• Birth to 12 months: For the best possible protection, your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats; infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
• 1-3 years: Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until the child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
• 4-7 years: Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until the child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
• 8-12 years: Keep your child in a booster seat until the child is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, 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.
• Select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and use it on every trip, every time.
• Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions, read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) system, and check height and weight limits.
• To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
• Keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.