Car Seat Requirements

Car full of boysEvery day we strap our kids into car seats as we drive around, but do you really know the requirements and recommendations for those seats. When is it OK for kids to move to booster seats? When can they ride without a booster? What are the laws in your state?

The American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendations in March of 2011. The biggest change was that they recommended children stay rear-facing until age two or until they reach the height and weight maximum of the seat when rear-facing.

First, here is a definition all the types of seats.

  • Rear-facing seat – a seat that is designed only to be used rear-facing that attaches to the car using LATCH or seat belt.
  • Convertible car seat – a seat that can be used both rear-facing and front-facing. It has an attached harness and is connected to the car using either the LATCH system or car’s seat belt.
  • All-in-one or 3-in-1 – a seat that can be used rear-facing, front-facing and can convert into a booster seat. It has an attached harness and connects to car using LATCH or seat belt.
  • Booster seat – a seat that helps position a child to use the car’s built in seat belt correctly. They can have a back to help position the shoulder belt or no back if the child is tall enough to use the shoulder belt correctly.

To help understand the recommendations I put together this chart. Also included are the state requirements for the use of child seats in Washington and Oregon as examples. If you don’t live in those states, be sure to check your state requirements.

car seats

It is important to keep your children safe by putting them in the appropriate seat for their age, weight and height.



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