Here’s Why the AAP Revised Its Rear-Facing Car Seat Recommendation


car seat guidelinesAt the end of August, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a newly revised rear-facing recommendation that has many parents asking “why?” This newest advice from the APP is quite simple – all children should ride rear-facing until they reach the height or weight limit of their car seat. Parents are a bit perplexed as to how their older children will fit rear-facing. They’re wondering if their children’s legs will break in a crash and want to know what prompted this change.  Let’s unpack those ideas below.

What prompted this change?

The AAP felt upon analyzing their data that there is not a “best” age to turn your child from rear to forward-facing. Studies show that having your child rear-face in a vehicle is five times safer than forward-facing. Therefore, the AAP wants all children to rear-face until they reach the weight or height limit of their seat. Remember that a little one’s head is bigger in proportion to his or her body. For an infant, a third of their body weight is in their head, ligaments have not hardened, and neck muscles are still developing. When a child is in the rear-facing position during a frontal impact, the crash forces are spread at the child’s back and shoulders, protecting the head, neck, and spine.  When a child is forward-facing, the head and limbs snap forward, causing the spine to expand which may result in a serious injury or death. In fact, we should all be riding rear facing!

Will your child’s legs be squished?

Maybe, but children are great contortionists! Your child will figure out a way to ride comfortably. In Sweden, children typically ride rear-facing until they’re four or five years old! Why? It’s part of Vision Zero, a belief that no adult or child should die in traffic incidents. It’s a stunning and successful program, to say the least. And keep in mind, if you have your child rear-facing from birth, they won’t know any different.  

Now for the broken leg question…

If, and that is a big “IF,” a leg is fractured while a child is rear-facing, it is easier to cast a leg than to deal with a spinal injury; a spinal or neck injury may be something a child has to deal with for the rest of his or her life. And surprisingly, children are actually more likely to suffer upper and lower extremity injuries when forward-facing because their limbs snap forward on impact.  

car seat guidelinesSo there you have the reasoning behind why the AAP and many others would like to see children rear face to the upper weight and height limits of the car seat. Not sure what height/weight limits your child’s car seat has? Check the manual of the car seat and the mandated stickers found on the shell of the car seat. If you are not sure if you have your car seat installed correctly (national misuse is well over 80%), need to figure out how to safely transport your children, or have questions, feel free to reach out to us at beep! beep! car seat or contact a local certified car seat technician. You can find more information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at


car seat guidelinesBen and Karli started beep! beep! car seat as a way to share their combined 17 years of child passenger safety knowledge with parents and caregivers. Both Ben and Karli are certified child passenger safety technician instructors (CPSTI) as well as special needs certified and have installed well over 20,000 car seats! In addition to being the West Coast’s car seat experts, they also share a background of injury prevention program management. As parents of four young children, they know the importance of car seats and are on a mission to educate parents and caregivers with connected, meaningful car seat education. 



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