The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published new car seat safety guidelines as of August 30, 2018. They have updated their recommendations to state that children should remain rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height (whichever they reach first) for their seat. Previously the AAP recommended rear-facing until at least age 2, but with these new guidelines, many children can and should remain rear facing much longer.
You may be wondering – why is rear-facing important? Infants and toddlers have heads of disproportionate weight to the rest of their body. Rear-facing seats help to better cradle the head during a crash, therefore protecting the neck and spine from injury. Neck and spine injuries are some of the most devastating and heart-breaking injuries we care for in the emergency department.
As Emergency Physicians, we are thrilled with these new recommendations. Car accidents remain a major cause of death and disability for children under age 15 and this evidence-based policy recommendation guides parents in proper restraint use to protect their child. Please check your specific seat for the height and weight limits for rear-facing installation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association has published guidelines, recommendations and can even help set up an installation inspection. See their website for further information.