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Car-seats and seatbelts are essential for safe travel for you and your children. The following is a brief review of these safety tools, and their associated safety rules, from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Important rules

  1. ALWAYS use a car-seat or seatbelt according to the guidelines for your children. Be a role model and ALWAYS wear a seatbelt yourself.
  2. Never place a car-seat in the front seat of any vehicle, particularly one that has a passenger airbag.
  3. Children younger than 13 years should never ride in the front seat.
  4. Every car-seat is different, so use the instructions that come with your car-seat to be sure you are using it correctly.
  5. A certified Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician can help install your car-seat. You may call toll-free 866-732-8243 (866-SEATCHECK), or visit to set up a child safety seat inspection appointment.

Rear-facing seats

  1. ALL children less than two years old should face rear in their car seat..
  2. There are two types of rear-facing seats: infant-only seats and convertible seats.
    • Infant-only seats are small, often have carrying handles, have built-in harnesses, are used from birth up to 22-30 pounds, depending on the model, and may come with a base that can be left in the car.
    • Convertible seats are used rear-facing for infants and children less than two years old. They are equipped with different harness types: five-point harness, overhead shield, and T-shield. Look for models that have more than one set of harness slots to allow your baby room to grow. When locked into place, the harness should rest at or be- low your baby’s shoulders when your baby is rear-facing. For infants, these seats should always be used in the reclined position.

Forward-facing seats

  1. Once your child is two years old, or has exceeded the weight and height specifications for your convertible car seat, he or she can ride forward- facing. Turn the car-seat around according to your instruction manual.
  2. When changing from rear-facing to forward- facing, be sure the shoulder harness straps are at or above your child’s shoulders. You should also change the seat from the reclined to the upright position.
  3. Review the instructions for your car-seat to confirm proper installation.

Booster seats

  1. Booster seats are meant to elevate your child so that your car’s lap and shoulder seatbelts fit properly. The lap belt should fit low across your child’s upper thighs, and the shoulder belt should cross the middle of your child’s shoulder and chest.
  2. High-back and backless booster seats are available as well as combination forward- facing car-seat/booster seats.
  3. Children should ride in a car-seat with harness as long as possible before moving to a booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when:
    • Your child reaches the top weight or height allowed by the car-seat with a harness.
    • Your child’s shoulders are above the harness slots.
    • Your child’s ears have reached the top of the seat.


  1. Seatbelts are made for adults. Children are generally ready for seatbelts when they are four feet and nine inches in height, usually between 10 to 12 years old.
  2. The belt must fit properly: the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the shoulder and chest, and the lap belt is low and snug on the child’s thighs. Your child’s knees should bend comfortably as they sit in the seat.
  3. The safest place for children under age 13 years is in the back seat. 

REMEMBER: Every car-seat and booster seat is different. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions provided with your particular seat for maximum safety. And ALWAYS use a seatbelt yourself!

For a more complete discussion on car-seats and seatbelts, including more details on installation, have a look at the American Academy of Pediatrics website: