Keep that car seat facing the back

April 3, 2009

Quick quiz: how old does a baby have to be before its car seat can face the front?

Note: While this article is being left unaltered, its claims about the AAP's recommendations are inaccurate. A April 9 follow-up explains the error.

Quick quiz: how old does a baby have to be before its car seat can face the front?

The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) used to recommend keeping infant car seats facing to back until a baby’s first birthday. But no longer.

Now the recommendation is to keep the car seat – and the child in it – rear-facing until the child reaches the maximum permissible height and weight requirement of the seat. That will usually be beyond the child’s second birthday.

This is yet another change to car seat recommendations. Previously, AAP said that "at a minimum," children should face backwards until one year and 20 pounds. Car seat information from its Web site, dated 2009, still says this. The change came after a recent article in Injury Prevention showed that children are five times safer in the rear-facing position.

To see if a child car seat is properly installed, parents (and pediatricians) can visit www.seatcheck.org to find a child passenger safety seat inspection station.