As parents, we want to do everything we can in our power to protect our children. Using a car seat (child safety seat) is the best protection you can give your child when traveling by car. Child safety seats can substantially reduce the risk of a potentially fatal injury.
The best car seat is not always the most expensive one — it’s the one that best fits a child’s weight, size, and age, as well as your vehicle. Different types of car seats are required for children of different ages.
Birth through Age 2: Rear-facing child safety seat. For the best possible protection, infants and children should be kept in a rear-facing child safety seat, in the back seat buckled with the seat’s harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limits of their particular seat. The weight and height limits on rear-facing child safety seats can accommodate most children through age 2, check the seat’s owner’s manual for details.
Between Ages 2-4/Until 40 lbs – Forward-facing child safety seat. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (the weight and height limits on rear-facing car seats can accommodate most children through age 2) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat buckled with the seat’s harness, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds; many newer seats have higher weight limits-check the seat’s owner’s manual for details).
Between Ages 4-8 OR Until 4’9″ Tall – Booster seat. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (by reaching the upper height and weight limits of their seat), they should ride in belt positioning booster seats. Remember to keep children in the back seat for the best possible protection.
Remember: All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat. Never place a child in the front seat facing an airbag.
Use the safety tips below when choosing and using a car seat.
- Seventy-three percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly, so before you hit the road, check your car seat. Here’s a quick car seat checklist to help you out. It takes only 15 minutes. If you are having even the slightest trouble, questions or concerns, certified child passenger safety technicians are able to help or even double check your work.
- Buy a used car seat only if you know its full crash history. That means you must buy it from someone you know, not from a thrift store or over the Internet. Once a car seat has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced.
- We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.
- Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. While it may be tempting to dash out for a quick errand, the temperature inside your car can rise 20 degrees and cause heatstroke in the time it takes for you to run in and out of the store.
For more information about child passenger safety including selecting and installing a child safety seat, please visit http://www.mass.gov/eopss/crime-prev-personal-sfty/traffic-safety/cps/