Experts make change to child car seat guidelines

Published: Aug. 31, 2018 at 5:31 PM CDT
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New child car seat guidelines are in place from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who is changing the time when your child's car seat should be moved around.

The new guidelines recommend turning the car seat from rear facing to front facing depending on the height and weight of your child, instead of just making the change based on their age.

"I think it's just a struggle to get them in and out,” said Eileen Walter, a parent from Eau Claire. It's tempting for many parents to move your child's car seat around early.

"Previously, the recommendation was up to 2, now it could be up to 4 years, many of the rear facing seats will go up to 40 pounds,” said Pam Johnson, a Registered Nurse at Mayo Clinic Health Systems.

The new guidelines don't give an exact time to make the switch as it depends on the car seat and size of the child. "Kids come in very different sizes, they could be heavy enough but not tall enough, really it's their height that makes the safety differences for where the belts go across their pelvis or go across their chest,” Johnson said.

It’s a new height and weight guideline that could potentially save a child's life. "One of the biggest risks would be damage to their brain and their spinal cord, which could be debilitating, if not a fatal injury for a child,” Johnson said.

A risk parents aren't willing to take. "The safety of my children is always been number one and as a father I want to protect my children as much as possible, if the car seat needs to be turned around at certain height and weight, I'll do what I have to to make sure they're going to be okay,” said Jesse Chovan a parent from Stanley.

Each car seat may vary on the height and weight that is safe to face the front so check to the manual for the instructions.

"We have over the years had an occasional injury of a child, where they are improperly restrained in a car seat or a booster seat and motivation from seeing that is something that keeps all of us, want to continue to educate parents and the community to keep their kids as safe as they can,” Johnson said.

She also wants to remind parents that the price of the car seat is not as important as checking that it's been crash tested and meets all safety standards before purchasing a new car seat.