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Baby on Board: Use rear facing car safety seats at least until age 2

How can you protect your "precious cargo?" Put them in the back seat, turn them around and buckle them down.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recently recommended that all infants ride in the back seat of all vehicles, in rear-facing car safety seats, starting with their first ride home from the hospital and continuing until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car safety seat's manufacturer. Sadly, according to AAP, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children 4 years old and older.

Types of rear-facing car safety seats

There are three types of rear-facing car safety seats: infant-only seats, convertible seats and three-in-one seats. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they should continue to face the back of the vehicle in a convertible seat or three-in-one seat.

Age Group Seat Type Guidelines
Infants/toddlers Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer.
Toddlers/preschoolers Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat, should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer.
School-aged children Booster seats All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
Older children Seat belts When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.

All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

May 2011

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics