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Car Seat Safety: How to Keep Your Child Safe

Posted on Sep 17, 2018

Rachel Dawkins, M.D.

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines about kids in rear-facing car seats. Rachel Dawkins, M.D., from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital explains the changes.

True or False: Only babies should be rear facing

False! The American Academy of Pediatrics has said for the past few years that children should remain facing backward at least until 2 years old. The new guidelines change the recommendation to “as long as possible” until the child outgrows his or her convertible car seat and changes to a booster seat. The new recommendation means that some kids should be riding backward facing beyond 2 years old.

True or False: Children are safer rear facing

True! Because kids have big heads proportional to their body, they are at higher risk for neck and spine injuries when forward facing during a crash. In Europe, they’ve been keeping kids backward facing much longer than we have in the United States. Death or serious injury to children in accidents is rare in Europe when compared to the United States.

True or False: Kids’ legs are too long to be seated facing backward in the car after age 1

False! This is the most common concern I hear from parents. We all know kids are flexible. Most toddlers have no problem putting their own feet in their mouth. Children can bend their legs easily and find a comfortable position. Sitting rear facing will not hurt a child’s growth or cause joint pain.

True or False: School-age children should be in a booster seat until they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches.

True! Most people are unaware that school-age children need to be restrained in a booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches. This might mean that kids as old as 12 might still need a booster seat. These seats help position the seatbelt properly. Kids younger than 13 should also always ride in the backseat of the car.

Visit to find more information on car seat classes and car seat checks.

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.

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