Car Seat Safety Guidelines

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COLUMBIA - The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new guidelines for car seats. The recommendations keep children strapped into seats longer and use age and weight criteria to guide transistions.

Prior to the change, parents were advised to keep infant car seats facing backward until the child reached 12 months of age. Now, the AAP urges parents to keep their children in rear-facing seats until the child is two years old.

The guidelines recommend children too large for a carseat remain in booster seats until the child is 4 feet, 9 inches tall or between eight and 12 years old. Pediatricians say, before that milestone, a child isn't tall enough for a proper seatbelt.

Finally, the AAP recommend parents keep all children under the age of 13 in the backseat.

While most parents understand the safety reasons for the guidelines, implementing the new policies may prove difficult. Columbia mom Jessica Hughes has a four year old and an eight-year old who both use booster seats. She says, with her older child, the booster can cause a few headaches.

"She wants to ride in the front seat," Hughes said. "Its (the booster seat) not as comfortable. Its hard plastic that you're sitting on versus the carseat."

Hughes also mentioned how expensive proper car seats can be, sometimes running several hundred dollars. Regardless of cost, however, she said safety is worth the trouble.

"We're all for keeping our kids safe. And if its a little inconvenient, well, I would rather be inconvenienced that have my kid, my child, hurt or - God forbid - something more serious happen to them. You do what you have to do as a parent."

Car accidents are the leading cause of death in children four years of age and older. The AAP says following the new guidelines reduces the risk of injury by 40-70 percent.