Experts also say it's not a problem if older children's legs can touch the back seat while using rear-facing auto seats. Usually, a child would stay in this rear facing seat until they were 2-years-old but now, it's not the age. rather the height and weight that are the real guidelines. He's chairman of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. The key is to see what happens with their spine and how the body is absorbing more of the crash effect in a forward facing seat than a rear seat.
Specifically, this means that children are recommended to use rear-facing vehicle seats for as long as their height and weight are within the seat's set limits, even if the child is older than 2 years old.
Emily Byrne says she will side with the experts and keep her son Ryan rear facing, as long as the auto seat's label suggest she does. Using the correct safety seat reduces a young child's risk of injury or death by more than 70 percent.
Most rear-facing auto seats can accommodate kids up to about 40 pounds.
The author of the new recommendations regarding children's auto seats use, Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, MD, FAAP, said that there are no studies to show which could be the ideal age for moving from a rear-facing seat position to a front-facing one. This is often when they have reached at least 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years old.
"The study's talking about the developing spinal system and the bones, and how malleable they are, and it's better to have them rear facing for that impact than it is to have them forward facing", Way said.
In an interview with NBC News, Hoffman said he's aware parents enjoy checking off these milestones for their kids, but he recommends taking a step back to make sure they're adhering to the academy's guidelines.
"We hope that by helping parents and caregivers use the right vehicle safety seat for each and every ride that we can better protect kids, and prevent tragedies", said Hoffman before adding that using children's auto seats reduces the risk of severe injury or death by 70%.
For Heather Squillacioti, ensuring her children's safety before every road trip is a priority.