Children's Medical Group
Car Seat Safety
Each year, thousands of children are injured or killed in car accidents. It is critical that you keep your child safe while riding in a vehicle by following strict car safety seat guidelines. The type of seat your child needs depends on your child’s age group and size. No matter what kind of car seat you child is currently in, always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions before installing your child’s safety seat.
Types of Car Seats by Age Group
Infants: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants ride in rear-facing car seats starting with their first ride home from the hospital. Infants should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 2 years old and weigh over 20 pounds. When children reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they need to be moved into a convertible car seat and continue to ride facing the rear.
Toddlers: We recommend that children ride in rear-facing car safety seats as long as possible. When they have outgrown the rear-facing seat, they should begin using a forward-facing seat with a full harness.
School-Aged Children: Older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats should be transitioned into booster seats until adult belts fit correctly (usually between 8 and 12, when a child reaches approximately 4' 9"). A seat belt fits correctly when the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder (not the neck or throat); the lap belt is low and snug across the upper thighs (not the belly), and the child is tall enough to sit comfortably against the vehicle seat back with his or her knees bent.
Older Kids: Children should use a lap and shoulder seat belt in the back seat until they reach their teenage years. Make sure your child does not tuck the shoulder belt under his or her arm or behind his or her back. This leaves the upper body unprotected, putting your child at risk of severe injury in a crash. Never allow anyone to share seat belts; all passengers must have their own car safety seats or seat belts.
Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website for more information.