The following information is taken from the Safe Kids Coalition:

Are you turning your child to face forward too soon?
Small children have large heads and comparatively weak necks. So if a child is riding in a forward-facing car seat when there’s a head-on collision (the most common type of crash), the child can jerk forward suddenly and violently, resulting in head, neck or spinal injuries.

For the best possible protection, keep your infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in a back seat for as long as possible—up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. The "12-months-and-20-pounds" rule that many parents cite when turning their child forward in the car is actually the minimum size and age requirement.

Never turn your child forward-facing before age 1 and at least 20 pounds, although keeping your kids rear-facing until about age 2 is safer if the seat allows.

When using an infant seat, follow these tips to keep your child safe:

    • Use a rear-facing car seat correctly in a back seat every time your baby rides in a car.
    • Use the right car seat for your baby’s weight and height. Infants are weighed and measured at every doctor visit, so be sure to keep track.
    • Use your baby’s car seat rear-facing and reclined no more than 45 degrees, so the baby’s head stays in contact with the seat and the baby’s airway stays open. Read the car seat instructions.
    • Find where the frontal airbags are in your vehicle by checking the owner’s manual. Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag. Children are always safest in a back seat.

Q: What are some of the common mistakes parents make installing a seat?
A: Once you have found a car seat that is right for your child’s height and weight and fits in your vehicle well, there are a few other tips to make sure your baby is buckled up the right way.

    • Use the car’s safety belt or LATCH system to lock the car seat into the car. Your car seat should not move more than one inch side to side or front to back. Grab the car seat at the safety belt path or LATCH path to test it.
    • Put harnesses through the slots so they are even with or below the infant’s shoulders. Be sure the harness is tight, so you can’t pinch extra webbing at the shoulder.
    • Adjust the chest clip at armpit level.