Thursday, March 24, 2011

Changing recommendations

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics announced new car seat recommendations, changing the recommendation that toddlers remain rear-facing until age two instead of age one, among other changes. As the parent of a 15-month-old, who I still have rear-facing, I paid close attention to this report and then let loose a string of profanity.

I just bought a new car seat for her, since she is already 32 inches tall and 28 pounds and is therefore about to outgrow her convertible car seat (the kind that can be either front- or read-facing). I had just talked to her pediatrician about moving her into her new, forward-facing seat and really thought I was on top of things, ahead of the game. I even went ahead and ordered the seat.

Before I ordered it, I asked our pediatrician about the weight and age recommendations. The new car seat says it's for a child of at least 25 pounds and 24 months old. I told him that my daughter will outgrow her convertible seat long before 24 months, and asked if it's OK to move her to this new seat, even though it says it's for 24 months and up. He said with car seats, go by how the seat fits, not what the rules say, and that the new seat would be perfectly safe.

So I went ahead and ordered it, it arrived, and of course, then this new recommendation came out. I know I'm not alone here, and this is throwing a lot of parents for a loop. It would be nice if the AAP could somehow employ quantum physics and make car seats that will fit a 2-year-old child rear-facing instantly available when they release new recommendations. Then we parents could do more with this news than throw up our hands and say, "Now what?"

If you have a 13-month-old whose seat you just turned around, are you supposed to turn it back? And how mad are the 8-year-olds who thought they were about to be done with their booster seats, but are now finding out that they may have to use them until they're (omigod, how embarassing) TWELVE?

I am all-about safety. I'm quite a stickler for it, in fact. My 3-year-old rode rear-facing until she was 20 months old, because she has a considerably smaller build than her little sister and she could. My 15-month-old will fit rear-facing in her convertible car seat for another month, maybe two. Then I'll have to do the only thing I really can do, and put her in her new car seat, which I just spent over $200 on.

It's not just the car seats themselves that make this new recommendation challenging, it's the cars as well. Not all car seats fit in all cars, particularly not rear-facing. I drive a Toyota Corolla, and the convertible seat that we have juuuust fits rear-facing. I looked at other seats when I purchased this one, and some simply would not fit. Were I to leave my daughter, who is in the 97th percentile for height, rear-facing until she's 24 months, her head would probably be in my lap while I drive.

To accommodate these new recommendations, car seats are going to have to change and cars are going to have to change to accommodate them. Therefore, as much as we'd love to adopt them immediately, many of us cannot. After stressing about this considerably, I came to a helpful realization: I can only do the best I can with the information that I have at the time.


  1. I saw an "expert" address the issue of cramped legs and she said (with a straight face, no less) that toddlers are flexible and would be quite comfortable riding around with bent knees. Clearly it's been a long time since she rode in the car with a 1 1/2 year old. 80-year-olds have nothing on them when it comes to complaining about life's circumstances.

  2. holy-@*&!? ( a bunch of profanity ) If I have to keep my twins in booster seats until they are 12 I am going to loose it... Already we can not all fit into our car for simple outings... Do they think all parents drive mini vans? WTF?! I agree with Dana, both my children's knees are folded in by the backs of our seats (which are pulled as forward as they can go)...


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