As children grow, how they sit safely in a car, truck, van or SUV changes. For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers simply need to remember and follow the following steps:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, then choose a seat that fits in your vehicle, and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions (check height and weight limits) and read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
- To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
- Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
- Use rear-facing infant seats in the back seat from birth to at least 1 year and at least 20 pounds.
- Use forward-facing toddler seats in the back seat from age 1 and 20 pounds to about age 4 and 40 pounds.
- Use booster seats in the back seat from about age 4 to at least age 8 unless the child is 4'9" or taller.
- Use safety belts in the back seat at age 8 or older or when the child is taller than 4'9".
- All children younger than age 13 should ride in the back seat.
Some parents or caregivers may regard booster seats as a hassle to use or difficult to convince their children to use. But protecting the ones you love means getting past the temporary complaints and perceived hassles. Use a booster seat because you love them.
Learn more about proper child passenger safety seats.