Research has long suggested that it is safest to keep your child rear-facing in their carseat for as long as possible, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially recommended doing so until they are at least two years old. Yay!
The fact of the matter is that in most crashes, if their carseat is forward facing, a baby’s head will snap forward. Before they’re two, their neck muscles simply aren’t strong enough to withstand that kind of force in a violent crash.
The result can be a broken neck.
Toddlers younger than two years old are 75% less likely to die or experience serious injury when rear facing.
Many parents turn their children early because their legs grow longer than the seat. Don’t worry, little ones are generally perfectly comfortable back there with their legs crossed. Some say their child is miserable, so they have to turn them. Try bringing along a box of novel toys or other neat little distractions for your roadtrips. Perhaps some music they really like, too. But please don’t turn them before they’re strong enough.
My daughter was more than two years old before I turned her. I’m so thankful I made that choice, even though we never crashed. Because what if we had? And what if it broke her neck?
For more on carseat safety, head on over to the AAP’s Car Safety Seats: A Guide for Families 2009.