Parents putting kids in forward-facing car seats too early: study

Ann Arbor, MI – Nearly three-quarters of parents turn their child’s car seat to face forward before the child reaches the recommended age of 2, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan.

The American Academy of Pediatrics adjusted its recommendations in 2011 to say children should be in rear-facing car seats until at least age 2 – or until the child has outgrown the seat’s weight and height limits – to help prevent serious injury. The previous guideline recommended making the switch at age 1 and 20 pounds.

Researchers surveyed parents one month after the academy updated its recommendation and again in 2013.

In 2011, 33 percent of parents said they turned their child’s car seats to face forward by age 1, according to the study, while 16 percent turned the seats at age 2 or older. In the second survey two years later, 24 percent made the change by age 1, with 23 percent waiting until age 2 or older.

“So we’ve seen some improvement. ... However, almost one-quarter of parents are turning their children before their first birthday. And few parents report waiting until that second birthday to make the turn,” study author Michelle L. Macy said in a press release.

The study was published Jan. 5 in Academic Pediatrics.