Children should ride in the backseat until they are 13 years old, since studies have shown this reduces the risk of injury by 40 to 70 percent, the AAP added.
The pediatricians' group also recommended that child safety seats not be used outside the car -- as they often are -- since they can tip and fall off tables, countertops and other surfaces. More than 8,000 infants a year are injured in each year when child safety seats are used improperly or for unintended purposes, a supplemental report warned.
"Following these guidelines will give parents peace of mind that they are doing the best job they can of protecting their children from injury in the event of a car crash," Durbin said.
The typical forward-facing car seat fits children up to about 40 pounds, though there are more than 40 models that can accommodate kids up to 60, 65 or even 85 pounds, Hoffman said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on car seat safety.
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