Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

New Car Seat Rules

Guidelines to help parents keep kids safe

By Liz Crenshaw
|  Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011  |  Updated 12:43 PM EDT
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How old is your child?

That is the question the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants you to ask before you buy a car seat for your child. New guidelines announced Monday are designed to keep pace with the latest medical research and scientific technology in the development of new child restraint technologies.

NHTSA advises parents and caregivers to keep children in each restraint type for as long as possible before moving them up to the next type of seat. For example, the safety agency wants children in rear-facing restraints until two years of age. Rear facing position reduces stresses to the neck and spinal cord and is particularly important for growing babies. In general, children should stay in their approved restraint until they reach their highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. And NHTSA recommends all children under age 13 should ride in the back seat. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children from 3 to 14 years old.

For more information on NHTSA's guidelines click here.

The American Academy of Pediatrics breaks down the different types of car seats on the market here.

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