As children grow, how they are secured in your vehicle will change based on their age, weight, height and developmental needs. The following guide will help you choose the correct child restraint for each stage of your child's growth and development. It is imperative that families do not skip a step for the optimal safety of their child.
Before Baby Arrives
When you're an expectant mother, it's important to always wear your seat belt to protect you and your unborn child. Wear the lap belt across your hips and below your belly with the shoulder belt across your chest (between the breasts).
For the best possible protection keep infants in a back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible, until 2 years of age or up to the maximum height or weight limit of their particular car seat. Children in the second year of life (12-24 months) are over 5 times less likely to be seriously injured or die in a crash if they are secured rear-facing. Article in Injury Prevention 2007; 13: 398-402 "Car Safety Seats for children: rear-facing for best protection.
When children outgrow their rear-facing car seats they should ride in a forward-facing child safety seat, in a back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat.
Belt-Positioning Booster Seat
Once children outgrow their forward-facing car seat , they should ride in belt-positioning booster seats, in a back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lies across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest. All children under the age of 13 should ride in a back seat.
When children outgrow their belt-positioning booster seats, they can use the adult seat belt in a back seat, if it fits properly, (the lap belt lays across the hips/upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the center of the chest and shoulder). All children under age 13 should ride in a back seat.