For safety’s sake, it’s best to keep your child rear-facing until she reaches the seat’s maximum height or weight limit.
Many parents used to turn the seat to face front as soon as their child celebrated her first birthday. But in 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its policy, citing a study that found children younger than 2 are 75 percent less likely to be killed or injured in a car crash if they’re in a rear-facing car seat.
Now both the AAP and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommend children face backward until they outgrow their seat. That means most children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they’re at least 4 years old.
Why rear-facing is better
Very young children are especially at risk for head and spinal cord injuries because their bones and ligaments are still developing. Their heads are also proportionately larger than their necks, so the structural support system is still a little wobbly. Rear-facing seats give the best support to your child’s head, neck, and spine, and prevent your child’s head from being thrown away from his body in the event of a car crash.
When your child outgrows the height and weight limits of a rear-facing infant seat, you should move him into a convertible seat with a higher height and weight limit. Most manufacturers make rear-facing seats that accommodate kids weighing more than 40 pounds, allowing most children to keep using them until around age 4.
Is it safe to keep my child rear-facing if her legs seem too long?
When sitting in a rear-facing car seat, most toddlers have limited legroom. Their legs may even have to be bent or crossed to fit.
This can be troubling to some parents who worry that the child is uncomfortable. Or worse, that her legs could be hurt in the event of a crash. But experts say that’s not the case.
Rear-facing car seats are not only far more effective at preventing fatal injuries (as well as those that could permanently disable a child), but they’re also much better at protecting your child’s arms and legs.
“In a forward-facing car seat during an accident, your child’s arms and legs fly forward and are more likely to be injured,” says Ben Hoffman, a nationally recognized injury prevention specialist and pediatrician at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, Oregon Health & Science University. “In a rear-facing car seat, the chance of injuries to the arms and legs in a crash is less than 1 in 10,000.”
So it’s still the safest position, even for kids who look constricted in a rear-facing seat. As long as kids are within the height and weight limits of the seat, they’re safer and most likely quite comfortable, too.
Many rear-facing car seats now accommodate kids who weigh 40, 45, or even 50 pounds, and measure up to 49 inches tall. (Many kids exceed the height limit before the weight limit.) Hoffman recommends keeping your child in the safest seat option for as long as possible and moving to the next step only when you absolutely have to.
Post time: Nov-04-2018