Pediatricians: Children older than 2 can remain in rear-facing vehicle seats

Grant Boone
September 2, 2018

"I think as they grow and their legs get longer it'll be really uncomfortable for them to be in that position for that long, especially on long auto rides", said Woltjer.

Taking into consideration the drastic change in recommendations, even a child turn two, they might need to keep facing the rear of their auto. Now, the organization is updating its guidelines and wants parents to keep their children in rear-facing seats until they reach the seat's maximum height and weight limit - even if they're older than 2.

Many young children older than 2 years old might whine about not upgrading to a "big kid" auto seat yet, but parents can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their child is a safe as possible in the back seat.

Natasha Young, a certified technician for the non-profit organization Safe Kids Worldwide, told CBS News that parents often graduate their children to front-facing seats too early. According to AAA, kids 1 to 2 years old are five times less likely to die or sustain a serious injuries in a crash when they're strapped into a rear-facing seat.

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Although doctors have updated their policy on vehicle seat safety, a statement by the AAP noted the "real-world impact on how parents use their children's auto seats will be minimal".

A technical report on the statement will be published this November in Pediatrics. That data was supported by biometric research, crash simulation data and experience in Europe where children ride rear facing for longer periods.

The author of the new recommendations regarding children's auto seats use, Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, MD, FAAP, said that there are no studies to show which could be the flawless age for moving from a rear-facing seat position to a front-facing one. "It's best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible". They recommend that they then go to a belt-positioning booster seat until the lap and shoulder belt's fit comfortably.

"Car seats are awesome at protecting children in a crash, and they are the reason deaths and injuries to children in motor vehicle crashes have decreased", Hoffman explained. Using the correct safety seat reduces a young child's risk of injury or death by more than 70 percent. The academy's policies are reviewed every three years. Most seats have a limit of up to 60 pounds or more.

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