American Academy of Pediatrics releases new guidelines for rear-facing car seats

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics are changing up the recommendations for how long children should stay in rear-facing car seats.

For Heather Squillacioti, ensuring her children’s safety before every road trip is a priority. Every buckle is fastened and each car set is secured.

“100 percent - it needs to be done the right way,” said Squillacioti. “For sure, their safety comes first."

In the backseat, five-year-old Dominic faces forward and his 16-month-old brother Joseph, faces the rear.

“The longer they face rear-facing, the safer it is,” said Squillacioti. “The car accidents that happen when they face forward, can be devastating.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics used to recommend rear-facing seating for children like Joseph until at least two years old. Now under new guidelines, the organization urges that kids remain rear-facing until they reach the seat's maximum height and weight limit — even if they're four years old.

“Those folks are the experts and we always listen to what they have to say,” said Mike Hanson, the director of the Office of Traffic Safety for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. 

He says that the rear-facing position can save young lives.

“That is the safest position for those little bodies to be in in the event that there is some type of collision,” said Hanson. “By having them in a rear-facing car seat, that little body is better able to absorb and then dissipate for the force without the injuries that come with it than if they were to be facing forward.”

Traveling with precious cargo, Squillacioti says that she's on board with the new guidelines.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” she said. “I think that you can’t do one number that fits all kids.”

See the full guidelines at