"In a new policy published in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online March 21), the AAP advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat."
The bare minimum recommendation used to be 1 year and 20 pounds to turn your child forward facing. Now the AAP is finally getting their guidelines up to date with the minimums that car seat technicians have been recommending for years. These days, combination car seats can rear face somewhere between 33-45 pounds. They also recommend that when rear-facing is outgrown,
that the child should be in a harnessed forward facing seat before moving on to a booster seat. Many harnessed seats can accomodate a child as heavy as 65 or even 80 pounds. When it comes to MY children I am not going to turn them at merely the minimum safety recommendations.
"New research has found children are safer in rear-facing car seats. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing." I want to make sure my kids are 100% less likely to die or be injured in a crash. Maybe not realistic, but I am going to do everything in my power to try.
For those of you who think- I never even had a car seat and I was fine take a look at this:
"Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of kids under the age of 14, and the use of car seats has helped to decrease the collision-related death rate in children from birth to age 4 by almost 50% since 1975." http://www.thechildrenshospital.org/wellness/info/news/54744.aspx
All I can say is: Daddy L. I am glad you made it through the your childhood.
I rear-faced Munchkin until 22 months until I finally caved to peer pressure to turn him. People thought I was nuts, but now I feel my decision to keep him rear facing as long as I did has been validated by the AAP. I intend to keep Pumpkin rear-facing until he is at least 33 pounds. If he grows anything like Munchkin- he will be 3 years old before I let him forward face in his car seat. Pumpkin has plenty of room for his legs and even if he grows super tall it is totally fine if he crosses his legs or hangs them over the side. People worry that by rear facing kids legs would be injured in a crash- They most likely would be fine but personally I would much rather have my kids legs injured than their spine or neck!
Munchkin is 4 & 1/2 and over 50 pounds. While most of the kids his age are in belt positioning booster seats, Munchkin is going to have to be in a harnessed seat for a while longer. We gave the booster a trial run while on vacation and while Munchkin is very well behaved, he is not ready to sit still in a booster. He was wiggling all over the place. I just can't be sure that he will sit correctly 100% of the time. If my almost 5 year old, is not ready for a booster there is no way a 2 or 3 year old could handle it maturity wise, whether they are 40 pounds or not.
I realize (as do most of my friends and family) that I am a little... car seat crazy but I feel very strongly about my children's safety. It drives me nuts when people have no problem spending $2000 on a giant TV but buy a 20 year old car seat for $10 at a yard sale. Used car seat could have been in a crash or expired. Yes-They Expire! If you can't afford a new car seat, there are some out there that are under $40 that are safe. You don't need to spend $300 for all the bells and whistles. A basic Cosco Scenera is only $39 at walmart right now and can rear face to 35 pounds. (The model that rear faces to 40 pounds is usually a little more expensive but is on sale at Meijer right now for just 99 cents more.) To keep your child harnessed to 50 pounds a relatively affordable seat is the Evenflo Maestro. It's $79.99 at Toysrus and if you can find a 20% off coupon, even better! Some WIC offices and police departments have or can help you obtain a car seat at no charge if money is really tight. One way or another, there is a way to have your child in a safe child restraint.
When it comes down to it, yes, it is a personal parental decision. I urge you to do your own research on car seat safety and decide for yourself. Just because you already forward faced your 12 month old doesn't mean you can't turn them back around. :)
Child restrain laws in your area
Massachusetts says child restraints must be used for children "
Disclaimer: I am not a car seat technician. I am simply a mom that feels very strongly about car seat safety.