Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new car seat recommendations. Hallelujah!!!!
Here they are if you haven't had a chance to read them yet.
2011 New Car Seat Recommendations
The biggest change is the new recommendation to keep your child rear facing until age 2. This is by far the safest way for your child to ride. Infants and toddlers have heavy heads and riding rear facing helps to cradle their neck and head and prevent injury in the event of an accident. Even a properly restrained 1 yr old who is forward facing could have internal decapitation in the event of an accident. But when rear facing, the car seat absorbs the impact of the accident and holds their head and neck steady. It's so simple to understand and drives me nuts that so many people are in such a hurry to turn their child around.
There is one other recommendation that so many parents choose to ignore. This one has to do with what kind of car seat your preschooler should be riding in. The AAP says that children should ride in a car seat with a harness until they have reached the weight and height limits of their seat. And at least till the age of 4. But I see so many little kids switched to a booster seat as soon as they fit the weight limit for one. I don't care if a booster seat is more convenient for the parents. It wouldn't be convenient if your child died in a car crash because their body slipped out of the booster seat. And most small children don't wear a car seat belt properly even with a booster. They tuck the shoulder belt under their arm. That will not keep them safe in an accident. A 5 point harness keeps them properly restrained and SAFE.
Caroline is 4 and she still has plenty of room in her car seat with a 5 pt harness. At 36 lbs, she is only a couple lbs above the REAR facing weight limit and has a long way to go to reach the forward facing weight limit of 65 lbs. And I know that she is safest in her car seat with a harness. She will be riding in a harnessed car seat for quite a bit longer.