(ABC NEWS)- Children should stay in rear-facing car seats as long as possible to protect their developing heads, necks and spines in the event of a crash, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Parents are now advised to keep their children’s car seats in the rear-facing position for as long as possible, or at least up to the age of 4, according to the AAP’s recently updated recommendations. Previously, the AAP recommended rear-facing car seats up until the age of 2.
The AAP’s new guidelines are encouraging parents to keep kids rear-facing until they have reached the maximum height and weight limit listed on their car seat’s labels and instruction manual. Then parents can transition kids to the next phase of car seat or booster seat.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children over the age of 4, according to the AAP. Placing a child in a car seat correctly can help decrease the risk of death or serious injury by over 70 percent, according to nonprofit child safety organization Safe Kids Worldwide.
“Every month that a child rides rear-facing a little bit longer gives more time for the head, neck and spine to develop,” Kerry Chausmer, director of certification at Safe Kids, told “GMA.” “And that’s really why we want kids to ride rear-facing. It protects the head, neck and spine better in a crash.”