Convertable car seatEach year thousands of children are killed or injured in car accidents. Most parents are careful to use the proper car seat while their child is a baby by using an infant car seat or a rear facing convertible car seat. Parents are still careful through ages 3 to 4. After that the guidelines and laws governing child restraints gets confusing and many parents simply are not sure what the appropriate child restraint method is. Should they use a convertible car seat, a booster seat or simply a seat belt? Most states have age and weight requirements that determine the type of car seat that needs to be used. Parents should check with their local law enforcement of fire department for the laws in their area. In addition, there are several excellent web sites that offer guidelines that are used in most states and I have provided links in the resources section below.

Things You Will Need

Appropriate car seat for the child's age and weight

Step 1

Reat facing infant car seat

The First step is deciding on which type of car seat is appropriate based on the child's age and weight. The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants ride in rear facing infant seats or rear facing convertible seats starting with their first ride home from the hospital. They should continue to ride facing the rear until they are at least 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. Some hospitals and birthing centers are now requiring child car seat safety classes as part of their prenatal education requirements.

Step 2

High back car seat

The academy also recommends that toddlers and preschoolers use convertible seats but that they continue to ride facing the rear as long as possible, at least until they are 1 year old and 20 pounds in weight. Most states require that children ride in a harnessed seat until they reach 4 years old and at least 40 pounds.

Step 3

Booster car seat

Booster seats are for school aged children who have outgrown their forward facing car safety seats. The academy recommends that they use a booster seat until adult seat belts fit correctly. This is usually between the ages of 8 and 12 years old and a height of about 4' 9" tall.

Step 4

Children who have outgrown booster seats should ride in the back seat using a lap and shoulder belt until they reach the age of 13 years old. This is true especially if you have airbags.

With thousands of children being killed or injured in car accidents each year, it is important that parents are careful to use the proper car seat while their child is a baby by using an infant car seat or a rear facing convertible car seat and continue to use the proper car seat as the child grows.

Tips & Warnings

Always read, understand and follow the instructions provided by the car seat manufacturer. If you do not have the instructions, contact the manufacturer. Many companies have downloadable instructions on their web sites.