Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and disability among children. Children who are not properly buckled up may be seriously hurt not only in crashes, but also from sudden stops.
Safety Belts & Safety Seats
To keep children safe, everybody needs a safety belt or safety seat. The violent forces of a crash can cause anyone who rides loose to be thrown out of the vehicle and seriously hurt.
- Infant only or rear-facing convertible seat
- Newborn to at least 1 year old (up to 20 pounds)
- May stay rear-facing longer in convertible seat (up to 30-35 pounds)
Always place rear-facing safety seats in the reclined position at a 30 to 45 degree angle. Keep the harness snug, at or below the shoulders. Never place a rear-facing child seat in front of an airbag. Most babies will outgrow an infant seat which is designed for babies 20-22 pounds before the age of 1. The next step would be to change to a convertible seat with a higher rear-facing weight limit.
Forward-Facing Seat With a Harness
- Convertible or combination seat
- 1 to 4 years old
Place forward-facing in the upright position. Move the harness straps to the proper reinforced slots. Keep the harness snug and at or above the shoulders. Check the manufacturer's instructions for exact positioning. Some types of child seats can be used as a booster when the harness is removed.
- 4 to 8 years old
Necessary for a child who has outgrown the convertible or combination seat, the booster seat keeps the lap belt positioned properly around a child's hips and the shoulder belt in the correct position. Some boosters come with a high back, others come without a back, but both must be used with a lap and shoulder belt. Boosters without a back may only be used in vehicles with a head rest. If the vehicle is equipped with a lap belt only, use a tethered harness or check with an auto dealership to have shoulder belts installed.
Adult Safety Belt
- Over 8 years old and 57 inches tall
Your child is ready for an adult safety belt when they can sit with their back against the vehicle seat, knees bent comfortably, and completely over the vehicle seat edge without slouching, and feet touching the floor. Usually children over 80 pounds, 4 feet 9 inches tall or more, and 8 to 10 years old can fit correctly in lap/shoulder belts.