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Why a Car Seat Should Face the Rear
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Every car seat model is slightly different so make sure to carefully follow
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Why a Car Seat Should Face the Rear
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Most parents have heard the conventional advice that states a child should be kept in a rear-facing car seat until they turn one year old and weigh 20 pounds. However, those guidelines have changed, and for good reason. Here's what you need to know.

Changing Opinions About Rear-Facing Car Seats

The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, now recommends that children should remain in rear-facing safety seats until the age of two and even beyond, if possible. They believe it is now considerably safer to use this car seat placement until the child reaches the maximum height or weight limits allowed by the car seat's manufacturer.

Many parents can't wait to turn their child's car seat around so they can see their child, and their child can see them. However, the AAP has determined these new guidelines are safer and supersede parent-child bonding experiences on the road.

How a Rear-Facing Car Seat is Safer for Children

A child's head, neck, and spine are very vulnerable. If a young child is seated in a forward-facing car seat when a frontal collision occurs, the child's body is restrained but the head is not. The resulting force on the child's neck and spine can cause paralysis or death. However, if a child is in a rear-facing safety seat, the force is spread much more evenly across the child's body, causing considerably less stress on the neck and spine.

Installing and Using a Rear-Facing Car Seat

There's no doubt that rear-facing car seats save lives. But, sometimes, trying to figure out how to properly install and adjust these seats can be tricky. You may even feel as though you need to take a class to figure it all out. Every car seat model is slightly different, so be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer's directions.

Harness straps should be snug and free of any obstruction or after-market padding. Harness slots should be at, or below, the shoulders. And, the child's head should not reach above the top of the seat. If the child's legs are long enough to touch the seat, that's fine. Leg length has not been found to be a safety risk with rear-facing safety seats.

Rear-facing seats are actually the safest option for everyone--adults included. However, while it's generally not practical for adults to ride that way, it's imperative that our children do. I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.
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