Child Safety Seat Guide

4 Steps for Kids

Step 1: Rear-Facing Seats

Rear Facing

Children should use rear-facing car seats in the back seat as long as possible to the rear-facing height and weight limits for the seat (even up to age 2 or 3). If your car seat has a rear-facing weight limit of 22 pounds or less, you should change to a convertible car seat with higher rear-facing limits and keep rear-facing for longer. Leg crowding is expected and okay. It does not cause harm as long as the child is within the weight and height limits for the seat.

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Step 2: Forward Facing with Harnesses

Forward Facing with Harnesses

Keep your child rear-facing until the top weight or height limits for the rear-facing car seat. Once top rear-facing limits are reached, use a forward-facing car seat with a harness and a tether. Keep your child in a car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit for the harness.

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Step 3: Booster Seats

Booster Seats

Use car seats with harnesses to the top weight or height limits for the harnesses. Once children outgrow harnesses, use a booster seat in the back seat until the seat belt fits properly. A booster seat is often needed until a child is around 4 feet 9 inches tall. Your child may be about 12 years old before he/she is ready for a seat belt.

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Step 4: Seat Belts

Seat Belts

Older children should use a lap-shoulder seat belt in the back seat once they outgrow a booster seat. They have not outgrown a booster seat until the seat belt fits correctly: (1) The shoulder strap should cross the center of the chest and rest on the shoulder (not the neck). (2) The lap belt should fit low and snug on the upper thighs (not the stomach). (3) The knees should bend at the edge of the vehicle seat when sitting all the way back.

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