New AAP Car Seat Safety Guidelines: Rear-Facing Until Age 2
A parents’ must-read guide to the new car seat guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Plus: Are you making one of these car seat mistakes?
In a new policy statement published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics now advises parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat, which can be found on the back of the seat. Many parents currently choose to flip their child to forward-facing around his or her first birthday.
Previously, the AAP advised parents to keep kids rear-facing as long as possible, up to the maximum limit of the car seat, and this has not changed. But it also cited one year and 20 pounds as the minimum for flipping the seat, which many parents and pediatricians interpreted as conventional wisdom on the best time to make the switch. The new policy clarifies the AAP’s recommendation, making age two the new guideline—a real game-changer for parents of toddlers.
A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention found that children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing. Another study found riding rear-facing to be five times safer than forward-facing.
“A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body,” said Dennis Durbin, M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric emergency physician and co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphiaand lead author of the policy statement and accompanying technical report.