Use the Correct Car Seat
Using the correct car seat or booster seat can be a lifesaver: make sure your child is always buckled in an age-and size-appropriate cat seat or booster seat.
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Birth up to Age 2
Buckle children in a rear-facing seat until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
Age 2 up to at least age 5*
When children outgrow their rear-facing seat, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of that seat.
Age 5 up until seat belts fit properly*
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should be buckled in a booster seat until seat belts fit properly. The recommended height for proper seat belt fit is 57 inches tall.
Once seat belts 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 highs (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 rear-facing 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.
- Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Announcement on Child Passenger Safety Week
- National Child Passenger Safety Week
- CDC Vital Signs: Child Passenger Safety: Buckle up every age, every trip
- Child Passenger Safety: Information and Resources
- Protect the Ones You Love from Road Traffic Injuries
- Task Force on Community Preventive Services and the Community Guide: Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety
- CDC National Action Plan for Child Injury Prevention
- CDC Childhood Injury Report
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Child Safety
- American Academy of Pediatrics Child Passenger Safety Policy Statement
- American Academy of Pediatrics Child Passenger Safety Technical Report
Podcasts on Child Passenger Safety
- Page last reviewed: September 19, 2016
- Page last updated: September 19, 2016
- Content source:
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs