If you're like me, you were crazy excited when you could finally turn your 20-pound one-year-old around to face forward in the car. Well it looks like I may have to wait until my second child is a two-year-old before I get to face her forward.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is changing the rules on car seat safety by advising parents to keep toddlers rear facing until they reach the weight and height limits of their particular car seat or until the child's second birthday. The AAP also says children should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they reach 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between ages 8 and 12. In addition, all children should ride in the backseat until the age of 13.

Why the Change in Policy?

According to the AAP, new research, particularly a 2007 study, shows that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to be seriously injured or killed if they are riding rear facing. The reason for this is that a rear-facing seat better protects the child's head, neck and spine because it acts differently in a crash than a forward-facing seat. The force of the collision is distributed throughout the entire body, rather than forcing the child's neck and head forward and therefore causing injury.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, car accidents are still the leading cause of death among children ages 3-14. Therefore the AAP is recommending forward-facing seats with harnesses be used rather than a booster seat until the child reaches the weight or height limit for the seat. However, a child is still better off in a booster seat versus just a seat belt, until the seat belt fits the child correctly.

Does Your Child Ride in the Right Seat?

Making sure your child is the right seat and that the seat is in your car properly can help protect your child from harm, but can be confusing. Just assuming the seat is in right isn't good enough. If you have any doubt or concerns, drive to the nearest inspecition stationfor assistance.

The New Policy Is Not a Law

These new recommendations from the AAP are just that, recommendations. However, the AAP feels that the number of injuries and fatalities among children in car crashes will drop if these recommendations are taken seriously by parents. Thanks in part to the previous AAP policies, crash-related child fatalities have dropped 45% from 1997 to 2009, and the group believes these new policies will help continue that trend.

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