New Car Seat Guidelines Increase Safety for Babies on Board

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Illustration by Zhen Liu

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated recommendations on car seats for children. While the guidelines are not drastically different, there is one change parents may need to know. The AAP now recommends that infants and toddlers remain in a rear-facing seat as long as possible. Previously, it specified children should remain rear-facing until age 2. Studies show that the head, neck, and spine are better supported in a rear-facing seat, resulting in less injury in a crash.

Instead of age, parents should consider height and weight when determining when to transition to the next type of car seat. Children should stay in their existing car or booster seat until they reach the highest height and weight requirements for the seat.

More important, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined that many car seats are installed incorrectly, reducing their effectiveness in a collision. The proper use of car seats reduces the risk of death for infants by 71 percent and toddlers by 54 percent, says NHTSA.

Many hospitals and fire stations conduct free safety checks to ensure car seats are installed properly. Visit cert.safekids.org/get-car-seat-checked to find a checkpoint near you. After all, the best and safest car seat is the one that is installed correctly.

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