Picture provided by The NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has revised its child restraint guidelines to be categorized by age rather than by type of child seat in order to keep pace with the latest scientific and medical research and the development of new child restraint technologies. The new guidelines, which was issued on Monday 21, 2011, stated that parents and caregivers need to keep children in each type of restraint for as long as possible before moving your child up to the next level including  rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats. The safety agency recommends that the child should be in a rear-facing restraint position as long as the child fit within the height and weight limits set by the manufacturer. The rear-facing position reduces stresses to the neck and spinal cord and is particularly important for growing babies.

The new guidelines are consistent with the latest advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics which advises parents to keep kids in rear-facing restraints until two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. There is no need to hurry to transition a child to the next restraint type.

Safety is every parents highest priority when it comes to their children. Selecting the right car seat for your child can be a challenge for many parents. The new NHTSA’s revised guidelines will help parents pick out the right seat for their child. Parents should also consider other factors when selecting a car seat, including their child’s weight, height, physical development, behavioral needs and type of vehicle driven.

Additional recommendations for child seat use from NHTSA include the following:

  • Always read child seat manufacturers’ instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on height and weight limits and how to install the car seat using the seat belt or the LATCH system.
  • All children under 13 should ride in the backseat.
  • Children in rear-facing car seats should never ride in front of an active passenger air bag.

Click here to view NHTSA’s new child restraint guidelines.