Dayton Children’s, Safe Kids Greater Dayton and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the following to help parents navigate the car seat progression:
- Use rear-facing infant seats in the back seat from birth to at least 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds. Use the rear-facing infant car seat longer if the seat has higher weight and height limits.
- Infants who weigh 20 pounds before 1 year of age should ride in an infant carrier approved for higher rear-facing weights or a convertible seat. It is preferable to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. For optimal protection, the child should remain rear-facing until reaching the maximum weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the head is below the top of the seat back. Typically the child may be up to 30 or 35 pounds.
- A child older than 1 year and weighing more than 20 pounds should be placed in a convertible seat, which can face forward or be rear-facing. These can be used until a child reaches the upper weight limits of the seat (typically 40 pounds) and the child still fits the seat (the tops of the ears are below the top of the safety seat, the back and shoulders are below the seat strap slots).
- A child who weight less than 40 pounds and has outgrown the convertible seat should be in a forward-facing seat if he or she is too small for a booster seat. Keep your child in a safety seat with a full harness as long as possible – at least until 40 pounds.
- Use a belt-positioning booster seat in the back seat from about age 4 to at least age 8 – unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller. Safety belts, which are designed to fit adults, won’t fully restrain a child in a crash. Using a booster seat will better protect your child from being thrown from the vehicle or thrown around inside it, during a crash.
- Use safety belts in the back seat at age 8 or older or taller than 4 feet 9 inches. All children age 12 or younger should ride in the back seat. Lap and shoulder belts provides the best protection and helps the child maintain the correct seating position.