When Should I Turn My Kid’s Car Seat Around?

When Should I Turn My Kid’s Car Seat Around?

Though it’s often necessary, having your young child in a car can also be dangerous. Besides the hazards of leaving children alone in a hot car, there are accidents and fender-benders to consider. Deciding on which car seat to purchase is an important choice. Beyond that, installing that car seat correctly can be a matter of life or death. Of course, as the little ones grow, many parents are left asking “when should I turn my kid’s car seat around?” 

Today, we’ll tackle this potentially confusing question.

Choosing a Car Seat

First and foremost, let’s talk about why you should use a car seat. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the children who died in car crashes in 2017, 37 percent were unrestrained and 59 percent were in car seats that were being used incorrectly.

For babies, it is ideal to have the child facing backwards to shield them from any potential impacts. The goal is to position the small child’s face away from any potential deploying airbags. Additionally, it is important to position the angle of the seat properly, too. After all, babies have limited muscle control. Therefore, they must ride semi-reclined in order to keep their airways open. Above all, be sure to read reviews and check for any potential defects or product recalls.

No matter what seat is chosen, the driver should read and follow the safety instructions included with the seat. The answer to the question of “when should I turn my kid’s car seat around” is a bit more complicated.

So, When Should I Turn My Kid’s Car Seat Around?

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that parents wait until the age of two to turn the car seat toward the front of the vehicle. This is no longer the case

Age is no longer the defining safety factor. Instead, the organization reminds parents to rely on their child’s height, weight and the specific instructions from their particular car seat.

As it turns out, rear-facing car seats are generally safer. Changing the seat’s direction too soon often results in more injuries for young children. Besides supporting the neck, it also helps to protect their heads from rear impact. Turning a kid’s car seat around too soon can eliminate this protective benefit. 

Problems with Rear-Facing Car Seats

There are many reasons why parents or guardians may want to turn their child’s car seat to face forward. Many of these come down to trying to keep the little ones more comfortable.

Put plainly, a lot of children simply hate staring at the back seat of the car. Let’s face it, it can be a pretty boring view. When children are able to face forward, they can see all the action and interact with their parents. This can be a blessing, especially for long car rides.

Additionally, some kids can get motion sickness from not being able to see where the car is taking them. Turning the seat forward can help to ease this pain. If a child is having a temper tantrum in a rear-facing seat, it can also distract the driver. If a parent is trying to soothe a screaming child, having to contend with a rear-facing seat simply adds another hazard for the road.

Which is Better?  

Ultimately, there isn’t a set-in-stone answer for the question of “when should I turn my kid’s car seat around?” Some medical professionals recommend keeping the car seat facing back even longer than the AAP’s recommendation. The benefit of removing the age recommendation is that it gives parents more flexibility.

Now instead of everyone turning the seats around at age two, there are more options. Above all, the manufacturer’s specific instructions should be followed closely, but after that point, parents are free to make the choice. It is a personal decision, and more research is always being done. It is crucial for parents to make the safest and most feasible choice for their individual children. 

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