In the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) changed their advice on toddler car seat safety. As of the release of the article, the academy advises parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat, which can be found on the back of the seat. Up until that time the AAP had recommended keeping kids rear-facing as long as possible, up to the maximum limit of the car seat, but also cited one year and 20 pounds as the minimum for switching a car seat forward facing. As a result, state laws were implemented with the one- year/20 pound guideline and many parents chose to turn infants front-facing at that time. As of 2016, most states have not updated their car seat safety laws to reflect this recommendation but many parents have chosen to invest in convertible car seats that allow the toddler to rear face until they are at least age two.
Why did the AAP change its car seat safety recommendation?
The AAP looked at research from a 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention that found that children under age two are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a car crash if they are rear-facing. Experts such as Dennis Durbin M.D., F.A.A.P., a pediatric emergency physician and co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia support this change in recommendation, stating “A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body.”
Why did it take the change in recommendation for parents to make the change?
In general, parents are eager for their children to reach a new milestone and to make things as easy as possible for themselves. As a result, it makes sense that the majority chose to use the minimum guideline instead of the maximum. In addition, pediatricians did not do a good job explaining the dangers of switching your infant to front-facing at the age one because the research had not yet been done but perhaps also because there are so many other points to cover in a doctor visit.
Common points raised by parents resistant to keeping their toddlers rear-facing:
- It is awkward to get child into rear-facing seat
- My child is bored
- I cannot see my child
- My child gets nauseous
- My child is tall and their legs are squished
Parents should schedule an appointment with a certified car seat inspector to ensure that the convertible car seat is installed correctly. The car seat must be harnessed tightly and correctly to the vehicle either with the seatbelt or LATCH system. In addition, the harness should be snug over the child’s shoulders and the chest clip must be in the correct position – across the chest.
If your child was involved in a car crash, contact a car accident lawyer today and don’t forget to replace the car seat. Note that most insurance plans will replace car seats in the event of a car crash.
If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!