Using the right size seat and applying safety straps appropriately is vital to keeping a child safe in the car. Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an active air bag. If a car seat can’t be placed in the back seat, disable the passenger airbag to reduce the risk for injury.
The following are some guidelines by age to using the appropriate car seat:
Birth to age 2
Children should ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, usually until they’re at least 2 or until they reach the upper weight limit, which is 40 pounds or more.
Shop for a rear-facing car seat here.
This type of car seat cushions a child’s delicate neck and spinal cord. If you start with an infant carrier, change to a convertible car seat when they outgrow it, but leave the car seat rear-facing.
Ages 2 to 8 (or older)
Children should ride in a forward-facing seat for as long as possible until they reach the upper height or weight limit of their seat. Buy one online.
This car seat protects against forward movement should a crash occur. The seat should have the weight and height limits listed. Usually, the maximum weight limit is between 40 and 65 pounds.
Ages 8 to 12
When a child has outgrown the weight and height limits for a forward-facing seat, they’ll need a belt-positioning booster seat. Shop for one now.
This helps a child sit at the safest angle and height to prevent injuries in a car accident.
Children will usually stay in this booster seat until they’re over 4 feet, 9 inches tall. This booster seat ensures the seat belt fits over the strongest parts of a child’s body so they’re less likely to be injured in a crash.
Children older than 13
While teenagers can ride in the front seat, they should always wear their seat belts.
At each stage, a car seat or booster is intended to position a child at the safest and most secure angle to protect them against impact and car accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the lives of 248 children under 5 years old were saved by car seats in 2015.