The American Academy of Pediatrics have updated their long standing child car safety seat guidelines, and are now recommending infants remain in rear-facing safety seats longer.
According to the AAP, infants should be placed in the back seat of the vehicle in a rear-facing seat until they are 2 years of age as long as they have reached the “highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.” The group previously said it was safe to make the switch to a front-facing seat on a child’s first birthday if they weighed at least 20 pounds.
Once a toddler reaches 2 years old or has outgrown the rear-facing seat, the AAP says it is OK to use a forward-facing car safety seat but children should should remain in a seat with a harness until at least 4 years of age, and in a booster seat until 8 to 12 years of age or until the child is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.
The AAP also recommends that no children under 13 years of age ride in the front seat at any time.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agrees with the change in AAP policy, and NHTSA Administrator David Strickland told ABC, “I think [the policy] really does reflect the, not only the state of the art, but also the science that doctors have recognized as what’s the best thing for the child.”
As for addressing complaints from older kids having to ride in booster seats as they advance into their tween years Strickland said, “Traffic crashes are the largest killer of children, period. Just because your child may not be happy about having to be in a booster seat a little bit longer, I think you would rather have to deal with that situation than having your child sustain an injury that could have been avoided if they were in a properly fitted restraint.”