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Car Seat Reference Guide

Car Seat Reference GuideAs children grow, car seat safety needs change. Choose the correct car seat by using your child’s age, weight and height as a guide. The following are four stages, or general guidelines, that parents should know when it comes to child-passenger safety.

STAGE 1: Infant car seats are designed for newborns who must ride rear-facing as long as possible, according to manufacturer’s instructions, or at least until they are 1 year old and 20 pounds. They usually include a carry handle to help parents transport their child to and from the car.

STAGE 2: Convertible car seats are designed for infants and toddlers. They convert from rear-facing (infants 5 to 35 pounds) to forward-facing (toddlers) for children older than 1 who weigh 20 to 40 pounds. In addition, there are harness boosters that are designed to be forward facing only. Harness boosters have two modes of use. The first is for children who are older than 1 and weigh between 22-40 pounds. The second mode is used as a belt-positioning booster for children who weight more than 40 pounds.

STAGE 3: Belt-positioning booster car seats are designed for toddlers and young children who weigh more than 40 pounds. Children should ride in a booster seat until they are 8 years old, 80 pounds and at least 4’9” tall.

STAGE 4: Adult seat belts should be used once a child is old enough, and meets the height and weight requirement. When safety belts fit children correctly, the lap and shoulder belts should both be used. Never put shoulder belts under children’s arms or behind their backs.

To determine which car seat type and model meets your child’s needs, consult with a certified child passenger safety technician and carefully read the car seat package, warning labels and instruction manual. Visit to locate a local child car seat inspection station.

Birth to at least 1 year and at least 20 pounds Infant-Only Seat/rear-facing or Convertible Seat/rear-facing.* Less than 1 year/20-35 pounds Convertible Seat/used rear-facing.*

TODDLERS: 1-4 years/20-40 pounds Convertible Seat/forward-facing or Forward-Facing only or HighBack Booster/Harness.*

YOUNG CHILDREN: 4-8 years old/unless they are 47” tall or taller Belt-Positioning Booster or High Back Belt-Positioning Booster. Never use with lap-only belts, belt-positioning boosters are always used with LAP and SHOULDER belts.

* Seats should be secured to the vehicle by the car seat belts or LATCH system. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. Vehicles made after September 1, 2002 are required to have lower anchor points and a top tether anchor (LATCH) for easy installation. While seat belts were once the only way to secure a car seat, today’s infants and convertible car seats are LATCH-equipped, meaning they have straps to secure to these anchor points.