Technical Analyst, MSC
Ready to get your toddler out of that rearward facing child seat and into a forward facing seat? Not so fast. With crashes being the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14 years, "early graduation" from infant, rearward facing, forward facing, and booster seats continues to be an issue for child safety advocates and organizations.
Previous recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) were that children should remain in a rearward facing car seat until they are at least one year and weigh at least 20 lbs. However, in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the AAP recommends that children remain in rearward facing car seats until age two--or until the child exceeds the height and weight limits of the child seat. Read the AAP's press release (03/21/11).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also made revisions to its recommendations based on the latest statistics on child injury in crashes. NHTSA is advising that children stay in rearward facing seats and booster seats as long as possible. NHTSA also recommends that the height and weight limits of the child seat be used as a guideline for transitioning to the next stage child seat. Learn more at NHTSA's website.
The instruction manuals that accompany newly-purchased child safety seats provide specifications on height and weight limits. These instruction manuals also provide instructions on how to properly install the child restraints. If you need additional assistance with child safety seat installation, locate a child safety seat inspection station near you.