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Home / News and Events / Health Tips / AAP makes new car seat safety recommendation
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AAP makes new car seat safety recommendation
 

Reviewed By: Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children Program Manager at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt (Last Updated: January 1, 2014)
  

Making the switch to a forward-facing child car seat is practically a rite of passage for families.

When a child turns 1, parents turn the car seat around so they can more easily see their babies from the driver's seat. 

But facing forward is actually a riskier position for infants, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Both groups now endorse a recommendation that children remain rear-facing until they outgrow their infant seats, or until age 2.

"A young child's head is proportionally much larger and heavier than an adult's, and their neck muscles are not as fully developed, so keeping a child rear-facing ensures optimal protection," said Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children Program Manager at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. "A 2007 study showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing."

Tennessee's car seat law remains unchanged, but Haverstick recommends that parents learn about their car seat and make the change now to keep toddlers facing rear based on the new criteria. She says some infant seats that are rear-facing can be outgrown in only a year, but convertible seats can face either rear or front and often can be used up to 45 lbs.

"Convertible seats have two different belt paths - one for rear-facing installation and one for forward-facing installation. So it is important that caregivers always read the owner's manual that comes with their child restraint so they know how to install the seat appropriately," Haverstick said.

Tennessee has had a law since 2004, stating that older children should remain in a booster seat in the back until they reach 4 feet 9 inches, and the vehicle seat belt fits properly. Children typically reach that height between ages 8 and 12.

But the new recommendations to keep children rear-facing up to age 2 shouldn't cause stress for parents.

"At Children's Hospital, we have certified child passenger safety technicians on staff through our Safe Children Program. We provide free car seat checks in the community and one-on-one appointments at the hospital," said Haverstick.

For more information on car seat checks go to: www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org/carseatchecks. Or call 615-936-1869.

Learn more about the AAP's new car seat recommendations.


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