Obligatory Car Seat Guideline Post
Today the AAP released new guidelines regarding car seat and booster seat usage. I’m going to be honest, as it isn’t yet even close to on my radar, I have not done any research or formed an opinion on the booster seat guidelines. I have, however, done a lot of research and have a rather strong opinion on the car seat guidelines.
The new car seat guidelines (which are discussed here) recommend that toddlers remain rear facing until they are either two years old or until they reach the maximum rear facing height/weight limits for their car seat.
I am thrilled about the new recommendations. Children under the ago of two are 75% less likely to die or sustain a serious injury if they are rear facing during a car accident. 75%! I don’t care if it’s 2%, anything that I can do to minimize injury to my child, I will do.
Personally, I feel that there is an immense amount of “peer pressure” that’s out there to forward face your child the second they hit one year and 20 lbs (which is the law in PA). When Jack turned 1 year, he was just barely 20 lbs. I had already done my research on extended rear facing and had decided that we would keep Jack rear facing as long as possible. Almost everyone I knew thought I was crazy and conservative and basically just being an over-protective mom. We eventually turned Jack forward just after he turned 18 months. I wish that we had waited, but it is what it is. We will make every effort to keep X rear facing until he is two. Part of me is glad that I now have the AAP guidelines to point at and validate my decision to keep X rear facing. I know I shouldn’t feel like I need to validate a parenting decision, but sometimes I do.
One thing that has really bothered me today about this whole new guideline thing is the number of people that I have seen who said they likely will not follow the guidelines because their child can’t possibly be comfortable rear facing until they are two. (To be fair, I’m not talking about a child who pitches a fit, screams, cries, throws up because they are unhappy in the car seat. If you child is so unhappy that they are a distraction to the driver, then you need to make sure that your child and everyone else is safe. If that means forward facing, then that’s what keeps everyone safe). The “comfort” argument just doesn’t hold any water with me. First, I would much rather have a uncomfortable child that one who is seriously injured or worse in a car accident. Second, have you ever actually looked at the way a toddler sits or sleeps? They never look comfortable yet somehow, they don’t mind. I guess my ultimate question is if your child doesn’t want to wear a bike helmet because it isn’t comfortable, will you tell them that they don’t have to wear it? I’m guessing not. Will you tell your pre-schooler who doesn’t know how to swim that they don’t have to wear a life-jacket because it isn’t comfortable? What about your teenager who doesn’t want to wear a seat belt? I could easily name a dozen safety guidelines that could be perceived as causing discomfort, but we follow them without question. Why not this one?
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