Last April, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their guidelines to recommend parents keep their children in rear-facing car seats until at least the age of two. To determine if parents are receiving that important safety message, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Heath found that 73 percent of parents turned the seat around prior to two years of age and 30 percent prior to one year.
Published today, the study was conducted in May 2011 with parents of 7- to 48-month-old children. The hospital study also noted how parents receive their information regarding forward-facing seats. They found that 72 percent refer to the car seat packaging, 68 percent say a doctor or nurse, and 57 percent from national groups such as the AAP or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Fifty-two percent consult friends or family.
While it’s important to look at packaging instructions, the study notes that they sometimes do not match up with the latest and best recommendations that are communicated through health care providers and national organizations.
Children who grow out of their infant seat, should switch to a convertible seat in the rear-facing orientation, which allows children to sit in that direction until they reach the rear-facing limit of the child restraint, which is usually between 35 and 40 pounds. Children who sit facing the rear are five times safer in a frontal crash because the seat shell distributes the force from the collision over the entire body.
During this Child Passenger Safety Week, parents are reminded to be informed about the safety of their children in vehicles. Last week, we noted a study that found that parents still make errors when installing car seats. To ensure that your child safety seat is fitted properly, have your vehicle inspected by a certified child passenger safety technician. To find an inspection station near you, look to seatcheck.org or on the NHTSA website. This Saturday, September 24th, is National Seat Check Saturday where inspection events will be held nationwide. It is a great opportunity to have your car seats checked to ensure they are properly installed.
If you are in the market for a new car seat, check out our Ratings of infant, convertible and booster seats.
Convertible car seats
Common Mistakes when Installing car Seats--What to Watch For
Car Seat Installation: Tricks-of-The-Trade
Safe driving with children
Car seat timeline
Guide to kids and car safety