It’s road-trip season and if you’ve got a baby and a car, you’ll want to do everything you can to protect your child from injury in the event of a crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading killer of kids ages 1 to 12 years old.
At a recent baby products trade show, one car seat manufacturer’s rep told me that one of the biggest car seat mistakes new parents make is turning around a rear-facing convertible car seat too soon (a convertible car seat is the next-stage car seat after an infant car seat, which most babies outgrow by 9 to 12 months). “Parents say things like, ‘I have a big boy and I want to see him,’” the rep said. Sound familiar?
Ideally, you’ll should keep your child rear facing in his convertible car seat until age 2, while following the manufacturer’s height and weight recommendations. Height and weight limits are posted on the side or back of your child’s car seat.Crashes are violent things. In a frontal collision, which is the most common type of car crash, children will be thrust forward. Kids who ride in rear-facing seats have the maximum protection for the head, neck and spine. The shell of the seat behind them will offer support and help keep them from hitting the interior of the car, which is a leading cause of injury in a crash, according to Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., the Engineering Core Director at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Seat strategy: Keep your under-age-2 child turned around. You won’t be able to see your child’s face. (Don’t attach a mirror to the back seat so you can see your child either. It can become projectile in a crash.) But at least you’ll know you child is riding as safely as possible.