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The Informed Parent

New Infant And Child Car Seat Recommendations

by Shanna R. Cox, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jul. 18, 2011
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Within the last couple of months, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a revised policy statement for car safety seats. There are a few modifications that are important for every parent and caregiver to understand to assure the safety of children in automobiles.

  1. Keep infants and toddlers facing backwards until age two. This can be accomplished by using the infant seat and then switching to a convertible, or 3 in 1 seat. The convertible can be used rear facing until the child is two years of age or has exceeded the rear facing measurement specifications of the particular seat. Remember, an infant seat should not be placed in the line of an airbag that could deploy and cause excessive force to be delivered to a baby’s head.
  2. Once over two years of age, or physically beyond the weight and height specifications of the above available rear facing car seats, toddlers are placed in a forward facing seat. These still have a five-point restraint system. They remain in this full seat and restraint system until at least six years or sixty pounds of weight. Of note, many seats in this category are now extending to weight accommodations of eight-to-one hundred pounds.
  3. Generally considered school age at six years, children are often transitioned into a booster seat with adjusted rear seat shoulder and lap belt. Use of a high back booster or backless booster generally depends on how the back seat may support the child’s head and back. In a low bench seat with no head support, a high back booster would likely be more appropriate. Children are to remain in a booster seat until they reach a height of 4 feet, 9 inches.
  4. After a child reaches 4 feet, 9 inches, which may occur from age eight onwards for most, the child may transition to a full shoulder and lap belt system of the car. It is recommended that children remain in the back seat of the car until after age twelve, and should not put the shoulder strap under their arm but keep it across the chest for optimal protection.
  5. Parents may search online and read the AAP 2011 Policy Statement on car seats, or read through “safety on the go” information, outlined at healthychildren.org.



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