Image: Image via Flickr user Lawrence Whittemore under a Creative Commons license
Here’s a sobering stat: Each year, 1,500 kids under age 16 die in car crashes in the United States, according to a new statement published in the journal Pediatrics. Many experts believe the scary number of fatalities are the result of improper car seat usage, since correctly-used car seats have been shown to reduce car accident-related deaths in babies and children nearly 30 percent more than seat belts. Thing is, we all believe we’re using the car seats correctlybut it turns out that many parents have misinterpreted the 2002 American Academy of Pediatrics car seat guidelines.
Today, the AAP is clearing things up with a comprehensive set of updated recommendations to help parents choose the best car seats for their childrenand use them correctly. The most important message? Infants and babies should ride in rear-facing car seats until age two, or until they reach they highest height and weight allowed by the car seat manufacturer. (According to the AAP, many parents believed babies only needed to ride in rear-facing car seats until they turned one.)
Some of the other big recommendations:
After age two, little kids should ride in forward-facing seats with harnesses until they turn four or have outgrown the seat.
Once a child reaches 4’9″, she should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until she’s able to use the seat belt alone.
Kids under 13 who can use a seat belt alone still need to sit in the back seat.
Parents can purchase Car Safety Seats: A Guide for Families 2011 online for $22, or download a free sample at the AAP Bookstore website .