Infant rear-facing car seats are designed for babies until at least one year old and 20 pounds. Some newer infant-only models are designed for babies up to 30 pounds. Infants must ride in the back seat facing the rear of the vehicle. This offers the best protection for the infant’s neck. Never put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger air bag.
Rear-facing car seats can be infant or convertible models. A rear-facing seat should recline at a 45 degree angle to keep a baby’s head from rolling forward and blocking their airway. Keep harness straps snug (allow one finger of space under the harness at the collarbone) and fasten harness clip at armpit level.
Some models have a base that can be left installed in the vehicle while the seat is used to carry the baby. If the car seat has a carrying handle, put it down while in the vehicle.
Children over one year old and between 20 and 40 pounds can be in forward-facing car seats. Forward-facing seats can be convertible, built-in seats, or forward-facing only models.
Place the car seat in upright position. Fasten the harness clip at armpit level. Keep harness straps snug. Route harness straps in upper slots at or above shoulder level.
Children between 40 and 80 pounds (usually between 4 to 8 years old) should be in booster seats. Booster seats are designed for children who have outgrown their child safety seat, but have not reached the upper weight or height limit for the vehicle seat belt to fit properly.
All booster child restraints are designed for forward-facing use only. Some booster seats must be used with both lap and shoulder belts. Each manufacturer provides specific instructions regarding proper use and installation of their child seats.
Usually children over 80 pounds can fit correctly in adult seat belts. For the best possible protection, even older children should use adult seat belts in the back seat Lap and shoulder belts should fit low over the hips and upper thighs and shoulder belt fits snug across the chest. This is usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall.
Never put shoulder belts under a child's arm or behind the back. Review your owner's manual to fully understand how your safety belts work.
Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website for additional information on child passenger safety.