New guidelines for young children in vehicle seats

New guidelines for young children in vehicle seats

The new guidelines recommend turning the auto seat from rear facing to front facing depending on the height and weight of your child, instead of just making the change based on their age.

"It's really important to keep them rear-facing as long as possible", said Natasha Young, who is mother to 5-month-old Soleil and a certified technician for the non-profit organization Safe Kids Worldwide.

The AAP made a decision to update their vehicle seat policy after re-analyzing a 2017 study that originally recommended the age limit at two years old.

Once they get too big for their first auto seat, parents should switch their kids to a front-facing seat, and once they outgrow that (the weight limit for most front-facing seats is about 65 pounds), they can move on to a booster seat.

Do not forget to check the auto seat's label for those recommendations. "We hope that by helping parents and caregivers use the right auto safety seat for each and every ride that we can better protect kids and prevent tragedies", he said.

A risk parents aren't willing to take.

By using the proper auto seat, the risk of death or serious injury is lowered by more than 70%, according to the academy.

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Unlike with rear-facing seats, in forward-facing seats, a toddler's head - which is "disproportionately large and heavy" - is thrown forward in a crash, which could lead towards spine and head injuries. Now, the academy wants parents to keep children in rear-facing seats until they reach the max height and weight limit, even if they're older than 2.

Emily Byrne says she will side with the experts and keep her son Ryan rear facing, as long as the auto seat's label suggest she does.

Experts also say it's not a problem if older children's legs can touch the back seat while using rear-facing vehicle seats.

Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, lead author of the AAP policy statement and chair of the AAP council on injury, violence and poison prevention, said that auto seat manufacturers now produce 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".

When children exceed height or weight limits for those seats, they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the lap and shoulder belts fit properly, often when the child has reached 4 feet 9 inches in height.

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