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New Recommendations for Car Seats – Will You Follow Them?

By HERWriter Guide
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Parenting related image Photo: Getty Images

In mid-March, 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced new recommendations that change many of the rules parents went by just last week. For many years now, babies have faced backward in their infant seats for the first year of their lives. In fact, it’s often a big deal to turn the car seat forward on the child’s first birthday--a kind of milestone. New recommendations advise that children should remain facing backward for the first two years of their lives – doubling the time we’ve become accustomed to.

Some parents aren’t happy with the news. Not only do older babies and toddlers eat small snacks or play with toys (potential choking hazards for all young children) in their car seats where parents will now not be able to see them, but many young toddlers don’t like traveling backward and have a tendency to make long journeys a nightmare because they are isolated from everyone else in the car. However, it’s safer for them to travel facing backward so the longer the better for babies. Additionally, mirrors can be strategically placed so that parents and babies can see each other while in the car. Many infant seats now allow for babies and toddlers who weigh up to 30 lbs. Getting these seats from the start can save money.

Onto older toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners: the rules are still similar. They should be in five point harnesses until old enough and tall enough to need a booster-only seat. Those ages and weights differ from state to state. Each state’s highway patrol has this information.

Grade school and middle school children are also seeing their recommendations change: booster seats need to remain in effect until the child is at least four feet, nine inches tall. Depending on the child – they may need a booster until their tween or even teen years; something both parents and older children balk at.

However, these new suggestions are being introduced due to new crash data that suggests children under two are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if facing backward.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Both of our children are over the age of 2, so this doesn't affect us. We generally follow recommendations provided in our state. Our youngest is in a 5-pt harness booster, and the oldest who will be 5 this year is in a seat belt booster. I'm not sure how it would be if we did have one younger than 2. Our kids outgrew their infant car seats before the milestones, but we kept them facing backward until they turned 1. It is easier on the parents when kids can face forward, and I think it's nicer for the kids too.
I still find it interesting to think of how when we were kids, we used to sit in the front seat, rarely wore seat belts, and luckily were never injured. I do recall some short stops as a kid when I was thrown into the backs of the front seats if I wasn't sitting as I was told. How did we ever survive without car seats, air bags, and seat belts? And the cars were all steel then too! Amazing...

March 22, 2011 - 8:28am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Christine Jeffries)

Isn;t it amazing Christine? How about us all laying about and sleeping on folded down seats or trunks?!

Babies lay in their mother's arms in the front passenger seats and she wasn't even belted!

I'd love to see car accident/injury stats of children in the 70s versus now. Maybe I'll check it out and if I get any information, I'll post it here.

March 22, 2011 - 9:33am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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