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New Child Carseat Recommendations: Does Your Child Fit?

New Child Carseat Recommendations: Does Your Child Fit?

Parents look forward to all sorts of things as milestones in their child’s development. The introduction of solid foods. Potty training. Among them, one thing they should take slowly: turning the car seat around. The research is clear: An infant or toddler is up to five times safer in a rear-facing car seat than one facing forward.

Up to today, while the law was that children under the age of 1 year and 20-22 lbs need to remain rear-facing, the recommendation was that children should remain rear-facing for longer. 

Reducing safety confusion
However, the conflict between the recommendation and the actual law caused confusion, with many parents simply adhering to the 1 year rule. Other parents erroneously believed that once the child’s legs were bent against the back seat that they “needed” to turn the child around for safety reasons. 

Today the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new guidelines for the use of child restraint devices in automobiles. The new guidelines make it much clearer: Children should remain rear-facing until two years of age, and preferably to the rear-facing limits of the carseat you own.

Most important factor
Spine and neck strength are the key reasons to keep a child facing rear.  In a head-on collision, the forces that would give an adult whiplash would be far more likely to give an infant or toddler a serious or even fatal neck injury because their necks are not strong and are still growing.

The new recommendations also address the use of booster seats for older children. Because shoulder belts can rest against a child’s neck, the recommendation is to use a booster seat until the child reaches a height of 4 feet 9 inches. This recommendation may be more difficult to implement, as many kids that size could be pre-teens who would strenuously object to the use of a booster seat.

The guidelines also stress that children under the age of 13 should always ride in the back seat, no matter what their size.

Finally, no matter what kind of restraint system you use with your child, it’s also important to ensure the system is installed properly.  Happy – and safe – driving!

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Photo credit: Chris and Kris on Flickr

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24 comments

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8:14PM PDT on Jul 24, 2013

Thanks 4 the info---good to know if I ever decide to have children--tho not likely.

7:21PM PDT on Mar 27, 2011

noted, thanks

7:34AM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

MAN OH MAN, am I glad I never decided to breed!
I know that when I was 12 and 4'8", if my mother had even TRIED to get me to sit in a booster seat in the back to be taken to school, we NEVER would have gotten there.

This does seem over-taxing to the parents and the adolescents alike. Can you possibly imagine the RIBBING some students would receive from their peers if they were spied riding in a back-seat booster?? Even at the risk of a ticket or possibly injury, I could never put a teen through that!

5:34AM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

Booster seats for anyone 4'9" and under is crazy I know many adults who would need a booster seat. Maybe we should be concerned about driver safety.

3:06AM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

Thanks for this

8:09PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

My issue is that a test was done comparing the safety of car seats to seat belts. This test was performed with crash test dummies at the request of economist Steven Levitt and writer Stephen Dubner, authors of SuperFreakonomics. The test discovered that properly secured car seats did not perform any better than seat belts, which are required for the car seats to work. However, properly securing a car seat can be a challenge and, in my opinion, would make them less secure than the seat belt. But what the regulations do make safer is the transfer of money from families.

3:46PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Car seat should be made to fit each kind of vech, not made like a one size fit all car seat for any car. No wonder so many kids are hurt in car seats.

2:16PM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

I'm so glad I grew up before all these child seat regulations for cars. Not only would I have been bored silly if I was so strapped in and unable to move, but I'd have been carsick on even short trips. Even facing forward, I still would get carsick on long trips. I sometimes pity the regimentation of today's kids, where safety precautions are now going to extremes.

10:10AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

Security's all very good, but do we really know how much the seats makers influence (or not) the changes?
As well, I'm glad I'm no longer concerned because I get nastily sick if I don't face the road.

Thanks for the info.

8:53AM PDT on Mar 22, 2011

My daughter is now 18 and has her driver's license, so I don't have to deal with this any more. In my day, I believe the advice was to have the babies rear-facing in the back seat until 6 mos ... and I hated every minute of it because I couldn't see her when I looked in the rear view mirror ...

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