over the age of 1, and the #2 killer of babies under a year. This is a situation that warrants being over-protective. Sure, we cannot protect our kids from every conceivable danger. Some things are just unavoidable. But car seat safety is something every parent can do, with very little effort, to keep their kids as protected as possible. I don't want to be afraid every time we get in the car. So my daughter rides rear-facing as long as possible, because it has been proven to be the best way to protect her. Period. She isn't kept in a bubble. She plays in the mud, splashes through puddles, does gymnastics, rides a bike, climbs trees, plays in the fast food play structures, and occasionally eats a fast food hamburger.
I wasn't in a car seat when I was a kid and I survived. Once again, this is the #1 killer of kids in the US. You and I may have been "just fine" but there are thousands upon thousands who did not survive, and hundreds more each year who keep dying because they were not properly restrained. When you know better, you do better. We have a lot more information now that can help to keep us and our children safe. Why not use it?
My 8 year old would be humiltiated if I made her sit in a booster seat. None of her friends are in one. Since when do we make safety decisions for our children based on what others will thiink of them? If your 8 year old does not fit properly in the adult seat belt, she could be seriously injured or killed from the adult seat belt. And then what will you say? "Sorry hunny, a booster seat would have saved you from having your internal organs mangled, but it wasn't cool for you to be in one." Or how about "Sorry hunny, you are never going to walk again due to a spinal cord injury that a booster seat would have prevented, but none of the other kids were wearing one."
I am a very safe driver. I've never been in an accident before. You may be the best driver in the world, but you are putting your childs life in the hands of every other driver on the road. You have no idea if they have been drinking, if they are on medications, if they are talking or texting on a cell phone, if they are going on 38 hours without sleep, and so on. You cannot know where these people are at, or if they will swerve into your lane just at the moment you are driving by. Even the best drivers in the world can be killed by another irresponsible driver when they least expect it.
My child screams and cries when I put him in his car seat. Usually this is a phase that kids go through from about 10 months until around 18 months. One of the main reasons is boredom. A few suggestions to solve this problem while keeping your child safe. You can get special soft toys and books to keep in the car that he only gets to play with while in the car. Childrens music is a great way to entertain little ones, and teach them language skills at the same time.. Adjusting the angle of the car seat might help as well. For older children who have good head control the seat can as upright as 30 degrees. Some kids can be car sick, in which case there are homeopathic remedies for car sickness that are worth exploring before turning FF.
My 9 month old is the size of a 2 year old and is physicall advanced. He may be big and advanced, but his spinal column is still a long ways away from being developed enough to handle the impact of a front facing crash. Becaue his head is so big, he is actually at an even greater risk of being internally decapitated.