Kansas City,
11:10 AM

Child Passenger Safety: Children Should Stay Rear-Facing as Long as Possible

Rear-facing car seat

Shannon Bernal, Coordinator for the Car Seat Program at Children’s Mercy

In April 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published new guidelines on children in car seats, recommending children ride rear-facing until at least 2-years-old. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association also updated its recommendations to keep children rear-facing as long as possible.

Weight and Height Limit

The weight limit for rear-facing car seats can be as much as 40 or 50 pounds. The height limit is generally the same for most rear-facing car seats – your child’s head should be more than one inch away from the top of the car seat. The car seat instruction manual will specify the weight and height guidelines for your particular car seat.

Rear-Facing Crashes

When your child’s car seat is rear-facing, your child is five times more likely to survive the crash without serious injury compared to forward-facing. For side-impact crashes, your rear-facing child is four times safer than those riding forward-facing. A rear-facing child will move back and up somewhat in the car seat allowing the shell of the car seat to absorb more of the crash forces while the remaining forces are spread along your child’s entire back. His head, neck and torso will move together avoiding the whiplash motion.

Monthly Buckle Up Clinic

Children’s Mercy wants to make sure all children are riding safely in their vehicles and offers free monthly Buckle Up Clinics from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month. Child Passenger Safety Technicians will be available to inspect your installed car seats and help you make the necessary adjustments to ensure your child’s safety.

Appointments are required and will be scheduled in 30-minute increments per car seat. You can schedule your appointment by calling (816) 234-1607 and selecting option three.

Our next Buckle Up Clinic will be held Tuesday, March 13th.


Learn more about the Center for Childhood Safety at Children's Mercy.

Learn more about car seat safety, which includes information for families and car seat guidelines.

Watch this video about rear-facing car seats.

Watch this video about child restraint system misuse; rear-facing vs. forward-facing courtesty of UMTRI.