Using a size-appropriate car seat every time you travel with your son or daughter is one of the more effective ways to keep him or her safe. After all, car and booster seats substantially cut the risk of both serious injury and death for children under the age of 13.
When you were a child, you may have spent only a few years in a car seat. Depending on your age, you may then have moved from a car seat to a regular seat belt without ever sitting in a booster seat. Still, safety recommendations have changed considerably in recent years.
Car seats for babies and toddlers depend on height and weight
Between birth and one year, the NHTSA recommends placing your baby in a rear-facing car seat in the back of your vehicle. After your child becomes too tall and too heavy for a rear-facing car seat, it is time to upgrade to a front-facing one. For your son or daughter, this is likely to happen somewhere between the ages of one and three.
Forward-facing seats may be necessary until the age of seven
Until your child exceeds the height and weight limits of a forward-facing car seat, this type of seat offers the most protection. For many children, forward-facing seats are appropriate until the age of seven. Still, you may have to buy a larger forward-facing seat as your young child grows.
A booster seat is an important transition
After your child outgrows the largest forward-facing car seat, he or she may still be too small for your car’s seat belts. Therefore, until the seat belt fits properly, you may need to place your child in a booster seat. Depending on the height of your son or daughter, a booster seat may be necessary even into the teenage years.
Ultimately, regularly monitoring your child’s height and weight is a good way to know when you need to upgrade his or her car seat.