Rear-Facing Car Seats: Twice As Good As You Thought

| Mon Mar. 21, 2011 2:37 PM EDT

The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should stay in rear-facing car seats longer than we used to think:

Toddlers are usually switched from rear-facing to forward-facing car seats right after their first birthday — an event many parents may celebrate as a kind of milestone. But in a new policy statement, the nation’s leading pediatricians’ group says that is a year too soon.

....The academy’s previous policy, from 2002, said it was safest for infants and toddlers to ride facing the rear, and cited 12 months and 20 pounds as the minimum requirements for turning the car seat forward. But Ms. Baer, a certified child passenger safety technician, said parents tended to take that as a hard and fast rule.

“A lot of parents consider turning the car seat around as another developmental milestone that shows how brilliant and advanced their child is,” she said, “and they don’t realize that it’s making their child less safe.”

I don't have kids and my personality is kind of weird anyway, but I still have to ask: Really? Do parents really turn their kids around at age one because they think it shows how brilliant and advanced their child is?

Or do they do it because up until a few hours ago the American Academy of Pediatrics said it was OK to turn them around at age one? That actually seems more likely, doesn't it?