The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are adding a year of riding facing backwards for kids: recommending that parents continue to use rear-facing carseats until children are two years old–that’s a year longer than previously recommended, and certain to render our massive library of parenting books suddenly out of date.
After age 2, children should sit in booster seats until roughly age 12, always remaining in the back seat.
The new guidelines grew out of a review of U.S. crash data from the past five years, which found one year olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they’re facing backwards than if they were sitting in a forward-facing seat:
“Parents often look forward to transitioning from one stage to the next, but these transitions should generally be delayed until they’re necessary, when the child fully outgrows the limits for his or her current stage,” said Dennis Durbin, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement and accompanying technical report.
“A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body,” Dr. Durbin said. “For larger children, a forward-facing seat with a harness is safer than a booster, and a belt-positioning booster seat provides better protection than a seat belt alone until the seat belt fits correctly.”