Forward-Facing Seats with Harnesses

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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.

        • Toddlers and preschoolers 2 years or older should use a forward-facing safety seat with a harness in the back seat, and should use harnesses until at least 40 pounds.
        • Children should remain in safety seats with harness straps until at least 40 pounds or to the maximum weight limit for harness straps. Avoid graduating to a booster seat until at least 40 pounds (or later if possible).
        • There are a variety of seat options: Convertible, Forward- facing, Combination Toddler/Booster seats.
        • Read labels and seat instructions to determine the correct seat for age, weight and height. Maximum forward-facing harness weight range can vary from 40-85+ pounds.
        • Make sure child is within weight/height limits for the seat and head is more than one inch below the top of the car seat shell.
        • READ the instruction manual AND the safety belt/seat section in your vehicle manual for proper installation guidance.
        • Children under 13 years old should always ride in the back seat.
        • Install safety seats tightly in the vehicle; less than an inch of movement.
        • If using a safety belt to install, LOCK the vehicle safety belt to keep it tight; refer to labels on belt, vehicle owner’s manual, and car seat instruction manual.

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  • Use the tether and lower anchor system if your vehicle and safety seat have such hardware (see figures). Unless your vehicle and safety seat both have the anchor system, you will still need to use safety belts to secure your child’s seat. Read vehicle owner’s manual carefully for proper positioning in the vehicle.
  • Important note: There are new regulations for LATCH beginning in 2014. Car seat manufacturers are required to warn parents not to use the lower car seat anchors if the combined weight of the child and car seat reaches 65 pounds. The seat should be installed using the safety belt system instead.
  • Use either the lower anchors or safety belt system to install, not both!
  • Always use the tether when forward facing a harnessed seat, regardless of whether you are installing with lower anchors or a safety belt.
  • Position the seat upright when forward-facing.
  • Route harness straps at or above shoulders when forward-facing.
  • Install harness snugly; webbing should be straight without sagging or permitting a fold.
  • Fasten the chest clip at armpit level.

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Step 3: Booster Seats