Welcome to our little space on the net! This blog is just about our family life, and began as a way to keep family and friends updated on what was going on with my pregnancy with our first son, Gage. We've since added Evie to our family, and I continue to blog about family life, car seats, spina bifida, and anything else that catches my attention.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

FINALLY, a step in the right direction

Gage RF at 2 1/2 years old

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released their new guidelines for kids in car seats.  They are finally in line with the research that has been out there for AGES (seriously, the Swedes have known this stuff since the '60s!).  Here are the new guidelines found here:

Birth – 12 months
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1 – 3 years

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4 – 7 years
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8 – 12 years
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

Did you catch that?? 1-3 year olds should be REAR-FACING if at all possible.  Now, I know there are those 46lb 2.5 year olds that can't because we don't have car seats to accommodate that in the US, but the vast majority of kids CAN rear-face comfortably until at least their 2nd birthday, if not their 3rd. 

The other biggie I see here is the rec for older kids in boosters.  Seat belts were made for adults, not kids.  A booster's job is to boost the kid up, allowing the seat belt to fit properly.  They also provide "false hips" for kids whose hip bones haven't yet matured, and therefore aren't big enough or strong enough to take the force of the seatbelt across them and protect those soft organs from injury.  I see lots of 5, 6, and 7 year olds around here without boosters, and in the front seat.  That's a very dangerous way to ride.

I've posted many of these before, but just so you don't have to go looking, here are some videos and other links for this information. 

Car Seat Blog
This blog post really fleshes out the new recs, and answers some of the common questions parents have about keeping kids RF longer, or harnessed longer, or in a booster longer.

Joels Journey
Joel's Grandpa was the man on The Early Show this morning, talking about this.  I've had some email contact with him, myself.  He has put together a stellar page with links to the full-text studies that brought these new recs about.

Awesome short video showing exactly WHY RF is preferable.  This is a foreign video, so no chest clip on the car seat shown.

And The Early Show segment with Joel's grandpa, including some crash test footage


Lastly, if you have ANY questions, any at all, you can leave a comment here, email me at jesscpst@gmail.com, or visit www.car-seat.org. You can post a question there without even registering.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Thanks for posting, I was so excited to read the news!