Here’s how the new car seat guidelines break down:
- OLD GUIDELINES SAID: It used to be that once your child turned two, the guidelines said your child could use a front-facing car seat.
- NEW GUIDELINES: Now, the guidelines say that your child should stay in a rear-facing car seat as long as the child still fits in it.
“Fortunately, car seat manufacturers have created seats that allow children to remain rear-facing until they weigh 40 pounds or more, which means most children can remain rear-facing past their second birthday,” said Benjamin Hoffman, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement and chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. “It’s best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This is still the safest way for children to ride.”
When a child rides rear-facing, the head, neck, and spine are all supported by the hard shell of the car safety seat, allowing the car seat to absorb most of the crash forces, and protecting the most vulnerable parts of the body. When children ride forward-facing, their bodies are restrained by the harness straps, but their heads – which for toddlers are disproportionately large and heavy – are thrown forward, possibly resulting in spine and head injuries.
What’s the safest car seat once your child moves to front facing?
The AAP says that once your child moves to a forward-facing car seat, that car seat should still have a harness to protect the child. And the child should stay in that seat until he or she no longer fits and/or is 65 pounds or more.
Then, the child can move to a booster seat that will help the car’s regular seat belt to fit properly across the shoulder and lap.
And even when a child moves to a regular seat, the child should continue to always use the lap and shoulder belt. The guidelines say all children 13 and younger should remain in the rear seat for optimum safety.
According to the AAP, “Using the right car safety seat or booster seat lowers the risk of death or serious injury by more than 70 percent.”
Tutorial on how to install a baby car seat
Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to properly install a baby car seat.