Whenever you’re on the road, it’s important to make sure that children are properly buckled in in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight. Here is a quick guide from the CDC to help you figure out the best choice for your child:
Rear-facing car seat (birth up to age 2)
For the best possible protection, infants and children should be buckled in a rear-facing car seat, in the back seat, until age 2 or when they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. Remember to check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag.
Forward-facing car seat (age 2 up to at least age 5)
When children outgrow their rear-facing seats they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until at least age 5 or when they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat. Reference the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.
Booster seat (age 5 up until seat belts fit properly)
Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat (by reaching the upper height or weight limit of their seat), they should be buckled in a belt-positioning booster seat until seat belts fit 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).
Once seat belts fit properly without a booster seat
Children no longer need to use a booster seat once seat belts fit them properly- when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). For the best possible protection, keep children properly buckled in the back seat until age 13- airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat.
Install and use car seats and booster seats according to the seat’s owner’s manual or get help installing them from a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.
At V&F, we strive to provide our customers with a well-rounded knowledge of all things automotive.
Since 1988, our family owned and operated service center has been providing top-quality auto repair services to Agawam, Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield, and the surrounding Massachusetts communities. If your car needs maintenance or repair, call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.
This article was originally published in 2021 and is updated annually to reflect changing best practices