I am sure that many of you have seen this column in the New York Times which reports the American Academy of Pediatrics updated advice on rear facing car seats. We got similar advice from one doctor somewhere along the way, to keep the child rear facing as long as possible and to use height and weight rather than age as a guideline for use of car seats and boosters. We are pretty intense about our carseats, but we have not always been able to follow this advice, perhaps because we just thought it was overly conservative. I mean, it sounds like, based on the “orphan seat” quote, that we should just ALL be rear facing in the car, and in five point harnesses. So where do we draw the line between safety and convenience?
My children are huge, PT was 20 pounds at 4 months, so we had to buy a bigger carseat to keep him rear facing even until age 1. These days he is nine years old and 4’11”, 90 pounds. We have set a very standard “graduate from your booster” rule at age 8, the kids do think of it as a milestone, but 4’9″ is a pretty tall height recommendation, I think that this will keep many kids in their boosters long past age 8. I had to buy a bigger car to accomodate 6 carseats/boosters, because even a larger mini-van didn’t fit the extra width of the carseats. I know that others have decided to just move their kids out of the boosters sooner to make the Odyssey work. My kids are really well conditioned to the car seat situation, the older ones have a complete freak out if they are asked to sit in a seat that has only a lap-belt, they respond as though I had asked them to juggle knives.
And then I remember the beginning of the seat belt movement, and how my parents had some work to do to convince us, as school age children, to buckle up at all.
I think it will be interesting to see how quickly, without legislation, rear facing car seats to age 2 becomes the norm. Will information from pediatricians and nurses be enough, along with a collective guilt/responsibility movement in the Mommysphere, to get us all to change?