(CBS) — As you get ready to buckle the kids in the car to go to school or daycare, you might need to reconsider how they’re sitting. New recommendations suggest kids should be in rear-facing seats as long as possible.
Natasha Young is mother to 5-month-old Soleil, but she’s also a certified technician for Safe Kids Worldwide, and teaches other parents how to properly install a car seat.
She says it’s vital to keep young children in a rear-facing seat.
“It helps to protect them in the event of a crash. It keeps their head and neck safe,” she said.
The above video shows how a rear-facing seat can absorb a simulated crash compared to one that’s forward facing.
“It’s really important to keep them rear-facing as long as possible,” Young said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is now updating its guidelines to reflect that. The group used to recommend rear-facing seats until at least age 2. Now the academy wants parents to keep children in rear facing seats until they reach the maximum height and weight limit, even if they’re older than two.
“Even if their children’s legs are longer than the car seat, they can easily folder their legs up into the car seat, and it’s actually much safer for their legs,” Young said.
The new policy also recommends older kids stay in forward-facing safety seats and booster seats until they reach the maximum height and weight recommended by the manufacturer.
When it comes to rear-facing seats, Young says parents often make the mistake of turning their kids around too soon.
“A lot of times they like to see their child, entertain their child, especially if they are a little more fussy,” Young said.
But she said a little fussiness is better than putting a child at risk of being injured in a crash.
In Chicago, police will check to make sure your child’s car seat is correctly installed. Call 311 to find your local CAPS office and schedule an appointment.