Based in part on input from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has revised its child restraint guidelines to categorize seats by the child’s age rather than by type of child seat.
Under the new guidelines, the NHTSA is advising parents and caregivers to keep children in each restraint type, including rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seats, for as long as possible before moving them up to the next type of seat. The agency is specifically recommending using the restraints in the rear-facing position for as long as children fit within the height and weight limits of the car seat as established by the manufacturer. The rear-facing position reduces stresses to the neck and spinal cord in infants and young children.
NHTSA said that its new guidelines are consistent with the latest advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which advises parents to keep kids in rear-facing restraints until two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat's manufacturer.
Additionally, the agency reiterated the importance of reading the child seat manufacturers’ instructions and vehicle owner’s manual for proper installation, as well as the recommendation that all children under age 13 ride in the rear seat of the vehicle, if possible, and to never place a rear-facing child seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger airbag.