If you don't already know, The American Academy of Pediatricians and the national highway safety groups are recommending that your child stay rear facing until 2 years old. This is new news, that I'm not sure everyone is aware of. When my little ones were younger (they're only 3 and 5) it was recommended 20 lbs. and at least age 1. Now they are asking that you keep them rear-facing as long as possible, and that that may mean up to 30 or 35 lbs. (my 3 year old is only 32lbs.)
Here's a few bullets of information I've found at Car-Safety.org to support the idea:
- Rear-facing is safest everyone, but especially for babies, who would face a greater risk of spinal cord injury in a front-facing car seat during a frontal crash.
- Rear-facing car seats spread frontal crash forces over the whole area of a child's back, head and neck; they also prevent the head from snapping relative to the body in a frontal crash.
- Rear-facing car seats may not be quite as effective in a rear end crash, but severe frontal and frontal offset crashes are far more frequent and far more severe than severe rear end crashes. (Statistics. According to Crashtest.Com, frontal and frontal offset crashes combine for about 72% of severe crashes. Side impacts are about 24%. Rear and rear offset crashes only account for about 4%.)
- Rear-facing car seats are NOT a safety risk just because a child's legs are bent at the knees or because they can touch/kick the vehicle seat.
- Rear-facing as long as possible is the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians, and can reduce injuries and deaths. Motor Vehicle Crashes are the #1 overall cause of death for children 14 and under.
Baby Trends, Britax, Chicco, Combi, Even Flo, Eddie Baur, Graco, Peg Perego and Teutonia USA all have infant car seats that hold baby up to 30lbs, some even higher. Check out Healthy Children for a full listing.
Find out where you can have your car seat inspected or installed correctly at:
Great resources for more information on Car Seat Safety!