In order to minimize the risk of injury to your child in the event of a motor vehicle accident, follow these important guidelines set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Infants – from 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.
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).
Children – from 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).
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).
To find a child safety seat inspection site near you, call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-888-327-4236 or visit their website at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.