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The American Academy of Pediatrics has a new recommendation that toddlers remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach age two, or until they reach the height and weight limits of their seats.

This recommendation is crucial, because children under age two are 75% less likely to be injured or killed in a crash if they are in a rear-facing seat. A rear-facing seat more effectively supports the child’s head, neck and spine in a crash. One study even found rear-facing seats to be five times safer than forward-facing ones.

Previous recommendations of the AAP cited one year and 20 pounds as the minimum for switching children to front-facing seats. Unfortunately, parents have commonly interpreted one year and 20 pounds as the ideal time to switch, which is not correct. While it might be a little easier to put children in forward-facing seats and to talk to them while they’re forward facing, safety concerns should come first.

Please wait until your children are at least two years old before switching their car seats to forward-facing. If you have already switched a child younger than two, consider switching back, and have him or her remain rear-facing until two or until he or she reaches the height and weight limits of the seat.

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