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The AAP's Car Seat Policy Has Changed and Here’s What You Should Know

Kids should ride rear-facing longer than initially recommended.


istockphoto.com / SolStock

It’s a startling statistic: Car crashes are the leading cause of death for kids ages 4 and up, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). And new research shows we should be doing things a little differently.

The AAP just updated its report Child Passenger Safety in light of new evidence found in the last 10 years (to be published in AAP’s November issue). Not much has changed in the policy, but there’s one key alteration: it no longer says that a child should go from rear- to forward-facing in the car seat at age 2. Instead, they should ride facing the rear for as long as possible, or up to the car seat’s safety limits which means most kids ages 4 and younger.

The rest sounds familiar. Kids should stay in forward-facing seats up to the seat’s height and weight limits. Then comes the booster seat, then the lap and shoulder seatbelt once they’re big enough. Oh, and tell your tween whose begging to sit in the front that he or she will have to wait until age  13.

If you have worries or questions, think of it this way: Kids essentially should stay at each stage–from cooing facing the back seat to calling shotgun–for as long as possible.

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