Updated Child Passenger Safety Transportation Policy

nhtsa car seat graphic


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published its updated Child Passenger Safety Transportation Policy August 30, 2018.

Rear-facing position

The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its best practice recommendation for child safety seats in the rear-facing position: All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the seat’s manufacturer. This best practice results from the need to support the young child’s posterior torso, neck, head and pelvis and to distribute crash forces over the entire body.

Our recommendation: Convertible safety seats - those that can face rearward or forward - have higher weight limits and will allow children to be seated rear-facing longer.

Forward-facing position

The AAP’s updated best practice recommendation for the forward-facing position: All children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their child-safety seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the seat’s manufacturer.” 

Our recommendation: A forward-facing seat’s five-point harness includes five points of restraint, while a belt-positioning booster seat that uses the vehicle’s seat belt has only three. Therefore there is no need to rush into placing your child in a booster seat. A child should remain in a five-point harness as long as possible.

Belt-positioning booster

The AAP’s best practice recommendation for a belt-positioning booster: All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their child safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly. This is typically when the child has reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age.

Seat belt

The AAP’s best practice recommendation for use of a seat belt states: When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder belts for optimal protection.

Children younger than 13 years

The AAP’s recommended best practice for children under 13 years of age: All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.