This summer, not one or two but THREE seats have now come out with new rear facing weight limits.
First Graco released its brand new My Ride seat. It rear faces to 40 pounds and forward faces to 65 pounds. It was the first seat to break the 35 pound rear facing weight limit and retails for around $150. It got pretty good reviews and looks like it will be tall enough to allow children to rear face until they are 3 or possibly 4 years old depending on the height of the child. One caveat to this seat is that it is very wide. If you need to fit multiple seats into your car, this seat could cause problems with that.
Next Safety 1st/Dorel released its Air Protect seat with a 40 pound rear facing limit and forward faces to 50 pounds. It retails for $250 and appears to have a narrower footprint than the My Ride. I have not seen this seat in person or spoken to anyone who has, although the side impact protection it provides looks impressive.
Within days, Sunshine kids released information that they had done additional crash testing and were raising their rear facing weight limit to 40 pounds as well. The extra bonus to this is that it is retroactive to seats manufactured during or after September 2008. The Radian rear faces to 40 pounds and forward faces to 65 pounds. CottonBabies sells the Radian for the best price I can find – $189. The Radian is also available in the Radian 80, which rear faces to 40 pounds and forward faces with harness to 80 pounds. It would be a good choice if you have a very solid kid. The Radian is the narrowest car seat on the market and is an excellent choice if you need to fit three seats/people across a car bench.
40 pounds will very soon be the new standard for rear facing weight limits. I am sure we will see more seats willing to undergo the extra crash testing to show that they are safe to 40 pounds. In the meantime, general safety and options for car seat safety are improving!
But can 40 pound kids really still ride rear facing? Won’t they be uncomfortable? For that information, I will leave you with this gallery of pictures of children over 1 year who are still rear facing happily. And here is CPSafety’s explanation of why rear facing provides unparalleled protection for your children.
I didn’t think I could stand to keep my kids rear facing longer than the one year required by law, but after viewing a forward facing crash test and a rear facing crash test, I knew I could find a way to make it work. And so far, at nearly 2 years old, Lily is still rear facing without complaint. She has a great view out the window and keeps herself busy in the car listening to music and talking.