Something that may seem like a minor decision in the long list of decisions parents make about their children's safety is when to turn their child car seat from rear-facing to forward-facing. While it may seem like a minor decision, it can actually significantly impact the well-being of your child in the unfortunate even of a car collision.
Lots of people raise their eyebrows when they find out my almost 2-year old is still rear-facing in her car seat and that I don't plan on turning her around anytime soon. Car seat safety is something that is ever-evolving, so the level of car seat safety "we grew up with" is vastly different than what we presently have.
While I *understand* on a certain level a parent's desire to turn their child around (kid hates facing backwards, they can see their child, they can recline the front seats further without car seat interference, etc.), I have been exposed to a lot of research that has convinced me to keep Gemma rear-facing as long as possible. There are "minimums" on car seats (ex. - Child must be AT LEAST one year of age AND ___lbs before turning around to be forward-facing. Weight minimums vary by manufacturer) and there are "maximums" on car seats as well. These are set by weight and height of the child according the specific car seat/manufacturer.
I prefer to keep Gemma rear-facing to the MAX in order to keep her as safe as possible for as long as possible. The truth is, if there were a way to keep every single person in the car rear-facing, there would be significantly fewer serious injuries and deaths due to collisions. Obviously, you can't drive a car while facing backwards so we do the best we can with safety. But the fact is, there is a lot we can do to keep our children as safe as possible while in a vehicle.
Gemma is only 21 lbs and petite all-around. I know 6 and 7 month olds who are that same weight and no parent would dream of putting their 7 month old forward-facing, so why would I put my child who is the same size as them forward-facing just because she's older?
The answer is, I wouldn't and I won't. As much as it can be an inconvenience for her and for us, her safety is more important than that. As parents, we do all kinds of things that are "inconvenient" for the sake of our child's health and well-being. How easy is it to brush your toddler's teeth? Or clip their nails? Or get your preschooler to eat all her vegetables? Or constantly monitor your baby while she's in the kiddie pool? Not all aspects of parenting are easy or fun, but when it comes to health and safety, no amount of sacrifice on our part is too much, if it keeps them safe.
Here's a quick video which does a good job of briefly discussing some of the major reasons to exercise the highest level of car seat safety. If you find it educational, I assure you, there are hours more that you can spend watching and reading up on car seat safety! :)