Over the past 10 years, the rules for proper car seat use have changed drastically. In 2005, when my nephew was born, most doctors agreed that it was mandatory to keep them rear-facing until the age of 1 year, but was recommended until 2 years old. Today we see a very different picture. Below is some useful information on why you should keep a child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. As always, remember that for more helpful articles like this you should follow our HINEYTALES FACEBOOK PAGE and our TWITTER page!
Types of Car Seats At a Glance
Note: This chart is from the American Academy of Pediatrics sponsored website, healthychildren.org and is a quick guide on where to start your search. It’s important to continueyour research to learn about each car seat you use.
Age Group Type of Seat General Guidelines Infants/
Rear-facing only seats and rear-facing convertible seats All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are at least 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer. Toddlers/
Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses Any child who has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for his convertible car seat should use a Forward-Facing Car Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat manufacturer. School-Aged Children Booster seats All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age. Older Children Seat belts When children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection.
All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
As you can see from this chart, small children are now cautioned to stay rear-facing for as long as possible to avoid possible neck/spine injuries in the event of a serious car accident. We now know that a rear facing 2 year old is 5 times safer than a forward facing 2 year old! PEDIATRICS journal states that the need to keep the child rear-facing
“results from the need to support the young child’s posterior torso, neck, head, and pelvis and to distribute crash forces over the entire body. Developmental considerations, including incomplete vertebral ossification, more horizontally oriented spinal facet joints, and excessive ligamentous laxity put young children at risk of head and spinal cord injury. Rear-facing CSSs address this risk by supporting the child’s head and preventing the relatively large head from moving independently of the proportionately smaller neck. PEDIATRICS Vol. 127 No. 4 April 1, 2011 pp. e1050 -e1066″
Kate Schnetzer, MHA CBE CLC CPST, of Parenting Resources notes that in her Babyology 101 classes,
“we discuss car seat safety at length and learn to use them, I like to show this quick video of a rear facing and froward facing crash test. It makes it so clear what a difference this can make. The rear facing child is cradled in their seat, hardly even moving. The forward facing child’s head, neck, arms, and legs are trust forward with incredibly dangerous force.”
While this article diverges slightly from our normal topics on this blog, I feel it’s a very important message to spread to moms and dads. Unfortunately, people are still very ignorant to the huge changes that have occurred over the past 10 years in the car seat world. It is important to note that Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles are in need of education on this topic just as much as parents. They will do things the way they remember, not to the new specifications. Please share this post to any new parents, grandparents, or aunts and uncles that you know.
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Molly, founder of HineyTales, has been cloth diapering for 3 years. Working 4 days a week and with 2 kids under 3 years old in cloth diapers, she tries to remember that parenting is an adventure with plenty of room for mistakes, short-cuts, and imperfections. Her inspiration for starting HineyTales is to spread the #crazyforcloth message to working mamas. With only a little help needed to get started, it’s one of the best decisions a family can make.