To get you up to speed (pun always intended) the recommendations for car seat guidelines for infants, toddlers and kids up to age 13 changed recently. So what are they? Should we pay attention? A favorite Breezy Mama Go-to pediatrician Dr. Gillin answers these questions and more. Plus! What dangerous things parents do that drives (get it?) her crazy.
What is the new recommendations regarding kids and seat belts?
The American Academy of Pediatrics published an updated technical report with specific recommendations about child passenger safety in April 2011.
Basically it recommends what is the safest for children while riding in the car:
1. Infants and toddlers less than 2 years old should face backwards, or until they reach the maximum height of the car seat. This is the biggest CHANGE!!! We previously recommended age 1 year!!
2. Kids should then be in a forward facing car seat until they reach the maximum height or weight for the car seat.
3. After that, they should be in a booster until they have reached the height for that (typically 4 foot 9 inches, or age 8-12 years).
4. Kids less than 13 years old should be in the backseat.
Is it the same in every state? Or what is the variance in each state?
This recommendation applies to everyone. This is a recommendation by the AAP, not a law. The laws do vary by state…..but what’s more important….a ticket, or the safety of your child?! These recommendations are for your child’s safety. So even though they are more “strict” than the law, it is better to be safe!
Why was the new recommendation(s) instated?
To provide added protection to our kids. Car accidents are still one of the leading causes of death in children- so we need to provide as much protection as we can.
Do you agree with the recommendation?
I do. These recommendations are pretty conservative, but they are the most safe for our kids.
I think we actually need this recommendation to remind families about the importance of car safety. On a daily basis, I see kids over 4 years of age without boosters, and kids in the front seats of cars. It makes me crazy!! If these families only knew that having them in the back seat, and using a booster could save their kid’s life!
As for the recommendation to have the car seat having backwards until age 2 years- this is good information to know that it is actually safer for the child –it is really tempting to have the child face forward, so the recommendation reinforces the importance. Also, in the state of California the law is 1 year- which is not as safe as the 2 year recommendation. So it is important to educate families on what is the safest.
Breezy Mama did a piece a while back that it is now recommended that car seats be rear facing until age 4. What is your opinion on that?
I am not so sure about that- I agree that it would be nice to be as safe as possible for as long as possible- but I am not so sure where their legs and feet would go- they are already pushing the limit of height at 2 years.
What are some common mistakes in general parents make when it comes to kids in the car?
Installing the car seat properly. There are state services (highway patrol) that will check your car seat installation for you. Especially with the seat belts, and the latch system- it can all get pretty confusing. So you should have it checked.
And remember to check that your car seat is clicked in after a car wash- sometimes they will unbuckle it and leave it in the same spot unbuckled! If you have a car seat in the car unattached, it is a good idea to have that car seat flipped on its side- so everyone knows it is not installed.
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Shakha Gillin, M.D., F.A.A.P. attended UCSD for her undergraduate education and medical school (and if she looks familiar that’s because she’s the twin sister of Breezy go-to dermatoligist Dr. Vi). She practiced pediatrics in La Jolla for 5 years before joining El Camino Pediatrics. She has also worked in private practice in Newport Beach and in the Rady Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. Dr. Shakha Gillin has a special interest in preventative care, particularly healthy and active lifestyles for children. She was recognized by San Diego Magazine as a “Top Doctor” in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. She also organizes the North County Pediatric Journal Club, an every other month meeting where local pediatricians discuss the latest pediatric medical topics.