I was watching the Today show this morning when I heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics had changed their regulations for child car seat safety. With two children still in car seats, I was listening with all ears. The most surprising is their recommendation to keep your child rear-facing in their car seat until the age of two. Additional changes were that kids should remain in a booster until reaching at least 4 ft. 9 inches in height. This could happen anywhere between the ages of 8 and 12 years of age. Also, do not put your child in the front seat until they are at least 13 years old.
I have to say that if you have done a little research on car seat safety, you might already know and realize that just because a child is 1 year old, it does not mean that their head, neck and spine are strong enough to survive a serious impact. I struggled with the decision to turn my son around at one year, because I still felt that he wasn’t quite big enough. However, as mothers around the world know, a one year old is very busy. In the car, it is much more convenient to have your child forward facing in order to hand them stuff, prevent extra fussiness because they are bored looking at the back of the seat, etc. So, most parents can’t wait until their child hits the 1 year mark to change their baby around. But, what if your child were in a car accident and received a spinal cord injury or severe head trauma? Would you be willing to sacrifice easily handing him snacks in the car to keep him safe? The most likely answer is yes. The AAP website states, “A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing.” Seventy Five percent is astounding. So, this is all about re-programming ourselves to do what is best for our child.
I have 5-point harness carseats for both of my kids now that are 2 and almost 5 years old. While my 5 year old could possibly meet the weight requirements for a booster now, her current car seat will actually allow her to stay in it until she is 85 lbs. While I doubt I would keep her in it that long, I do plan on keeping her in the car seat as long as she will allow me to. Afterall, she doesn’t really know what she is missing, and I have a little more peace of mind knowing that both of my children are in seats that are not just meeting the minimum requirements, but that are exceeding them.
I suspect that many parents are going to want to break the rules a little on this one, especially those who have kids between the age of 1 and 2. My son is just barely 2, so I don’t plan on turning him back around to rear-facing, but I definitely think that I could have kept him rear facing for longer.
Again, the AAP states, ““The ‘age 2’ recommendation is not a deadline, but rather a guideline to help parents decide when to make the transition,” Dr. Durbin said. “Smaller children will benefit from remaining rear-facing longer, while other children may reach the maximum height or weight before 2 years of age.”
You have the information now, but what will you do with it?