As JD and Toodles become older and more massive, I've been wondering about the safety regulations for child seats. (Toodles just had her 4 month checkup - 16 lbs 10 oz / 26.5 inches tall.)
This is the NHTSA website. The following was copy-and-pasted (or copied-and-paste?) from the NHTSA website.
Infants - from birth to at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds
For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
Toddlers - Age 1 & 20 lbs to Age 4 & 40 lbs
When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
Children - from about age 4 to at least age 8
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).
Tweens - age 8 and older
When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).
With toodles growing at her rate, if she hits 20 lbs before she turns 1, I'm turning the thing around. Her feet are already kicking the back of the seat and she HATES riding in the car. I think it's because she's staring at a seat back. I'm sure there are things I can buy to entertain her, but I'd like her to look out upon the world. Call me crazy.
JD, meanwhile, is nearing 35 lbs quickly and will be 3 in January. He can put his foot on his sister's face and regularly marks up the back of my chair. I figure, when she's ready for the forward-facing seat, he'll move to a booster.