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Kids safest in rear-facing seats until age 2

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued separate but consistent new recommendations Monday.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

I wanted to alert you to some new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

They're recommending today that children ride in rear-facing car seats longer, until they are 2 instead of 1. And, according to the pediatrics group:

"Children should transition from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness, until they reach the maximum weight or height for that seat. Then a booster will make sure the vehicle’s lap-and-shoulder belt fit properly. The shoulder belt should lie across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not near the neck or face. The lap belt should fit low and snug on the hips and upper thighs, not across the belly. Most children will need a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old.

Children should ride in the rear of a vehicle until they are 13 years old."

The groups have some data to back up their recommendations. A 2007 study found that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing.

You can read more about the new guidelines in these sources:

I turned my older daughter's car seat around a few months after her first birthday, which was the norm six years ago.

But over the years, I'd heard other recommendations that tots stay rear-facing for as long as possible. Buckupnc.org recommends that children stay rear-facing until well over a year old and as close to 30 to 35 pounds as possible.

I'd always wondered how that would work - logistically - as a one-year-old's legs got longer and longer. But I figured safety comes first so I still have my 18-month-old rear-facing in her car seat. Her legs are a bit squashed against the back seat, but it doesn't seem to bother her at all.

And since we're on the same topic, if you're wondering if your child's safety seat is installed correctly, BuckleUpNC.org lists local places that will check it for free.

Anybody planning on turning your car seats back around or putting your 10-year-old in the booster seat again?

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