The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to be as clear as can be on the safest way to buckle up your kids in the car. They just released new car seat guidelines for 2017 with very specific age and weight requirements and the folks at Healthy Child have conveniently summarized the important parts, should you not want to order a whole brochure.

The AAP has even gone a step further and compiled a list of 2017 approved car seats that you can feel good about buying. Way to make a parent’s life easier, AAP!

Related: Mifold vs. BubbleBum: Travel booster seat smackdown

So I’ve dug into the new 2017 car seat guidelines to see what’s new in particular that I think parents should know.

While they remain largely the same as the guidelines last released in 2011 — notable for the strong recommendation that children under 2 remain in a rear-facing car seat — this newly released chart leaves no room for debate on age, height, and weight requirements.

Here’s a good summary of what’s new that you should know:

New 2017 car seat guidelines from the AAP |

  • Car seat guidelines for children 2 and under: The AAP recommends you use a rear-facing only seat (or one that converts from rear-facing to forward) until 2 years of age or until your child reaches the maximum weight/height restrictions allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Car seat guidelines for toddlers and preschoolers: Once children have outgrown the rear-facing seat and are over 2-years-old, they should ride in a convertible or forward-facing car seat with harness until they reach the maximum height or weight allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Car seat guidelines for school-aged children: Children should sit in a belt positioning booster seat when they have outgrown the forward-facing convertible car seat. They should remain in a booster until they are 4’9″ tall, which typically between ages 8-12.
  • Car seat guidelines for larger kids and teens: Once children have outgrown a booster seat, they can wear seat belts. However, all children under 13, regardless of height and weight, should remain in the back seat.

It’s important to be aware however that all states have different children’s car seat laws or recommendations, as you can see from this page that AAA put together.

For example, Iowa requires everyone 18 and under to wear a seatbelt, even in the back seat; in states like Maryland and New York, the requirement only goes up to 16. And then there’s South Carolina, which doesn’t seem to offer any guidance at all for children over 6.

But we say, everyone should wear seat belts, all the time, in any seat. Even us adults.

Top photo: Paul Hamilton @ Flickr Creative Commons