Monday, August 19, 2019

Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook is urging parents to keep their children in rear-facing car seats as long as possible. To make sure they get the message, Dr. Cook is explaining the updated car seat recommendations in a parody rap video.

“It can be confusing for parents when the recommendations keep changing,” said Dr. Cook. “But we know they want to have the correct information so they can keep their kids as safe as possible. We thought this would be a fun way to give them that.”

The video, titled “Babies Face Back,” details the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Car Seat Safety Event

Proper car seat installation is also crucial. If you need help installing a car seat or want to make sure yours is in correctly, please come to Norman Regional Health System’s Car Seat Safety Event with the Norman Fire Department, Norman Police Department and Cleveland County Health Department. It’s being held Sept. 12 from 3-6 p.m. at Norman Regional HealthPlex, 3300 HealthPlex Parkway in Norman, OK.

According to the AAP, when a child rides 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 crash forces, and protecting the most vulnerable parts of the body. When children ride forward-facing, their bodies are restrained by the harness straps, but their heads – which for toddlers are disproportionately large and heavy – are thrown forward, possibly resulting in spine and head injuries.

“Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can’t wait to reach,” said Dr. Cook. “But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child.”

The Recommendations

The AAP recommends:

  • Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible, until they reach the height and weight limits for their seats. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.
  • When children exceed these limits, they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly. This is often when they have reached at least 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years old.
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
  • All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for the most protection.

Experts say using the correct car safety seat or booster seat lowers the risk of death or serious injury by more than 70 percent.