Infant Car Seat Safety

Making sure children are properly buckled in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt–whichever is appropriate for their weight, height, and age is essential for infant car seat safety.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

  • Use a rear-facing car seat from birth until ages 2–4.
    • For the best possible protection, infants and toddlers should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until they reach the maximum weight and height limits of their car seat.
    • Check the car seat manual and labels on the car seat for weight and height limits.

Forward-Facing Car Seats

  • After outgrowing the rear-facing car seat, use a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5.
    • When children outgrow their rear-facing car seats, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until they reach their car seat’s upper weight or height limit.
    • Check the car seat manual and labels on the car seat for weight and height limits.

Booster Seats

  • After outgrowing the forward-facing car seat, use a booster seat until seat belts fit properly.
    • Once children outgrow their forward-facing car seat, they should be buckled in a belt-positioning booster seat, in the back seat, until seat belts fit properly.
    • Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck).

Seat Belts on Every Trip

  • Once seat belts fit properly without a booster seat, use a seat belt on every trip.
    • Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck).
    • Proper seat belt fit usually occurs when children are about 4 feet 9 inches tall and aged 9–12 years. Seat belt fit can vary by vehicle so check the fit in all vehicles. For the best possible protection, keep children properly buckled in the back seat.

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