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How Long Should I Keep My Child Rear-Facing?

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diono pacifica extended rear facing car seat

Car seats like the Diono Pacifica allow children to remain rear-facing past the AAP-recommended two years
Photo: Amazon

Recommendations on the types of car seats to use for your children have changed over time. Recently, in April 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a new policy statement advising parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat. But with many seats able to rear-face until 45 pounds or 44 inches tall, should you keep your child rear-facing longer than two years?

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In a nutshell, yes; you should actually try to keep your child rear-facing for as long as you can. Doing so greatly decreases the likelihood of death or serious injury for your child if involved in a car accident. Researchers at the AAP compared injury statistics regarding children under age 2 over a 15-year time span. They found the following statistics:

  • Children under 12 months were 1.79 times more likely to suffer severe injury when forward-facing; and
  • Children 12 to 23 months were 5.32 times more likely to suffer severe injury when forward-facing.

These statistics explain why the APP recommends keeping your child rear-facing for at least the first two years of life, but how does that relate to keeping your child rear-facing over the age of 2?

While there haven’t been many studies on the safety of extended rear-facing for children here in the US, the British Medical Journal published a study in June 2009 recommending the “Use of rear-facing car seats for children under 4 years old.” In fact, drivers in Sweden have routinely been keeping their kids rear-facing until 4 years of age or longer, and that country has close to zero fatalities and serious injuries per year for young children.

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Comparatively, countries like the USA who tend to rush to turn their children front-facing earlier have a much higher child fatality rate when it comes to car accidents.

So, while ultimately it’s up to you, you should at least consider keeping your child rear-facing in your car for as long as possible—whether that is 2 years, 4 years, or even longer. Doing so will help protect your most precious passengers in the car if you’re ever involved in a collision.

News Source: Car Seats for the Littles, Car Seat Lady,

  • Cat HilesManaging Editor

    Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don't ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies. Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.