Through a better understanding of what keeps kids safe in the event of a car accident, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have revised their recommendations for child safety seats.
Rather than basing their recommendations on seat type, the new guidelines are by age. They generally recommend parents keep their child in each type of seat for as long as possible before moving to the next size.
To see the differences, here are the old guidelines:
- Under 1 year of age – required infant to be in a rear-facing seat
- 1-4 years of age (…or up to 40 pounds) – Children can be forward-facing provided they’re in a safety seat with a 5-point harness
- 4-8 years of age (…or 40-80 pounds) – Kids should be secured in what’s called a belt-positioning booster seat
The new guidelines are a bit more extensive and are based solely on age. Continue reading for the guidelines:
- Under 1 year – Children should always be in a rear-facing seat
- 1-3 years of age – Kids should stay in a rear-facing seat up until they’ve reached the seat’s maximum weight and height. Once this point is reached, they should be placed in a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness
- 4-7 years of age – Children should stay in a seat with a five-point harness for as long as possible until they reach the maximum weight and height limitations after which they should be placed in a belt-positioning booster seat
- 8-12 years of age – Kids should stay in the booster seat until they’re big enough (4’9”) for a seat belt to properly fit. A properly fitting seat belt should lie snugly across your child’s upper thighs, not their stomach. It will also lie snug across the shoulder and chest, not the neck and face.
- Up to 13 years of age – AAP and the NHTSA recommend all kids ride in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
While many parents believe following their state’s regulations on child seats is enough, it’s best to do your own research.
Don’t take risks with you kids and a car accident. Anything can happen in the flash of a second.
Original story published in the Fall 2011 issue of the Safety Report