Protecting your child
with the proper car seat
The BEST car seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, and is easy for you to use correctly every time. To provide the best protection for your child, properly securing them in the appropriate car safety seats, booster seats, or safety belts every time is the best defense.
Four stages of protection for your child in a car
Try to keep your child rear-facing until at least 2 years old, longer if the car safety seat weight and height limit allows. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommend rear-facing as long as possible. You may want to start with an infant-only seat for convenience. You will need a convertible seat (one that faces rear and forward) when your baby outgrows the infant seat.
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until at least 5 or 6 years old. Most kids younger than 5 are not mature enough to sit still without a full harness.
Use a booster seat after your child has outgrown the harness weight limit of the forwarding-facing seat, and is mature enough to sit still. A booster will only do its job to protect your child if your child is seated in it properly with the vehicle safety belts positioned properly on him. You may need to buy a car safety seat with a harness that goes to a higher weight if your child is still too wiggly.
Use an adult seat belt when your child is big enough, usually not until he reaches 4' 9", and mature enough to wear it properly. See the 5-step Test at www.carseat.org.