Stage 1: Rear Facing


What is rear facing? Child passengers ride facing the rear of the vehicle. It is often shortened to RF, also referred to as Stage 1.



Why do children ride rear facing? It is the best way to protect the head, neck, and spine of young children.

Cars and car seats are designed to best protect passengers in the most common and most frequently fatal types of crashes: frontal or front offset (front corner) crashes.

When child passengers ride in an appropriate seat that faces the rear of the vehicle, the car seat takes the brunt of the crash, and not your child’s young body.



Who MUST ride rear facing? Babies must ride rear facing. They have large heads compared to the rest of their body, and weak necks. Provincial rules and individual seat requirements vary, but generally anyone who is 22 lbs (10 kg) or less, or under one year of age, must ride rear facing.

Who MAY ride rear facing? Younger children often can continue to ride rear facing until age 2, 3, or even 4. It is considered best practice for a child to remain rear facing until they meet the limits of the larger, convertible seat. Almost all kids can safely remain rear facing in almost all seats until at least age 2.


How can kids ride rear facing? They can ride rear facing in a variety of types of seats.

Rear-Facing Only (RFO) Seat: Sometimes this seat is called a bucket seat, infant seat, or stage 1 seat. Rear-facing only infant-style seats (RFOs) have a stay-in-car base and a removable carrier with a handle. See our favourites here.

Convertible: Convertible car seats are also called infant/child seats or stage 1/2 seats. This is because they convert from rear facing to forward facing. See our favourites here.

3-in-1: 3-in-1s might be called a multi-mode seat, all-in-ones, infant/child/booster seats, or stage 1/2/3 seats. They tend to have three modes, including rear facing, forward facing, and booster. Some manufacturers differentiate between rear facing for infants and rear facing for toddlers, and may also differentiate between high back boosters and backless boosters. Phew – that’s a lot to wade through, we know. That’s why you’re reading this though, right? We group our favourites together with convertibles and you can see them here.


No really, how?

Top Ten Tips: Rear Facing is a quick read to lay out some things to look for with rear-facing seats. We bust some myths, and give you shorter, easier-to-digest nuggets of info.

One of our most-read articles is Rear-facing: Why do it and how to make it work, and was written early on in our work in this field. We have continued to update it over the years to keep it relevant. It’s longer and wordier though, so read it when you have some time.

Video: installing a rear-facing convertible with UAS

Video: installing a rear-facing convertible with seat belt


I have questions.

How do I find out about what car seat to buy? How do I find someone to help me install my seat?

Please ask us. Or ask another CPST near you. We tend to get to questions on our Facebook page more quickly than anywhere else, but if you don’t do social media please reach out via email to

We would be delighted to help you choose an appropriate seat that fits your family’s needs.

Stage 1: Rear facing
Stage 2: Forward facing
Stage 3: Booster seats
Stage 4: Seat belts