Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New recommendations....

The AAP and NHTSA now recommend keeping your child in a rear facing child restraint as long as possible.  Young children have immature bones and connective tissue and are 75% less likely to be injured in a crash if they are rear facing.  If a child is placed in a forward facing child restraint too early, they can suffer fatal injuries to their neck and spine.  A rear facing child restraint is outgrown when either 1-the rear facing weight limit has been met or 2- there is less than 1” between the top of the child’s head and the top of the child restraint shell.  Feet hanging off the child restraint or touching the vehicle seat does NOT mean the child has outgrown the child restraint.  Children naturally sit with their legs crossed or bent and this will not be uncomfortable for your child.
    Once they reach the maximum height and weight limits to be rear facing, they should then move to a forward facing 5 point harness child restraint.  Children need to remain in these as long as possible. There are many child restraints on the market that provide a higher weight and height limit to keep your children in a 5 point harness longer.
    Next, they will move into a booster seat with the bare minimum being 4 years old and 40 pounds.  A high back booster seat provides better side impact protection than a no back booster.  The AAP and NHTSA are also recommending that children stay in a booster seat until they are 8-12 years old, depending on when they pass the 5 step test:  1-The child sits all the way back with the hips and back against the back of the vehicle seat. 2-The child’s legs bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat. 3-The lap belt lays low on the hips, not on the soft tissue of their belly.  4- The shoulder belt lays across the chest and shoulder, not on the neck or arm.  5-The child can remain seated correctly for the entire trip.  If you answer no to any of these they need to remain in a booster seat. The 5 step test applies to every vehicle the child will be riding in.
  • Read both your vehicle manual and child restraint manual before installing your child restraint.
  • There should be no more than 1” of movement of the child restraint (front to back and side to side).
  • While rear facing, the harness needs to be AT or BELOW your child’s shoulders.
  • While forward facing, the harness needs to be AT or ABOVE your child’s shoulders.
  • The chest clip needs to be at armpit level.
  • The harness needs to be “snug as a hug.” You should not be able to pinch any slack at the child’s shoulders.
  • Never use a child restraint if it has been in a crash.
  • Check the expiration date on your child restraint.  They DO expire!
    Logan-14 months, rear facing in a Graco MyRide 65
  • Never buy a used child restraint or accept a seat from someone else unless they are someone you trust with your child’s life.

Evan-almost 4, extended rear facing in a Safety First Complete Air 65.  Bent legs are not an issue, he has never complained about being uncomfortable.
Matthew- almost 6 and extended harnessed in a Britax Frontier 85. 


  1. YAY I am your first follower :)

  2. Danielle,

    I see that your son Evan is in a Safety First Air. That is the car seat I have for my two-year-old daughter. However, when I install it rear-facing and following the directions to align the level line with the ground, she is completely reclined. She is not sitting up as Evan is but laying down like an infant, which she doesn't not like AT ALL. Can you explain how you installed it so that Evan is not reclined?

    Thank you,


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