How To Know When Your Baby Outgrows Their Car Seat

Whether your child is in a forward or rear facing car seat, one thing holds true. They will eventually outgrow it.

Previously, parents were advised to keep their child in a rear facing car seat until they were 2 years old, and then switch to a forward facing car seat. This advice has since changed. Children are now to stay rear facing until they outgrow their car seat.

The size and weight limits differ between manufacturers and different car seats. Some recommendations go beyond this and aim to keep your child rear facing until it is no longer possible. This is why the best convertible car seat can be so handy, allowing you to switch from rear facing to forward facing easily. You can find convertible car seat reviews at Safe Convertible Car Seats to see how safety ratings compare.

But how do you actually know when it is time to switch the seat? Here is how to recognize when it is time to change your car seat.


Height/Weight Specifications

Obviously, the first place to look is the specifications of the car seat. These will give a good indication of the maximum ranges recommended for a car seat. Generally a rear facing car seat can be used up until your child reaches around 35 to 40 pounds.

Height can be a little trickier. By most recommendations, your child has outgrow their car seat when their head is closer than 1 inch away from the top of the car seat. Also note if your child’s knees begin to bend too much then it is likely that they have outgrown their car seat.

Shoulder Height

You can work out if your car seats shoulder height is suitable for your child in several ways depending on the type of car seat you are using.

In rear facing car seats, the shoulder height of the straps should be placed either at or slightly underneath your child shoulders. If they can not be fitted in this way, then your child has outgrown their rear facing seat.

In forward facing car seats, the straps must be placed either at or above your child’s shoulders. If your child’s shoulders are taller than the height of the harness, then the car seat is no longer appropriate.


Although there was once a recommendation that children switch car seat when they reach a certain age, this is no longer valid. Age is not a determinant when moving to a different type of car seat.

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