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Moms Talk: Will You Follow New Car Seat Recommendations?

The American Academy of Pediatrics a week ago released new recommendations for children to ride in car seats. Weigh in on the issue here.

Car seats have gone through many changes over time, beginning many decades ago as drawstring sacks and progressing to today's heavily padded and harnessed seats.

Laws and recommendations for car seat use also have changed. In Minnesota, the law states that a child restraint must be used until the child is 7 years old or 57 inches tall, and then it's OK to put the child in an adult seat belt; the fine for violating the law is $50.

But the most recent changes in recommendations (not laws) for using car seats came a week ago from the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a report in the Pediatrics medical journal.

This article from the Pioneer Press provides more details on the changes and why experts back them, including statistics from various child-safety studies. In sum:

  • Children should remain in rear-facing car seats until at least age 2, reversing the recommendation that they could be turned face-forward after a child turned 1.
  • Children should sit in a five-point harness seat for as long as possible, then move to a booster seat when they've outgrown the height and weight limits for the harness seat.
  • Children should then sit in a booster seat until they exceed 4 feet 9 inches in height, which they usually reach between ages 8 and 12.
  • Children should sit in the back seat of a car until age 13.

After reading the recommendations, how do you feel about them? Do you already follow them, or will you alter your habits to follow them? What factors do you weigh when determining what type of seat to put your child in, which direction it faces and when you child should move to a booster or adult seat belt?

Our six-member Moms Council—including, , , and —is ready to weigh in on the discussion this week and encourage you to share your thoughts as well.

Post your thoughts, advice or questions in the comments section below. Also, if you're interested in joining our Moms Council, e-mail Editor David Henke at david.henke@patch.com.

Jodi Saari March 28, 2011 at 09:35 PM
I couldn't believe it when I read these recommendations....2 years old! I'm very thankful that we are beyond that point, because I don't think we would have followed this recommendation. By two, both of my girls were way too tall to fit facing backwards. I don't even know where their legs would have gone! So that part we would have passed on. Our youngest did stay facing backwards until she was about 18 months, but that was because of her weight. Once that picked up, there is no way she would have fit. As for the booster, we'll be okay with that one. Both girls are in the 95% or more for height, so they'll hit the height requirement long before the age of 12. Avery is in a wheelchair, so she will always be restricted to how she is restrained in a vehicle. And at the ages of 4 and 2, I don't think the girls even realize that they can ride in the front seat!
Kathee March 29, 2011 at 03:18 PM
My 11 yr old. daughter is tall and weighs 113 lbs. My 10 yr old son weighs 90 lbs. and average height. My daughter has started sitting in the front seat the last couple months. My son prefers to sit in the back, however his reasoning is due to sunlight vs his Nintendo DSi. There was no way my kids would have lasted in a reverse seat until the age of 2. They were already cramped by age 1 and exceeded the weight restrictions. They were in forward facing car seats and eventually booster seats. We had to stop using the booster seats when they would get out of the car and the booster seat was still attached. After prying my children out of them one too many times, we got rid of the booster seats.
Dyane Garvey March 31, 2011 at 06:36 PM
I second Jodi's and Kathy's sentiments about rear-facing seating up to age 2. Both my girls will be finishing primary school this year and next year so we don't use car seats anymore but when they were 2 they were too long and big for rear-facing seating. We went to the 5-point car seat and they sat facing forward strapped tightly in the back seat. As for sitting in a car seat until age 7 or 57 pounds. My kids were in a booster seats (in the back) through age 7. Our preteen is over 100 pounds so she can occasionally sit in the front passenger seat (when there is no seating in the back) but our general rule is that it's not reserved for her until she is 13 when we feel she is developmentally able to take the impact of an air bag. We still have our booster seats for other children who might ride in our car.
Niki Seabright April 01, 2011 at 02:46 PM
We still have both our children, ages 7 and 4, in booster seats. I plan to use them for quite some time to come with my 7-year old. I want to make sure the seatbelt isn't anywhere near the neck. I had my children facing backwards until around the age of 1 when their weight and height met the requirements. I can't imagine having them face backwards until age 2. But I can see why the laws have changed. Children's necks aren't as strong and facing backwards is better for them. Better safe than sorry!
Lara N. April 13, 2011 at 09:21 PM
My twins are almost 4, and we waited for the maximum of age AND height/weight before we had their seats facing forward. Even then, it was worrisome because their heads flopped around when they snoozed. I had to buy two sets of strap-attached neck supports for them. Now that they're older, and we have a minivan with reclining rear seats, I can just recline their seats so they're fine when they nap in the car. I'm firmly in support of the five-point harnesses - my girls could wiggle out of the 3-points ones! When we first got our carseats for them, we invested in ones that converted from infant seats to carseats, to booster seats, so we wouldn't be spending more every few years. And I completely support the age limit on kids riding in the front - airbags can kill if someone is vertically challenged! It was a pain waiting so long to have them front facing, we had our own front seats scrunched up that it was a bit annoying, but since it was safer for the kids, we did it. Now, two years old would have been difficult, so I'm glad my kids are older now. I'd be interested in why specifically the requirement has been changed to 2yrs old. Is there perhaps some add-on that could circumvent this and make it safer for someone under 2 to ride facing forward under the previous requirements?

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