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Kids Should Now Sit Rear-Facing ‘As Long As Possible’

New AAP guidelines recommend parents keep their kids rear-facing until they outgrow the car seat, regardless of age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their child car seat guidelines today and are now recommending that parents keep infants and toddlers rear-facing until they reach the maximum height and weight allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat, regardless of age. It’s a big change that science supports and safety advocates have long been pushing for.

In the past, experts have recommended kids be kept in the rear-facing position until infants are at least 2-years-old. The new guidelines from the AAP ⏤ which are updated every three years ⏤ focus instead on an infant’s size and not their age. Dr. Ben Hoffman, the AAP chairperson to the Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Protection explained that the change was made as a result of new child car safety research.

“The last time this policy was reevaluated there had not been a lot of new data,” Hoffman told  NBC News, “But in the last year, there has been a significant change in what we know about the relative protection of car seats.” New research indicates that infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats “for as long as possible.” 

Another factor that contributed to the change was a 2016 Texas lawsuit in which car seat manufacturer Dorel Juvenile Inc. was found to have caused life-altering injuries to a 20-month year old by not properly warning parents of the risks of improper car seat positioning. Given that thousands of kids are injured in automobile accidents each year, the hope is that this change will bring those numbers down.