While I don’t always agree with the AAP, especially concerning things like vaccinations, I am wholeheartedly pleased at their newest recommendations. And while I can’t take credit for this blog, as I copied and pasted it directly from my friend, El’s blog, I can’t pass up the opportunity to share.
Side note: El is amazing and her son, Seth, is getting ready to receive a set of bilateral cochlear implants on Thursday. Pray for them please.
I love me some deaf babies.
So without futher ado:
It seems a carseat blog is in order. Or, you know, another one.
First off, I am so excited! The American Academy of Pediatrics just revised their stance on rear facing! This has been a long time coming and I am so thrilled. The LAW is that infants must rear face until one year of age AND 20 pounds. However, that is just the law, and as many laws do, it falls short and is outdated. It is MUCH safer (we call it Best Practice) to keep your baby rear facing until the age of two AND the limits of their carseat...five times safer, in fact. The AAP has finally put it in writing here.
Now, now. I know what you’re going to say. If their feet touch the backseat, won’t their legs be broken? What if they’re not comfortable? But they want to face forward like a big kid!
None of those things are true, I promise. Number one, there has NEVER been a documented case of a baby or child’s legs being broken because they were rear facing. Not one. Even if it was a concern, I would choose a broken leg over a broken neck any day. Two, they’re comfortable, no matter how big they are. My older kids are off the charts (above the hundredth percentile) for height and weight, and they both stayed rearfacing until the limits of their seats. Jace until he was two, Ava until she was two and a half. They both had long legs and were perfectly comfortable rear facing. Jace usually sat criss cross applesauce. Third, they don’t want to be forward facing. They don’t know what forward facing is. I find a lot of times as parents, we project our feelings on to our kids…we want to see them forward facing like a big kids. We wouldn’t be comfortable facing backwards all scrunched up, so they must not be either. It’s important to remember that kids are not little adults and that they don’t act like adults.
I’d like to make the point now: if your baby is forward facing, it’s not too late to turn them back around. Alli?
So…point one. Keep your baby rear facing. It’s worth all the hassle, I promise. After they outgrow their infant seat, they should go into a rear facing convertible seat until they reach at least 2 years of age. They are so much safer it’s not even funny. Here is a comparison of crash forces rear facing versus forward facing…it’s definitely worth taking a look.
Now let’s move on. After you child turns forward facing, they should stay in a five point harness until a minimum of four years of age AND 40 pounds. Again, that’s a minimum. My children, at 3.5 and 4.5 are still in 5 point harnesses (in a Britax Frontier and Graco Nautilus, for trivia fans), and they’ll stay in them until about age 6, when I think kids begin to be more capable of self control in the car.
Ahem, are you listening Jennifer?!?
The thing about booster seats is that they simply boost the child up to make the seatbelt fit them correctly. I like to say that putting a kid in a booster is like putting them in charge of their own safety in the car, whereas in a 5 point harness, you are still responsible for them. If they unbuckle, wiggle, lean, or fidget, they’re probably not ready for a booster, or at the very least, they need booster training.
So how to do you keep your child harnessed until they’re around 6? With a seat that is extended harnessing friendly. You want to get a seat that has a high weight limit (50-80 lbs…don’t waste money on a 40 lb seat unless you have someone to pass it down to), and tall top slots.
The bottom line is, who want’s to parent by the minimums? If you were told that you could either do the bare minimum and your child would get by in school, or you could follow best practice and help them excel, what would you choose? I know I want to be a Best Practice Parent. in every area.
The great thing is that every day, more and more cost effective car seat choices are coming out! Brands are not the most important part, but longevity and ease of use is. I try very hard to counsel my parents on how to spend their money wisely and buy the right seats that will get them through their child(rens) carseat years. In many cases, when there are multiple children involved, we try and make sure that a current purchase will be a suitable hand me down seat later.
As a disclaimer, seats are only safe to hand down if you know their history, they are not expired, and if you have all the pieces and the manual. Most seats expire after six years from the date of manufacture, not purchase, although there are some that are good for less or more time. There will be a date on a sticker or stamped into your seat that will tell you either when your seat was manufactured or when it expires.
That being said, I do have some favorites. For an infant seat (seats that are rear facing only), the Chicco Keyfit and the Graco Snugride 32 are great choices, although Seth rides in an Orbit Infant Seat because I fell in love with it and got it as a shower gift.
Convertible seats (seats that convert from rear facing to forward facing) I enjoy are the Britax Boulevard or Marathon , the First Years True Fit, and my very favorite, the Sunshine Kids Radian . The Radian does an amazing job fitting kids all the way from their first trip home from the hospital until they’re ready for a booster.
Again, the most important thing is that your seat fits your child (they are under the weight limit and their shoulders are below the top slots forward facing), your car (less than an inch of movement side to side when installed), and your budget, and that you buckle them properly each and every time. This means no slack in the harness.
I hope this was helpful! Please feel free to ask any questions.