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Car Safety Chart

Rules about car seat safety for young children change as children grow. Use this simple chart, adapted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to point out each milestone for your child. It’s a good way for your children, as well as friends and relatives with whom they will ride, to measure up for each changing safety rule.

Child Car Safety Seat Rules

How do you measure up?

Before your first birthdayLess than 20 poundsRear-facing “infant-only” car seat OR convertible seat used facing the rear and secured in the back seat of the car.
20–35 poundsConvertible seat used facing the rear and secured in the back seat of the car. Look for a child safety seat that is recommended for heavier infants.
When you are 1, 2, 3, or 420–40 poundsFacing forward in a convertible seat OR forward-facing-only seat OR high-back booster/harness in the back seat of the car.
When you are 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8Less than 4'9" (57 inches) tallBelt-positioning booster seat (no back) OR high-back belt-positioning booster seat in the back seat of the car.
When you are 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12Over 4'9" (57 inches) tallYou may use an adult seatbelt, but you must keep your back against the back of the seat, your knees bent over the edge of the seat, and your feet flat on the floor in the back seat of the car.
When you are older than 12 years oldOver 4'9" (57 inches) tallYou may sit in the front passenger seat of the car with an adult seatbelt.

  • Post the Child Car Safety Seat Rules on the refrigerator. Have your children place their names in the area where they fit.
  • Use magazines, scissors, construction paper, and glue to have your children create pictures to show the safe way they should sit in anyone’s car.
  • Have your children take their booster seat when going for rides with friends or relatives. Tell friends and relatives that it’s a family rule to use the booster seat in the back.

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Updated on 4/5/2013