New car seat safety recommendations for parents

When you have a baby, there are suddenly a whole slew of safety concerns you’d never before considered. Is your furniture properly baby-proofed? Is the crib free of suffocation hazards? Is the baby within reach of anything they could potentially choke on?

And that’s just before you leave the house. When you head out into the world, you encounter an entirely new set of obstacles. For many new parents, the car seat may raise a lot of questions. In today’s post, we discuss two key pieces of safety information any parent should have about how to best use their child’s car seat.

Which car seat is best?

There are two main categories of car seats to choose from: the infant carrier and the convertible car seat. While a convertible car seat may be used for infants, the infant carrier offers the most protection for newborn babies. Nonetheless, the convertible car seat has important safety benefits for babies who are slightly older.

Consumer Reports conducted a series of crash tests involving both types of car seat. Each car seat contained a 22-pound dummy—representing a one-year-old baby. The study found that in 53 percent of crashes involving infant carriers, the dummy’s head crashed into the front seat back. By contrast, this only happened in 4 percent of crashes with the convertible car seat.

A convertible car seat has a longer protective shell—which is more effective at shielding the head of an older—and therefore taller—baby. Parents should ensure they move their baby into a convertible car seat once the baby reaches the infant carrier’s height restrictions—and no later than their first birthday.

Which direction is best?

New parents may already realize that their baby’s car seat should be rear-facing to start. But at what age should the baby be moved to a forward-facing position?

Previously, the recommendation has been to move toddlers into forward-facing car seats when they’re two years old. However, new evidence has emerged showing that rear-facing is the safest position for a child—as long as they have not exceeded the car seat’s height and weight restrictions for that orientation. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends using these limits as a benchmark for when to transition a child into a forward-facing car seat. For some children, this may not occur until they are four years old.

No parent wants to imagine being involved in a car accident with their baby in tow. When such accidents occur, trauma to the head and spine are the principal causes of infant injury or death. Following these safety guidelines can provide crucial added protection to your little one.

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