Child Passenger Safety

At a glance: To help protect children while they're riding in your car, follow these car seat and seat belt safety guidelines. In general, kids should ride in the back seat until they're 13 years old, and they should use a car safety seat if they're less than 4 feet 9 inches tall. Following these guidelines helps prevent injuries during a car crash.

Child Safety Seat Tips

Until they're tall enough to wear a properly positioned adult seat belt, kids will need to use a car safety seat. Using these seats, when they're correctly installed, reduces fatal injuries in a car crash by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Review these safety guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for help choosing the right car safety seat for your child:

Infants: Infants should ride rear-facing at least until they're 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. Once they exceed the weight or height limit set by their infant safety seat's manufacturer, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible safety seat.

Toddlers: It's best to keep toddlers rear-facing as long as possible. When they've outgrown their convertible safety seat rear-facing, they should use a forward-facing safety seat with a full harness, until they exceed the weight and/or height limit set by the seat's manufacturer.

Young children: Children who've outgrown a convertible safety seat should use a booster seat until they're at least 4 feet
9 inches tall (between 8 and 12 years old) and can wear a properly positioned adult seat belt.

Child Seat Belt Tips

  • Kids who are tall enough to wear an adult seat belt should still ride in the back seat until they turn 13 years old.
  • Adjust the seat belt so the lap belt crosses the child's upper thighs and the diagonal belt crosses her upper chest and a point between her neck and shoulder.

For more information about child safety and to find a child seat inspection station, visit NHTSA.gov/Safety/CPS.

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