The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission (NHTSA) wants you to know that “the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly.”

Finding a Car Seat That Fits Your Child

There are three types of child car seats:

  • Rear-facing: for ages birth-12 months
    Convertible and 3-in-one rear-facing child car seats have higher height and weight limits, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time, which is recommended.
  • Forward-facing: for ages 1-3 years
    Once your child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your rear-facing child car seat’s manufacturer, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
  • Booster Seat: for ages 4-7 years
    When your child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your forward-facing child car seat’s manufacturer, you child can use a booster seat, but still in the back seat where it’s safer.
  • Seat Belt: for ages 8-12 years
    Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit properly in a seat belt, in the back seat. The lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.

You can have your child’s car seat checked to be sure that you have installed it correctly at an inspection station, by a certified child passenger safety technician. To find a station near you, visit NHTSA’s website at: www.nhtsa.gov.