Car Seat Graphics
How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes
Rear and Forward-Facing Car Seats
Rear-Facing Car Seats
Forward-Facing Car Seats
Buckle Kids Right: Know the Car Seat Stages
- Rear-facing: Birth up to age 2
- Forward-facing: Age 2 up to at least age 5
- Booster Seats: Until seat belts fit properly
- Seat Belts: When they fit properly and throughout life.
Always properly buckle children aged 12 and under in the back seat!
Is your child's car seat properly installed?
Use LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to install the car seat. Check your car seat owner’s manual and vehicle owner’s manual for LATCH weight limits. OR Use the vehicle’s seat belt by placing it through back and/or bottom of child safety seat as indicated on the seat/user’s manual. Make sure seat belt is buckled and locked.
Regardless of whether you use LATCH or the vehicle’s seat belt to install, ALWAYS ensure the top tether is tightly secured for forward-facing seats. Many rear-facing car seats should not touch the front seat. Check to see if your car seat has the 1″ rule.
The car seat should not be able to move more than 1 inch from side-to-side or front-to-back. Check the installation guides in the car seat owner’s manual and vehicle owner’s manual.
Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag. Always properly buckle children aged 12 and under in the back seat!
Using the correct car seat or booster seat can be a lifesaver
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 car 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 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.
Child safety seat recommendations: American Academy of Pediatrics.
Graphic design: adapted from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Listen to CDC podcasts on your computer or download them for reliable health and safety information when and where you want it. New to podcasting? See Podcast Help.
- Kids in Cars (2015 Cup of Health)
- Kids in Cars (2015 Minute of Health)
- Kids in Cars (2014 Cup of Health)
- Kids in Cars (2014 Minute of Health)
- Vital Signs – Child Passenger Safety
- Seguridad de los niños en automóviles (Child Passenger Safety)
- Restrain Your Children (Cup of Health)
- Restrain Your Children (Minute of Health)
- Buckle ’em Up