New advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will change the way many parents buckle up their children for a drive.
In a new policy published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online March 21), the AAP advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
The previous policy, from 2002, advised that it is safest for infants and toddlers to ride rear-facing up to the limits of the car seat, but it also cited age 12 months and 20 pounds as a minimum. As a result, many parents turned the seat to face the front of the car when their child celebrated his or her first birthday. (I know I did). But my kid were also 20 lbs by the time they were 6 months old! And were extremely excited when they hit their 1st birthday and I turned them around. The car ride seemed like a whole new experience, and more pleasant. But I understand their findings and research.
Glad not to be in that toddler phase, in my house we are entering the booster phase. And it amazes me the amount of people that will put their child in to a booster when they are not ready. My 4 year old is begging me to be in a car seat like her 6 year old brother, and I keep telling her that when she goes to kindergarten (hoping she's 40lbs by then) she can have a booster with a back and big wings to protect her head... yes that's me "over protective" mom with the Sunshine Kids booster that is larger then her car seat with the 5 pt. harness. It's a bit large and bulky, but that's the one a car seat safety person had recommended at the time. And we have an SUV so I figured perfect for me! Had I known what I know now when I was switching my kids from the infant seat to the harness seat I might have chosen something different. I love the Sunshine Kids Radient, it has the harness up to 45 lbs. then you can use it as a booster as well. AND it fits 3 across nicely in a back seat. I didn't think I'd need 3 across in a seat with only 2 kids, but when they get to kindergarten and you start picking friends up for play dates you NEED 3 across.
Just a quick note on when you can safely switch your child to a booster seat. If he/she is at least 4 years old and she weighs 40 pounds or more or has grown too tall for her car seat (when his/her shoulders are higher than the top set of harness-strap slots in the car seat's back). But in my house I tell them Kindergarten (or age 5). A lot of the newer car seats let you use the 5 pt. harness until 65 lbs. and the 5 pt harness is safest. See the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for their guidelines.
For infant car seats, I've always found Graco to make a wonderful well made car seat at a reasonable price. They make this one particular I have liked since my sister had her baby. The Graco 32 car seat. It's for infants up to 32 lbs. and 32 inches. Perfect with the new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. My 4 year old is barely 35 lbs. So the 32 lb. limit is great for my family since we all seem to have extra large babies.
And remember having your car seat safely installed is extremely important and overlooked the most. SeatCheck.org will help you find a place near you that will install it safely for FREE.
Child Safety Tips from National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations.
Consumer Search opinion on best rated car seats.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ratings on Best Boosters for 2011.
Have your car seat checked for proper installation each time you move to then next level at SeatCheck.org.