Question How long will you ERF - 3, 4, or 5 years old?



I searched for this answer online and have been unable to find the safest top age for ERF. Since so many of you have a wealth of knowledge about this topic - how long have you or will you be rear facing your children?

Is aiming for 4 or 5 excessive or responsible? Is there much of a difference between 4 and 5? Any reason to go to 6?

At some height/weight/age does it actually become more dangerous for them to be rearfacing?


Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
You're asking some great questions.

Four is the NHTSA's recommendation. So hardly excessive.

There is no upper age at which rear facing becomes dangerous. So if you make it to four and your child still fits, you can keep going. And going, and going. The only limit is the limit of the seat you have.



Well-known member
Hi! Welcome :) I hope you'll stick around for a while!

I used to turn them at the limits of the seats. So for my oldest kids that was 22lbs (around 18mo). Then 30lbs (around 2.5). Then I got 40 & 45lb RF seats. I turned #6 FF at 4yo so she couldn't kick the people next to her :rolleyes: even though she still fit in the Radian. #7 is a peanut -- 26lbs at 3yo. I expect she'll RF longer. As for #8, I'm looking forward to seeing what cool seats will be available in 2-3 years when she's 3-4yo :D.


New member
I think I will turn DD2 at 4 when she outgrows her current seats rf. There are seats I could buy to rf longer, but if these work until 4, I think I will be ok with that. I keep looking at seats that would get her to 5 or 6 though so I may change my mind. 4 is my minimum age for her.


New member
We went until the limits of the biggest seat available to buy. In Canada, we have lagged behind the US a bit on RF limits, So my eldest (2000) outgrew the 22lb limit avail before a year, my middle child (2005) hit the 30lb limit avail at the time at 2yo, and my youngest (2009) outgrew his Radian (by height, around 38lb) just shy of 4.

I would continue to rear face as long as they fit, even if that meant 5 or 6yo. After 4, I'd probably let the child have some input into which direction to face.

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New member
I'm personally ok around the 4th birthday... My "goal" I guess. With ds3 in a radian, he wanted to turn so we did then, but if he didn't I would have gone longer. With ds2 (now 9.5) he was really uncomfortable rear-facing in the seat we had when he was 3.5. I had bought one of the first Recaro Comos not knowing that the seat depth was so atrocious. He was knees-to-ears rear facing, and I know that's not supposed to matter, but he was uncomfortable and looked it. So I turned him then because at the time there weren't the affordable options there are now, and I know better to choose longer lasting seats so a choice like that never has to be made.

Anyway, dd is almost three and has miles left in the radian even though she has a long torso. No plans to turn, goal is age 4, but I'm open to longer :)


New member
I have a seat with a 45lb and 44" limit. My goal with my own children is always age 4.

In real life I am thrilled when people go to 18mos, and do backflips if they go to age 2. Occasionally (like the other day) I see kids who rf until age 3+, and I've even met a rf 5yo. :)

I'm on my third child right now, and she's turning 3 next month. From there Ive got about a year left of rf, and I'm not ashamed to say I'm very excited to turn her ff and be done my ERF'ing days. It's been great, and I'm proud to have gotten all three to age 4, but there are days when I'm ready to move on from it. :)


New member
For the most part, I've ERF to the seat limits, but when DS turned 4, he technically still had a small amount of time left in his Radian XTSL but I did go ahead and turn him FF at that point v. having to measure/weigh regularly to figure out if he'd outgrown the seat.

He was FF part time at 3yr3mo b/c he hit 40 lbs and I did choose at that time not to buy another seat just to make it to 4 in both cars.


New member
My godson RF'd to the limit of his Evenflo Triumph 65, and he turned forward facing at 3.

I installed an Evenflo Sureride in my car a few months later rear facing and asked him to take pictures in it- he was more than happy to climb in rear facing. At that point he was at the height and weight limits for rear facing already so he was too big to rear face in the Sureride, or else he would have. If he were smaller I would still have him RF- he'll be 4 in a few days.


Well-known member
We go to the limits of our seats, which was 33lbs for DD1 and is 35 lbs for DS. My kids are on the small side, so DD1 didn't turn until 4y4m. DS is still rfing at 4y2m and 33 lbs, so he'll make it at least as long as DD1. We'll see what seat I decide on for DD2 when all our current ones expire - that will determine how long she rfs.


