Children should stay in rear-facing car seats as long as possible to protect their developing heads, necks and spines in the event of a crash, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Parents are now advised to keep their children's car seats in the rear-facing position for as long as possible, or at least up to the age of 4, according to the AAP's recently updated recommendations. Previously, the AAP recommended rear-facing car seats up until the age of 2.
The AAP's new guidelines are encouraging parents to keep kids rear-facing until they have reached the maximum height and weight limit listed on their car seat's labels and instruction manual. Then parents can transition kids to the next phase of car seat or booster seat.
The new recommendation eliminates the age-specific milestone to turn a child's car seat around so that it is forward-facing.
Many car seat manufacturers allow children to remain rear-facing until they reach 40 pounds.
Experts also say it's not a problem if older children's legs can touch the back seat while using rear-facing car seats.
Read more about the AAP's car safety guidelines for children.