It may seem like the rules for car seat use are constantly changing. Research in this area has been moving along lately, which has resulted in some changes in recent years. One such change is the new recommendation for children to remain in the rear-facing position for much longer than originally stated.
According to the American Academy for Pediatrics, the recommendation now is for children to remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old. Of course, there are exceptions. Rear-facing car seats have weight limits. If your child exceeds the weight limit, then he or she may be turned around and moved up to a forward facing seat before the age of two. Generally, though, most kids will stay rear-facing until they are two.
Research has shown that this position is the safest for a youngster whose neck and spine are not yet developed enough to withstand the impact of a crash. When an accident occurs, the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop, but the body does not. It is simple physics. A young child is not yet physically developed enough for the muscles and other support systems in the body to prevent the neck from snapping back and forth. This can result in serious injury or even death. Sitting in the rear-facing position means the child's body continues traveling backwards against the seat, which cushions the child on impact.
Studies have also suggested that keeping your child in a rear-facing position until the age of two may decrease his or her chances of serious injury or death by 75 percent. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.