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Ask A Cop: Child Car-Seat Safety


Editor’s note: Every week a Lake Oswego police officer answers your questions in this space. Send questions to Reporter Cliff Newell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call him at 503-636-1281, ext. 105.

"The law says I can turn my baby’s car seat from rear-facing to forward-facing once he reaches both 1 year old and 20 pounds. Should I do that?"

That depends. The law does allow for that; however, it is safer for the child to ride in the rear-facing position for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children should ride rear-facing until the age of 2 or until the rear-facing height and/or weight limits of the car seat are reached.Oliver

The reason behind this is that rear-facing is safer than forward-facing. The majority of the crashes experienced are frontal crashes. Frontal crashes can occur for you if you rear end someone, T-bone someone, hit a solid barrier or are involved in a head-on crash. When the child is in the rear-facing position, the car seat dips down towards the front of the car and then rebounds back towards the rear, all the while dissipating crash forces/energy. The head, neck, back and spinal cord of the child are supported by the back of the car seat. This can result in lessened injuries or even the prevention of injury to the child.

Many of the infant-only seats have weight limits of 25 to 30 pounds and many of the convertible seats have rear-facing weight limits of up to 40 pounds.

Contact your nearest Child Passenger Safety Technician if you have questions or need further assistance at the website safekids.org/united-states-0.

— Officer Jeff Oliver