Originally Posted by nmelanson
I'm hoping that someone could fill me in on why a child would stil be RF at that age? I've never heard of it before. What are the benefits and reasons? Just curious... Thanks!
Rear-facing is much, much safer than FF, because in a front-end collision (the most common and fastest collisions) the RF seat cradles the spine in an accident, while FF the harness holds the body while the head is flung forward. Also RF provides more side-impact (the most deadly form of accident) protection. Rear-impact collisions are the least common and are most often at low speeds.
The spine slowly ossifies (hardens) up until a child is 4-6 years old. After ossification, the spine is much more capable of sustaining that kind of impact. Which is why many of us try to keep our children RF until at least 4 years old if possible. My 2.5yo is RF still, and will remain so probably until she is 40lbs (she is 32lbs now) . There are seats out there that RF to 40-45lbs. Bent legs are not considered a safety concern, and most kids put their legs out to the side or prop them up on the seat back, or sit cross legged and are perfectly comfortable with the arrangement.
OP: If your DS is complaining about his legs hurting, have you tried reminding him that they wouldn't hurt so much if he put them in a different position (like dangled over the side or propped up on the seatback)? The position he's in DOES look uncomfortable, but he doesn't have to sit like that... If it's really uncomfortable and there's no way to move his legs elsewhere and there's no way to recline his seat more (like putting it behind the passenger seat...) then I'd consider turning him at that age. But I would try the alternatives first!