Children must stay in rear-facing car seats for a certain amount of time, but many parents are choosing to keep their kids rear-facing even longer than legally required. Research shows that children are safer riding in rear-facing car seats, and there are many reasons why.
Though not all children like riding rear-facing, it's the safer option. A rear-facing car seatrestrains the head as well as protects the neck, spine, and legs in the event of an accident. Being in a rear-facing car seat substantially reduces the risk of a child dying in a car accident, even if they are already nearing two years old. Rear-facing car seats are more restricting, keeping a child in place and allowing for less movement of the head and neck. This is both the reason children often dislike them and the reason they work so well to prevent major injuries in case of a car accident.
Even if your child dislikes the rear-facing approach, they need to stay in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least two years old. In fact, new recommendations advise parents to leave their children in rear-facing car seats until they outgrow them. This can mean a child could potentially stay in a rear-facing car seatuntil the age of four. The chance of a child dying during a car wreck decreases substantially when a child is rear-facing, so there is no reason to be in a hurry to turn him around. Even if a child looks like his legs are cramped in the rear-facing position, he is still better protected and not at risk of any problems due to his legs being bent.
Years ago, the weight and height limits on rear-facing car seats felt much more restricted. However, the new recommendations from both the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that kids should stay in rear-facing car seats as long as possible means changes to accommodations. It's now possible to find car seats that hold kids who weigh more than 40 pounds and are four feet tall. Look for the seat that will keep your child rear-facing the longest and invest in that one. It will last and keep you from having to purchase another rear-facing seat to grow with your child.
Adhering to laws about car seat use is important, but it's a good idea to go even beyond minimum requirements when it comes to rear-facing car seats. The protection they offer can't be replicated, and it's worth it to keep a child in one for as long as possible.
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