In a new policy published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online March 21), the AAP advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
The previous policy, from 2002, advised that it is safest for infants and toddlers to ride rear-facing up to the limits of the car seat, but it also cited age 12 months and 20 pounds as a minimum. As a result, many parents turned the seat to face the front of the car when their child celebrated his or her first birthday.
Apparently the blogosphere is exploding over this news. I yawn at these new recommendations.
I’m a Child Passenger Safety Tech, also known as a car seat nazi, so I know that rear-facing is safer than forward-facing for young children. My Masterpiece just went forward-facing at 3.5yo for her trip to visit my folks. She will return to rear-facing when she gets back. But I wasn’t always a tech — my first three kids, my PRACTICE children, were all forward-facing at 1yo. Animal and Mineral went forward-facing at 11 months, if I recall correctly.
My interest in child passenger safety started when Animal and Mineral got to the age where most kids go into boosters — 3yo or 4yo — and I didn’t feel they were ready to get out of 5pt harnesses. We invested in two Britax Regents, which, at the time, had the heighest weight limit for a 5pt harness. (Now there are many others, but Britax was the first.) I really loved those seats. They were like Laz-y-boy chairs with harnesses. Britax stopped making them in 2007.
Britax was also the first to do higher weight-limits for rear-facing. Other than their boosters, they only have one seat that is a forward-facing only seat, and the recommendation on that seat says it is for children older than 2yo.
*No, I don’t work for Britax. However, I am on their parental advisory research list, so sometimes I participate in their studies and give feedback.
Currently I have about 12 or 13 seats. Four boosters, two combination seats, five convertibles, and three infant buckets. I do not use all of them; some of them have been lended out or given away. But I’m really glad to be able to provide safe seats, and information about keeping kids safe while they’re in the car.