New member
My goal has always been to get to as close to four as possible. My oldest son reached 40 lbs a few days after turning 3.5 and I had no hard feelings about turning him. My younger son is just under 3.5 and I had to turn him because the only place for his seat was in the third row and since there's no LATCH and Britax prohibits seat belt installs rear facing with the crotch buckle in the outer slot my only choices were to go against the directions, buy a new seat, or turn him forward facing. I chose the option that made the most sense to me.


Active member
My bare minimum in both my son's primary and secondary vehicles is 4. He is only 50% by height but 95% head size so has a taller seated height that most other 50%'s. That meant he outgrew his first convertible seat at 3 by height. I had learned about extended rear facing so I bought high weight and height limit seats. He will probably rear face to 4.5 or maybe a little more. We'll see when we get there. His giant head makes me want to add a bit of a cushion. He has plenty of room in his seat so I don't see any reason to turn him. I live in Texas and we have some long drives. Rear facing is so much nicer for sleeping.


Senior Community Member
With our youngest 3, the twins RF'd until 2.5yrs. One was outgrowing his seat by height...the other even now at 6 could still fit rf'ing (at least by weight), but we flipped him at 2.5 as well. We flipped baby sister at 3. She would occasionally ride rf'ing until 3.5, but was f/t FF by 3.5.


Well-known member
Now that I know how much safer ERF is, my goal is to at least age 3 but I would prefer closer to age 4. Ds3 made it to 3 years 3 months in our truck that we only used about once a month and 3.5 years in my van. He was turned in my van because I needed to fit 5 seats in the back and his didn't fit RF. If we have another baby I am going to aim for 4 but won't feel guilty FF after they turn 3 if necessary.


Well-known member
In a way, I should probably consider myself lucky that it's unlikely I'll have to make the decision whether to rear-face past age 4 or not. My daughter just turned 3 a couple of weeks ago and is already too big to rear-face in all but two of the seats we currently have on the market. (Maybe 3, but although I haven't tried her in it I *think* she's too tall for the Peg Perego; and she's too heavy for everything else except Radians and Foonfs).

She is rear-facing in Radians in the primary vehicles, but she'll have to forward face in situations where we can't use her Radians. Fortunately that's rare. By the time she's 4 I think she'll be at the height and weight limits of the Radians as well, and most likely at the height limit of the Foonf. So unless something else comes out between now and then to keep her RF even longer, I won't have a decision to make, really.

The only height/weight at which it's safer to face forward is if the height/weight exceeds the rear-facing limits of the car seat the child is riding in.


New member
Four is when I give them the option.
I give the option to booster at six.
Leah turned six on August 22nd, and I asked her if she wanted to booster. She asked to go RF again. We installed a Foonf for her, and she is back rear facing:D


New member
My DS turned FF at age one, was probably a month or 2 after his B-Day. :eek: He outgrew his infant bucket and I was told it was time to turn him FF. DD fit in the infant bucket until she was 18 months then turned FF. Recently though I stopped listening to advice from people I knew and instead did my own research. Now my 4.5 year old DS and 2.5 year old DD are both RF in my Mom's vehicle in radians and will be RF in foonfs in DH's car as soon as they get installed. :dance: DS only has a couple inches to go RF yet but I'm going to be maxing out the limits. He won't turn FF until his 5th B-day if I'm right about when he'll outgrow his seat. DD is tiny so I think she'll be RF until her 6th B-day! :p (Unless she complains too much about it after four but DS actually told me "Thank you Mommy!" when I turned him RF! :spit: Which was hilarious because my Grandma told me he was probably going to be ungodly uncomfortable if I turned him RF! ;)


New member
Ds1 was rf until his 2nd birthday. I didn't know it was safer to stay rf longer than that and all of my friends had already turned their kids ff well before 2.

We bought ds2 a Nextfit for his 2nd birthday and he is about 33lbs and close to 40" already. Guess I will get a more exact height at his well check on Friday. He will stay rf until at least next summer when he is 3 yrs 3 months. DH and I said we would reevaluate then and it will depend how big he is. I think he will still have room, but if he is too cramped or uncomfortable, I would be ok with turning ff then. He is already the size his older brother was at age 3.


New member
4, although she's been FF on occasion (travel, rare 3rd/4th cars) since 2. Everyone else made some great points, so I won't reiterate!


New member
I plan to keep my kids RF as long as their seats allow. My son just tuned 3, and is 36.5"/28lbs, so he should be good for a while in his Radian. My daughter is only 4 months old, but she is in the 95th percentiles for weight and height, so I'm guessing I may have to turn her at a younger age than her brother.
If I could rear face myself, I would. It is safer for everyone, regardless of age. Whenever I am on a train or bus with RF seats, I always sit in them.

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