The Car-Seat Conundrum

by Colette Moran

Just last week Greg Pollowitz linked to a story about Prince William putting his newborn son in his car seat incorrectly. Well, apparently we’re all doing it wrong. This article is from March 21, 2011 — how many of us missed this? Emphasis mine.

Everything you thought you knew about car seats is wrong. Okay, not everything, but things have changed and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced new guidelines today. And it’s big news. The recommendation is that children rear face longer and they also changed the details for kids in boosters. . . .

New Rear-facing Recommendation: Parents are to keep children rear-facing until 2 years old, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for the seat as noted in the manual. . . .

New Boostering Recommendation: Children should ride in a belt-positioning booster (that means a high-back!) until they are at least 4 foot, 9 inches, AND 8-12 years old. . . .

Beyond that, all kids need to stay out of the front until they’re at least 13 years old. Make sure you’re using the car seats correctly, too. There’s a lot of intricacies for both harnessed seats and boosters. When in doubt, find a Safe Kids inspection station or event and get checked out by a tech. And hopefully more and more pediatricians, with these new recommendations, will be on board as well, and we can maybe put an end to vehicle related-injuries being the number one cause of death in kids ages 2-14.

For all our kvetching, it’s those last words that hit home. Yes, it seems extreme and, yes, it seems that parents are being guilted ad nauseum. But when one considers the benefit of following simple precautions (despite how difficult it may be to get the legs of a tall 18-month-old to fit comfortably when rear-facing) and the heart-breaking cost of not following them . . . all right, all right. We’ll do it.

And for those willing to take it to the upper limit, the $750 Carkoon is on the way to store shelves. Its slogan is “when safe is not safe enough.” 

UPDATE: And now it appears the rules are changing again.