New car seat policy for children 2 and under

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Looking forward to turning your baby’s car seat around when he turns one? Not so fast…

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a new set of guidelines on car seat safety. The AAP, which published its new policy in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics, is now advising parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until the age of two. And if your child is smaller than average, you might even consider keeping him rear-facing even longer.

Previously, the AAP recommended that you keep your child rear-facing until he was at least 20 pounds and 12 months. That’s the law here in Tennessee, by the way.

The new guidelines also advise that parents keep their children in belt-positioning booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between age 8 and age 12.

The new guidelines were very timely for my family. My younger son turned one at the end of February, but he was hovering just above the 20 pound mark. We knew that legally, we could turn him around, but somehow, he just seemed so small that I was reluctant to do it. Plus, he seemed content enough to be rear-facing. He usually rides next to his (forward-facing) big brother, so he has someone to entertain him most of the time.

So we installed his new (enormous) Britax Marathon seat in the rear-facing position. And sure enough, he seems to be doing just fine.

Note: if you’ve already turned your toddler around to face the front of the car, don’t fret. Experts are saying that properly installed car seats really are the key to preventing most serious injuries. But definitely make sure your child’s car seat is properly installed. At the top of my to-do list is to put in a call to a local law enforcement station that can make sure my son’s seat is properly installed.

What about your family? Will the new policy affect your decisions about your children’s car seats? Or were you already keeping your young children in rear-facing seats, like a growing number of parents I know?


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