Pro Car Seat Safety, a division of Pro Consumer Safety released a "Best Practice Standard" to help remind parents that car seat manufacturers are designing car seats at a greater height and weight maximum so children can ride at each stage longer. Depending on the the car seat design, children can ride rear-facing to around kindergarten age. Of course this ranges between 3-5 years depending on the seat height and weight maximum and the child's size. The important thing for parents to understand is that car seats are going to a greater height and weight maximum so kids can ride in each stage longer. This helps to keep them safer by giving them the physical support they need to protect their neck and brain from injury during a car crash as seen in this video.
A WARNING TO PARENTS!
When infants and toddlers are advanced to a forward-facing position too soon, this increases their risk for neck and traumatic brain injury or death during a car crash. Keeping children rear-facing longer, according to the car seat height and weight recommendations, provides them with proper head and neck support.
Some car seats are now designed for rear-facing for children up to around 43 inches or 50 pounds. This is great news because children can now be seated in a rear-facing to three to even five years of age, depending on the height and weight of the seat and child. Therefore giving the child more support and protection during a collision. When I provide consultation to parents and make them aware of the increased height and weight in many rear-facing restraint systems, they often are surprised that their child can ride rear-facing to about kindergarten age, depending on the height and weight maximum and the child. While parents have specific milestones for infants and toddlers, when it comes to car seat seating positions, the new milestone is to be rear-facing (birth to 3-5 years) from birth to on average about kindergarten age (depending on the maximum weight and height of the car seat and child). Followed by forward-facing (3-5 to 6-7 years) school-aged, booster seats (6-7 to 10-12 years), then to seat belt use, after they pass the seat belt test, usually between 10-12 years of age.