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Rear-Facing Car Seat Guidelines Updated By The AAP

The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its recommendations for rear-facing car seats for children.

Previously, the academy encouraged families to have their kids remain rear-facing in car seats until at least age 2. Now, the age limit has been scratched, and the AAP recommends keeping kids in a rear-facing car seat for “as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.”

According to a Thursday press release from the AAP, the new recommendations came after the organization found that the journal Injury Prevention retracted the study on which the academy’s previous guidelines were based.

Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, is the lead author of the new policy statement. In the press release, he explained that there’s not enough data to determine the exact age to transition a child to a forward-facing seat and that keeping your child rear-facing “as long as possible is the best way to keep them safe.”

He added that car seat manufacturers nowadays offer seats built to keep kids rear-facing until they are 40 pounds or more, “which means most children can remain rear-facing past their second birthday.”

In an interview with NBC News, Hoffman said he’s aware parents enjoy checking off these milestones for their kids, but he recommends taking a step back to make sure they’re adhering to the academy’s guidelines. 

“They’re getting excited about turning their child around, from rear-facing to forward-facing,” Hoffman said. “But we want parents to balance that excitement and tamper that.”

Those looking to confirm the height and weight limits of their car seats can typically look in the product’s manuals or on its labels (be sure to check your state’s child passenger safety law, too).

Overall, the transitions, according to the AAP, include going from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing one with a harness and later to a “belt-positioning booster seat” until the child can ride with a shoulder seat belt alone. You can learn more about the ages and other measurements the academy uses with each childhood phase in its updated policy statement titled “Child Passenger Safety.”

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