Car Seat Buying Guide

Rear-Facing Seats
Rear-Facing Seats
Rear-Facing Seats
Rear-Facing Seats

Rear-Facing Seats: Infants

Birth to at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds

For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.  Always read the child seat instruction manual. Each manufacturer provides specific instructions.

If your child has outgrown their rear-facing seat (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds), then they’re ready for forward-facing seats. 

Shop infant car seats, convertible car seats and travel systems.

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Forward-Facing Seats: Toddlers

Age 1 & 20 lbs to Age 4 & 40 lbs

When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds), they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).

Always read the child seat instruction manual. Each manufacturer provides specific instructions regarding proper use and installation of their child seats.

Once your child outgrows their forward-facing seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they’re ready for booster seats. 

Shop convertible car seats.

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Booster Seats: Children

About age 4 to at least age 8

Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).

Always read the child seat instruction manual. Each manufacturer provides specific instructions regarding proper use and installation of their child seats.

Once your child outgrows their booster seat (usually at age 8 or when they are 4'9” tall), they’re ready for seat belts. 

Shop booster seats.

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Seat Belts: Tweens

Age 8 and older

When children outgrow their booster seats (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall), they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest). 

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Article Provided By

National Highway Traffic Safety Association
http://nhtsa.gov