You may have heard the recent recommendations that children be kept in a rear-facing position while riding in a car until they reach the age of two. Previous recommendations said your child could turn around once he or she turned one. So, what has changed?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommendation for rear-facing car seats changed due to more research into crashes and the effects on the small bodies of children. A rear-facing position offers more support in the event of an accident. Due to physics and how the body continues moving forward even when a vehicle stops, the rear-facing position, prevents the child's head and neck from being snapped forward on impact. Because a child under two is not completely developed, especially in the neck, this position can greatly reduce the number of fatalities and severe injuries in accidents.
Furthermore, the rear-facing position allows the force of a collisions to be distributed all over the body instead of just in the head, neck and spine areas. More distribution of force reduces injuries, which is why seat belts are required for adults.
A rear-facing car seat only works when used based on manufacturer's guidelines. In some cases, this means your child may not be able to stay rear-facing until he or she is two because some rear-facing seats have weight limits your child may pass before the age of two. Never try to use a car seat designed to be forward-facing in a rear-facing position, though. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.