As you’ve probably heard by now, the AAP has released landmark new car seat guidelines that advise parents of toddlers to keep them rear-facing until age 2, or until they meet the height or weight limits of their car seats. Many parents currently turn their child’s seat around the time of the first birthday.
Plus: Read More About the New Guidelines
On Facebook, our site, and around the web, many parents are reacting in the same way: GET REAL. Won’t my child’s legs be scrunched? Aren’t they happier facing forward? Why did my pediatrician tell me to make the switch if it was too early? Will the government just stop telling me how to parent? I have older kids I switched to forward-facing at a year, and they did just fine!
As parents, we all want to keep our kids as safe as possible. Any implication that we aren’t is bound to ruffle feathers. It’s easy to respond with disbelief or defensiveness, but it’s important to stop beating yourself up, and starting reading up to see how you can keep your child as safe as possible in the car. Here are the facts: A 2007 study 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. It’s hard to argue with those numbers.
Plus: Car Seat Mistakes You May Be Making
I switched my older child to forward-facing at a year because that seemed to be the thing to do way back in 2006 when she turned one. However, now I have my 20-month-old rear-facing. I’ll be honest: I look forward to the day I can turn his seat so I can interact more easily with him, and hope he'll like being in the car a little better once we do. But for now he seems comfortable enough (he regularly sits on the floor in the W position, so I think he can take having bent legs), and I feel good knowing he’s as protected as he can be if we get into an accident. When we know better, we do better. So let’s all resolve to put knee-jerk reactions aside and do better.
Check out this very helpful video from the Car Seat Lady that explains why kids are safer rear-facing.