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Moms Talk: Car Seat Safety for Toddlers

In this week's Moms Talk, we ask for your opinion regarding the latest policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics about car seat placement and safety.

Excited and nervous new parents carefully place their newborns in a rear-facing position as they drive home. Wanting to keep their children as safe as possible from injury, parents look toward trusted and established authorities for safety guidelines.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a new policy statement advising parents to keep toddlers in rear-facing car seats until the age of two, or until the toddler exceeds the height or weight limit for the car seat. Prior to this new policy statement issued by the AAP in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the AAP stated that parents could switch toddlers at the age of one with a 20-pound minimum weight from rear-facing to front-facing car seats. 

Many parents and pediatricians followed this recommendation and switched their toddlers based on that criteria. Based on studies regarding toddler seat placement and injury, the AAP now strongly recommends that parents strictly adhere to the new guidelines.

According to Dennis Durbin, M.D., a pediatric emergency physician and main author of the AAP policy statement: “A rear-facing child safety seat does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash, because it distributes the force of the collision over the entire body.”

Please share with us in the comments your opinion regarding this new safety guideline issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Thank you!

A special thanks to our Moms Council: Patrice Athanasidy, Laura Belfiore, Carolyn DePaolo, Laurie Gershgorn and Kelly Galimi.

Kelly Galimi April 06, 2011 at 07:55 PM
Patrice, two out of four of my kids were tall too as toddlers. You raise a very good point about comfort. The type of vehicle makes a big difference for a comfortable ride too.
Laura Belfiore April 07, 2011 at 03:45 AM
My daughter's legs are long as well, and she's only one. I brought up this concern with her Dr. who brought up a good point in return. He said that the damage from 2 broken legs won't likely be as damaging to her body as the damage to her spine and neck if she was facing forward and an accident occurred. It's a "lesser of two evils" scenario I suppose. Thank you for that link Kelly- I was surprised to learn that it's suggested that children do NOT wear their coats in car seats. (Page 5 of 13). I hadn't known that. Now that the weather is getting warmer, and we're moving into sweater wearing temperatures, it shouldn't be as much of a concern. But even though I strap my daughter in snugly, I hadn't considered the bulkiness of her winter coat to be issue. Good to know.
Kelly Galimi April 07, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Laura, I think that your doctor brings up a very valid point when it comes to the severity of injury depending on the position of the seat. I also thought that it was interesting about not wearing the coat in the car seat. I always felt that it was not only uncomfortable for the kids, but also made the kids less mobile. That could turn out to be a safety concern in the case of a crash.
Patrice E. Athanasidy April 08, 2011 at 03:25 PM
The lesser of two evils makes sense. Peter, however, was on his own height curve (still is). I honestly am not sure he would have fit at all facing the rear until age 2.
Dyanna April 17, 2011 at 10:20 AM
My kids were tall too. There is no way they would have made it to 2 with a rear facing car seat. As for the coat issue, yes the coat can create a space between the car seat belts and the child's chest. They recommend that bulky coats be taken off before a child is belted into a car seat. Great article Kel!!

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