New Guidelines Suggest Kids Ride In Booster Seats Until Age 12

DARIEN, CT (AP / CBSNewYork) – Children should ride in rear-facing car seats longer, until they are 2 years old instead of 1, according to updated advice from a medical group and a federal agency.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane gets reaction to the new recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued separate but consistent new recommendations Monday.

RELATED: Car Seat Recommendations

Both organizations say older children who’ve outgrown front-facing car seats should ride in booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits them. Booster seats help position adult seat belts properly on children’s smaller frames. Children usually can graduate from a booster seat when their height reaches 4 feet 9 inches.

Children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat, the guidelines from both groups say.

The advice may seem extreme to some parents, who may imagine trouble convincing older elementary school kids – as old as 12 – to use booster seats.

“I understand that up to the age of four, but basically after that it gets pretty difficult,” parent Cynthia told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane in Darien, Connecticut on Monday morning.

1010 WINS’ Alice Stockton-Rossini with Dr. Dennis Durbin

But it’s based on evidence from crashes. For older children, poorly fitting seat belts can cause abdominal and spine injuries in a crash.

One-year-olds are five times less likely to be injured in a crash if they are in a rear-facing car seat than a forward-facing seat, according to a 2007 analysis of five years of U.S. crash data.

Put another way, an estimated 1,000 children injured in forward-facing seats over 15 years might not have been hurt if they had been in a car seat facing the back, said Dr. Dennis Durbin, lead author of the recommendations and a pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Toddlers have relatively large heads and small necks. In a front-facing car seat, the force of a crash can jerk the child’s head causing spinal cord injuries.

Car seats have recommended weights printed on them. If a 1-year-old outweighs the recommendation of an infant seat, parents should switch to a different rear-facing car seat that accommodates the heavier weight until they turn 2, the pediatricians group says.

Luckily for parents, most car seat makers have increased the amount of weight the seats can hold. This year, about half of infant rear-facing seats accommodate up to 30 pounds, Durbin said. Ten years ago, rear-facing car seats topped out at children weighing 22 pounds.

“The good news is it’s likely parents currently have a car seat that will accommodate the change,” Durbin said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations appear Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Paul Murnane
  • ilvedanny05

    Everyone seems to forget that these are just recommendations and not laws. We as of right now, but probably not for long live in a free country. How about instead of complaining if you want to put your 12 y/o in a booster seat then do it, if not then don’t. Parents, take responsibility and make some decisions for yourselves.

  • My4sons

    anyone who says a larger 18 month old can’t fit into a rear facing seat is obviously misinformed and should try it before they comment about it! I have twin 18 month old boys who weight 30lbs and 28 lbs. They are still rear facing and will remain that way until 45 lbs (the weight limit for their carseats). They are happy and content that way. They have no problems fitting at all. It is simply a recommendation for the safety of your child. I think the fact that my children are 5x less likely to get injured in case of an accident is worth it! Do some research! As far as 12 year olds in booster seats, I cannot comment. I do not have a 12 year old to base it on. Seems a bit much but obviously they have reason to believe it is necessary, although I can’t imagine my nephew using one.

  • sick

    My daughter just turned 9 and she is 5 feet tall. Should she be required to use a booster seat? These kids are becoming so soft and wimpy, it is sickening. No wonder the rest of the world is taking over

  • Murray

    How about a booster seat for midgets that drive too!

    • MIchelle

      Hey, I am a dwarf. I am 4’11”. I agree that I need a booster seat, but I am 165 lbs.! How will I fit into one?

  • jo

    why dont we just put everyone under 18 in a big bubble. im sick of it all.

  • reason

    go ahead and try putting a taller 18month old in a rear facing seat. there is nowhere for their legs to go. MORONIC

  • sk

    the auto compamnies should be making the cars safer. children as olld. 12 years olds are going to sit in a booster? they are almost teenagers already. Aldo, many cars don’t have the space to fit so many car seats and boosters. the lawamakers would love tnis! it just gives everyoen more na excuse to get more fines/tickets

  • Bridget

    This is really stupid. Most 10-12 year olds are over 5 feet tall weighing at least 100lbs. Putting proper adjustable seat belts may be a better idea.

    • NYC

      Actually, that is pretty tall and very heavy for a ten-12 year old. 100lbs at 10 is over the 95th percentile.

      • Heather

        That is the norm. My son is 12 and 120 lbs. Not fat, just stocky.

  • Kaleb Mchugh

    i reall do not mind doing a booster and car seat , if it is mandatory. I hope they are also providing the seats and not expecting the parents to put out more money to make them wealthier!

    • Cindi

      who is the “they” you expect to buy you a car seat? I agree with most posters here that 12 seems like an excessive age to be in a booster seat and making it mandatory would be absurd, however if it was to be a mandate like the seat belt law, who do you think should buy it for you?

  • Crystal Gibson

    I’m all for the safety of my kids but seriously, 12 yrs old! Not even 4 yrs later they can drive, lol. The auto makers or some business needs to invent seatbelt adjusters that will take care of this problem. Tell you the truth I don’t know where I could find a booster sit to fit my 11 yr old son!

  • john

    this is stupid what if you have a big son at 10yrs..

  • NO WAY

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. It’s time to stop requiring parents to buy booster seats and start requiring the auto manufacturers to make seat belts that work for smaller people.

  • C.J.

    it will also be safer for the kids whose parents drive drunk.

    • Heather

      absolutely nothing is safe for the idiot parents who drive drunk!

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