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Yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Administration updated their recommendations on car seats including keeping toddlers rear facing until age 2, and having kids ride in car seats as old as age 12. I have always felt that many parents were allowing their children to ride in a vehicle without the proper seat belt – once they reached a certain age. I have also been accused of making my son use a  car seat when others feel that he is simply too old for one (he is almost 10). However after reading the new car seat recommendations on how long children should stay in one, I smiled. I just knew that keeping my son in a car seat was a safer option, and I am glad that the recommendations have been changed. Read on to learn the new recommended guidelines on car seats.

The statistics speak for themselves, based on evidence during crashes, older children with poorly fitting seat belts incurred more abdominal and spinal cord injuries. Also, an estimated 1,000 children (over a 15 year time-spam) under the age of 1 may not have been injured if they had been in rear-facing car seats. And if you have ever watched a child crash test dummy test, you can see for yourself the importance of child car seats.

Here are some of the new recommended guidelines:

– Children should use a booster car seat until they are 4 foot 9 inches tall and between 8 and 12 years old.

– Children age 2 and under should ride in a rear-facing car seat until the maximum height and weight recommended for their car seat.

– Children ages 13 and under should always ride in the backseat of the vehicle.

– Children should stay in a car seat as long as possible, as long as your child meets the manufacturers recommended weight and height.

Now, the question is how many parents will follow the recommended guidelines and require their children to ride in a car seat, especially when they or the child feels he is too old for one. For my family, the idea of my son riding in a vehicle without a car seat was never an option. When my son was very young, my sister forwarded me a YouTube video that changed my views on car seats forever. The video was the story of a family who lost their young son in a car accident. He was not in a car seat and during the impact of the accident his little body slipped out of the seat belt and was ejected from the car. I knew right then that I never wanted to chance that with my child. I purchased the highest rated, safest car seat that would grow with him. And now, that he is reaching the weight limit of that car seat (80 pounds, 54 inches), I purchased a booster car seat that can accommodate him well beyond the 4’9″ recommendation.

As for when my son asked why he was the only kid he knew his age still in a car seat, I told him the simple truth – that it is the safest option and he has never once complained – he gets it.