A lot of parents are confused when it comes to deciding for how long their baby should stay in a rear-facing car seat. This position has a lot of advantages for children, so knowing how to properly seat your child is very important too. You shouldn’t be rushing to change your infant’s car seat as soon as possible. In addition, that’s considered a bad move since it decreases the safety of your child if you’re not following rear facing car seat guidelines.
The Old Rules
The old rear facing car seat law is recommending that babies should be allowed to ride forward-facing when they reach about 20 pounds or after their first birthday. However, this old standard is now changed due to the new findings on car seat safety for kids. It is proven now that your baby will be safer if it remains in a rear-facing car seat even after they turn 1 year. Modern rear-facing car seats have a lot higher weight limits than their predecessor. This allows almost all toddlers to stay in their rear-facing car seat even after their second birthday, and even after that. This is also recommended by the new rear facing car seat law.
There are a few states in the U.S. that already begun changing their rear facing car seat law to increase the safety. Usually, new laws are requiring parents to use rear-facing car seats until their kids turn 2.
Usually, almost every state has a law saying that in order to ride in a forward-facing car seat, a baby should be at least one year old. If you take a look at rear facing car seat guidelines, you will find out that this is the minimum standard in most cases. The companies usually put out their seats as safe for one-year-olds, which lead to believing this to be true. However, this usually isn’t the best solution so you should keep a child in a rear-facing seat until it reaches the maximum weight and height for it.
New parents will almost ask their friends and family that have already been through the car-seat phase for advice. Keep in mind that you might get information that is outdated if your friends and family had toddlers years ago.
The New Rules
The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that the new research will change rear facing car seat guidelines in many states. Also, they consider these new rules to be a lot safer.
As mentioned, previous rules were recommending children to stay in rear-facing seats until they turn 2. This is now changing since the updated guidelines recommend parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until the kids get big enough according to the instruction manual. This change means that your toddler will have to stay seated well after their second birthday.
You can now find car seats for kids that allow kids to remain in their rear-facing car seat until they weigh almost 45 pounds. If you check the statistics you will notice that this is the safest way for children to ride.
The last year has been very significant when it comes to changes in the car seat protection. The biggest reason for this is probably a 2016 Texas legal case about car seat safety measures. A car seat company didn’t warn their customers of the risks of switching to front-facing seats from rear-facing ones was found responsible in this case. Unfortunately, a 20-month-old baby was injured because it was in a front-facing car seat when it shouldn’t be.
This is what the new rear facing car seat guidelines say:
- Parents should keep their children in rear-facing car seats until they reach the highest height or weight allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. The instruction manual always has this information.
- Once the kids reach the weight or height limit, you should start using safe seats with a harness before you shift to a forward-facing seat. This will usually be the case until your child weighs about 65 pounds.
- Your kids should use a booster seat when they exceed weight or height limits for forward-facing seats. You can keep using the booster seat until the shoulder and lap belts fit properly. You should keep doing this until your child is about 4”9’ tall .
The leading pediatricians and doctors recommend following new guidelines and using correct car seats since it is believed that this decreases the risk of serious injuries or even death by more than 70%.
A leading cause of death for children is car crashes. 4 kids under the age of 14 died each day over the last 10 years. Hopefully, new car safety regulations will make riding safer for everyone, but especially our children.
Why Rear-Facing Car Seats?
The main reason why we use car seats is to spread the crash force over a larger area of the body and to absorb remaining crash forces. Adults use seat belts since they distribute the force to the shoulders and hips, which are the strongest parts of our bodies. On the other hand, a toddler’s body parts are not that strong and they can’t withstand crash forces as well as adults can. The rear-facing car seats are helpful because they distribute the crash forces along the head, neck, and entire back. This puts a lot less stress on the other parts of the body. A rear-facing car seat also better supports the toddler’s head which is important since its neck is still very delicate to support the big and heavy head alone.
As you already know, a baby’s ligaments are lax and its bones are not completely hard. This is why kids, and especially infants and toddlers, are at a higher risk to suffer from spinal cord injuries than adults or older children. A rear-facing car seat also helps with this problem since it supports the child’s head. It is proven that rear-facing car seats considerably lower the risk of neck and head injuries for toddlers and babies.
Babies That Don’t Like Car Seats
Even if your baby cries while sitting in a rear-facing car seat, or if its legs are touching the seat back, you should still keep your little one in a rear-facing car seat until it reaches the weight or height limit of that particular seat. As already mentioned, convertible car seats usually have weight limits of 45 pounds, so your toddler should stay in a rear-facing car seat until the second birthday at least according to new regulations. Some toddlers don’t like car seats at all, and you may have problems with keeping them calm. However, do your best to keep them calm, but don’t force forward-facing car seats before it is time.
Legs that touch the back seat are a reason why a lot of parents are worried when it comes to rear-facing car seats. However, this also is not a reason to rush your child in a forward-facing seat. Remember that a crash severe enough to break toddler’s legs is also so serious that will cause life-threating neck injuries if a baby was in a forward-facing car seat. Of course, it is not fun to choose between injuries, but a broken leg will heal much better and faster than a broken neck would. In addition, if your child fusses while rear-facing, your solution might be to turn it around to make it happier. Once more, if you do this you will be exposing your child to serious spine, neck, and head injuries if it comes to an unfortunate car crash.
Crash data collected over the years is proof that everyone would be at a much lower risk if we were all riding rear-facing. We use this information to keep our children as safe as possible. Since we, as adults, are not able to drive rear-facing, a rear-facing car seat will provide the best possible protection to your child, so there’s no reason for the rush to change seats.
Baby Planet Overview
The statistics are showing that the old rules were not as good as we thought which is normal. We as humans improved our technology immensely, and car seats are just a part of it. The new car seat laws recommend rear-facing car seats to offer the best possible protection for toddlers and babies and we should follow them. Also, the proper usage of these car seats is also crucial. Check out the instruction manuals to better understand for how long you should be using a particular car seat.
Your baby should be in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible and that is definitely the safest choice you can make. Of course, the car seats are there only in the case of an accident. Your responsibility as a driver is the most important thing, especially if you have kids in a car. Don’t drink and drive, and if you’re tired, don’t go behind a wheel. Following these two simple rules will further decrease the chance of a possible car crash. Drive safe!