By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is important new information Thursday for parents with young children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is updating its guidelines to keep kids facing the rear longer to decrease the chance of injury or death in a crash.

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The group used to recommend seats going backwards until at least age 2, but new guidelines are based on height and weight.

When it comes to rear-facing car seats, parents often turn their children around too soon.

Rachel Way is the mother of three young children: 6-year-old Abigail, 4-year-old Hannah and 9-month-old Ben. All have been rear facing until they reached the car seat’s manufacture’s height and weight requirement.

(credit: CBS)

“There are so many things you can do to keep them safe, and this is just one of those simple things,” Way said. “We’ve actually had the girls rear facing for quite a while. They’ve turned around shortly before 4, and my oldest will be in a 5-point harness as long as she is within the requirements, and Ben will be rear facing for a very long time. So it’s safer, it’s much more safer.”

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Way says she agrees with research that says when a child sits rear-facing, the head, neck and spine are all supported by the hard shell of the car safety seat, allowing the car seat to absorb most of the force of a crash.

“The study’s talking about the developing spinal system and the bones, and how malleable they are, and it’s better to have them rear facing for that impact than it is to have them forward facing,” Way said.

Emily Byrne says she will side with the experts and keep her son Ryan rear facing, as long as the car seat’s label suggest she does.

“We’ll keep him as long as we can. He’s kind of a bigger kid, so he’ll probably hit the height and weight requirement, you know, sooner,” Byrne said. “He’s already over 30 pounds, so by the time he’s 2, he might be pushing it, but yeah, we’ll probably keep him rear facing as long as possible.”

The new policy also recommends older kids staying in forward-facing seats and booster seats until they are the maximum height and weight recommended by the manufacturer.

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Do not forget to check the car seat’s label for those recommendations.

Reg Chapman