Bouncy seats and teething rattles are helpful for growing babies. Textured books and educational toys speed the process of learning and development. But throughout the growing process, one item that remains on parents’ must have list from year to year is a proper car seat that will continue to grow with the child and protect them. With your precious cargo in tow, it’s important to stay informed about the safety guidelines and choose a car seat that will keep your child secure and positioned for years to come. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
Birth – 12 Months
Rear-Facing Car Seat
- All children under one year should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
- Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing.
- Babies should remain rear-facing in convertible seats for as long as possible, until they reach the manufacturer’s maximum weight and height limits. Seats can then be turned to face forward.
Convertible and all-in-one car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, which allows your child to stay rear-facing for a longer period of time.
Rear-facing car seats should always have harness straps at or below the shoulder and placed in the designated slots as the user manual specifies.
1 – 3 Years
Forward-Facing Car Seat
- Keep child rear-facing as long as possible, as it is the safest way to travel.
- Continue to face the seat toward the rear until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
- When your child outgrows the rear-facing seat, switch to forward-facing car seat with harness and tether.
4- 7 Years
40 – 120 lbs.
When your little one shows signs of outgrowing the convertible seat, but is still too small to convert to just a seat belt alone (approximately 4-8 years old), it’s time for a boost and the help of a booster seat. Here are the three types of booster seats:
Combination Booster Seat
Forward-Facing with Harness: 20-65 lbs.
Belt-Positioning Booster: 40-120 lbs.
- These types of boosters should be used with a 5-point harness for children up to 65 lbs.
- Remove harness and use as a booster seat with vehicle’s seat belt system.
- Place harness straps at or above shoulder level.
- Once child exceeds weight and height limits, remove internal harness and use as a belt-positioning booster.
- Be sure harness is snug and chest clip is adjusted to armpit level.
Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat
- Belt-positioning booster car seats feature full head support and raise child up for a better fit while using car’s own vehicle seat belt system.
- Use all boosters with both lap and shoulder belts, never with the lap belt alone.
No-Back Booster Seat
- This booster uses the car’s own seat belt system and head support to appropriately restrain and protect children in the appropriate weight range.
- When your child reaches the approximate height of 4’9″ and weighs 80 pounds, he or she may no longer need to use a booster car seat.
- State and local laws vary on this regulation.
8 – 12 Years
- Keep your child in a booster seat until a seat belt fits properly.
- Lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach in order to fit safely and securely.
- Shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face.
- The child should still be riding in the back of the car.
Additional Car Seat Tips
- Choose a car seat based on your child’s age and size.
- Select a seat that fits your vehicle and use it every time.
- Refer to car seat manufacturer’s instructions and read the car owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
- For maximum safety, keep your child in a car seat for as long as possible (at least through age 12), as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
Bachman Chevrolet is committed to keeping your family safe while in the car. For more information about child seat safety, click here for a cool infographic that lays out the regulations and best practices for car seat safety.
Car seat guidelines are laid out and should be followed according to each car seat’s specified manual.