Who remembers riding in the back of a pickup truck or sitting on their dad’s lap while he let’s you “drive” without even so much as a seat belt on? Of course you have. We all did it. I’m not going to preach, but today I’d like to talk about the importance of keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible.
The laws vary by state, but these laws are minimal at best and designed to ensure people aren’t allowing their kids to jump around the backseat. You can find car seat safety laws by state here.
Regardless, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently changed their car seat safety recommendations (no, it’s not a law, but these recommendations are designed to keep your kid safe). The AAP now recommends that all children remain in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 2 or the child reaches the maximum height and weight limits set by the manufacturer of the seat. In addition, the AAP recommends that children are in a booster seat until they have reached 4’9″ AND (not OR) are at least 8 years old.
Now I’m not saying you’re a bad parent if you don’t follow these guidelines, because I certainly haven’t become an expert in my 17 months of child rearing. I’m just laying out the facts so you can make an informed decision.
Since I’m not an expert on car seat safety (or parenting) and can only tell you what is recommended, I strongly urge all parents to get their car seat checked regularly at a safety inspection center. Many car seat checks are free or ask for a small donation. They’ll make sure your car seat is properly installed, because after all, the safest car seat is the one that fits the child and the car, and is used properly every single time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists car seat inspections station by area here.
Now, I’ll leave you with this video about the importance of rear-facing that will address many of the questions you probably have.