Using the correct car seat or booster can be a lifesaver: make sure your child is always buckled in an age- and size-appropriate car seat or booster seat.

  • Rear-facing car seat: Birth until age 2-4. Buckle children in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the maximum weight or height limit of their car seat. Keep children in rear-facing as long as possible.
  • Forward-facing car seat: After outgrowing rear-facing car seat until at least age 5. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their seat.
  • Booster seat: After outgrowing forward-facing seat and until seat belts fit properly. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should be buckled in a belt positioning booster seat until seat belts fit properly. Proper seat belt fit usually occurs when children are about 4 feet 9 inches tall and age 9-12 years.
  • Seat Belt: Once seat belts fit properly without a booster seat. Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck).


Keep children ages 12 and under in the back seat. Never place a car seat in front of an active air bag.

*Recommended age ranges for each seat type vary to account for differences in child growth and height/weight limits of car seats and booster seats. Use the car seat or booster seat owner’s manual to check installation and the seat height/weight limits, and proper seat use.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.

Child safety seat recommendations: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Graphic design: adapted from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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