The following information is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
CAR SEAT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHILDREN
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it every time.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions; read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or LATCH system; and check height and weight limits.
- 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.
Car Seats for Children: Birth to 12 Months
Children under the age of 1 should always ride in a REAR-FACING car seat.
There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only car seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
Car Seats for Children: 1 to 3 Years Old
Keep your 1 to 3 year old children in REAR-FACING car seats for as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep them safe. They should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
Once outgrown the rear-facing car seat, they are ready to travel in a FORWARD-FACING car seat with a harness.
Car Seats for Children: 4 to 7 Years Old
Keep your 4 to 7 year old children in FORWARD-FACING car seats with a harness until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
Once they outgrow their forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a BOOSTER SEAT … and still in the back seat.
Car Seats for Children: 8 to 12 Years Old
Keep your 8 to 12 year old children in BOOSTER SEATS until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.
Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it is safer there.