Turning your child’s car seat to face forward can wait

Rear-facing car seats are much safer in case of a car accident

Turning your child’s car seat to face forward can wait

Ever wonder why children should be placed with their car seat rear facing versus forward facing? Simply said, it’s because it’s the safest way for them to ride in a car.

If your child is placed in a forward facing position too early, they are at risk for head, neck and spine injuries in a crash.

Why are rear-facing car seats best?

Your child riding rear facing is much safer than a child who is riding forward facing. In the event of a crash, a rear-facing car seat will absorb the forces from the crash. This allows the shell of the car seat to:

  • Support your child’s head
  • Support your child’s neck
  • Protect your child’s spine

When can I turn my child’s car seat forward facing?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. The height and weight limit is located on the labels on the side of the car seat or in the owner’s manual.

How do I know my child is safe in their rear-facing car seat?

There are several things to look for when strapping your child into the car seat.

  • There should be at least 1 inch of car seat above your child’s head.
    • This indicates your child is still within the height limits.
  • The harnesses should be at or below your child’s shoulders.
    • This keeps your child from sliding out of the car seat in case of an accident.
  • The harnesses should be snug; at the shoulder, check to see if you can pinch any of the harness straps between your fingers. If you can, tighten the harness more.
    • A snug harness means less movement of your child in a crash, resulting in less injury.
  • The chest clip should be at your child’s armpit level.
    • This slows your child’s forward movement in a crash, resulting in less stress on your child’s neck and spine.

Did you know 3 out of 4 car seats are not used or installed correctly? Sanford Health’s certified car seat technicians are available to answer your car seat questions. Call, email or schedule an appointment with a car seat technician 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

If you have any parenting questions, call (605) 312-8390 or email parenting@sanfordhealth.org.

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Posted In Children's, Parenting