New Guidelines State Children Should Stay In Rear Facing Car Seats Longer
The American Academy of Pediatrics has changed their guidelines for the age of when children can move on from rear facing car seats.
The new recommendations say that children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach the height or weight limit for the seat. This is different from the previous guidelines, which eliminates the age-specific milestone to turn a child's car seat around.
Car seat manufacturers are making seats that allow children to remain rear-facing until they reach 40 pounds, Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, lead author of the academy's updated guidelines, said in a statement:
Car seats are awesome at protecting children in a crash, and they are the reason deaths and injuries to children in motor vehicle crashes have decreased. But that also means we just don’t have a large enough set of data to determine with certainty at what age it is safest to turn children to be forward-facing. If you have a choice, keeping your child rear-facing as long as possible is the best way to keep them safe.
By using the proper car seat, the risk of death or serious injury is lowered by more than 70%, according to the academy. All children younger than 13 years should be in a vehicle's back seat.
If you aren't exactly sure where to find the limits for height and weight for your child's car seat, check the manual that came with it.
Once children reach the height or weight limit and shift to a forward-facing seat, they should use safety seats with harnesses for as long as possible, often up to 65 pounds, the pediatricians' group said. Once children exceed height or weight limits for those seats, they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the lap and shoulder belts fit properly, often when the child has reached 4 feet 9 inches in height.