Pediatricians drop the age limit for rear-facing auto seats

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While past recommendations indicated using children's auto seats until kids turn two, the new guidelines in this regard removed the age limit, arguing that safety measures must be taken until the children can use the cars' built-in seatbelts.

For optimal protection, all children under the age of 13 must be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just dropped the age criterion from its recommended vehicle seat guidelines.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is now updating its guidelines to reflect that.

"We just don't have a large enough set of data to determine with certainty at what age it is safest to turn children to be forward-facing", Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention Executive Committee, added in a statement.

"It's really important to keep them rear-facing as long as possible", said Natasha Young, who is mother to 5-month-old Soleil and a certified technician for the non-profit organization Safe Kids Worldwide. Under the new guidelines, most kids would keep using rear-facing seats until they're about 4 years old.

"If you're going to make a kid sit until they're four years old and they had known nothing different is one thing, but when you take a kid that's two and a half, turn them around and then three months later tell them they have to sit backwards is going to make for a really long and miserable auto ride", said Hunyor. "This is still the safest way for children to ride", Hoffman said. "But we want parents to balance that excitement and tamper that". Most convertible seats have limits that will allow children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.

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Children should remain in rear-facing seats until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the seat manufacturer.

Parents often look forward to transitioning from one stage or milestone to the next.

For Heather Squillacioti, ensuring her children's safety before every road trip is a priority.

It's not just the use of rear-facing seats the AAP wants parents to extend, but also the use of auto seats in general.

In its updated guidelines, the organization said that belt-positioning booster seats should be used until the lap and shoulder seat belts fit a child correctly. This is typically when they reach 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years old.

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