Research has shown that rear-facing children between the ages of 1 and 2 years old are 5 times safer than forward-facing children (Facing Car Safety Seats: Getting the Message Right, Pediatrics 2008). A rear-facing car seat supports the entire head, neck, and back in most crashes. The restraint cradles and moves with the child, reducing stress to the neck and spinal cord.
Children should remain rear-facing until they reach the height or weight limits stated in the instructions of a convertible car seat. You must stop using your infant car seat when your child reaches the specified weight limits or when the top of your child's head comes within one inch of the top of the car seat. At that point, you should move your child to a convertible seat with higher rear-facing weight and height limits.
At a minimum, children must be over 1 year old, weigh over 22 pounds, and be at least 34 inches tall, before riding forward-facing in Dorel car seats.
If my child’s feet touch the seatback, will her legs be injured in a crash?
Research shows that lower-extremity injuries (feet, ankles, legs, etc.) are rare for children facing the rear, on the order of 1 per 1000 children. The same research shows that facing forward does not eliminate a child’s risk of lower-extremity injuries, but that head and spine injuries are more common when facing forward. Practical experience has shown that children can be comfortable riding with their legs folded. (Rear-Facing Car Safety Seats: Getting the Message Right, Pediatrics 2008).