Basic When to Change Tip #1
Basic When to Change Tip #2
Use A Rear-Facing Seat Until Age 2
Children should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old. As your child grows, you might have to switch from using a smaller rear-facing-only car seat to using a bigger rear-facing convertible car seat that can hold a larger child. After your child reaches the weight limit for rear-facing, you will then turn the convertible seat forward facing, or use a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness and top tether.
Why keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible? If you are in a front-end crash (the most common type of crash) a rear-facing car seat allows your child’s head, neck, and spine to move evenly into the seat, not away from it.
Basic When to Change Tip #3
After your child is at least 2 years old and is too big for a rear-facing car seat, put him in a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness and top tether. Use that car seat until your child outgrows the weight or height limit allowed for that car seat.
Your child may need a forward-facing car seat with a harness that has a higher weight or height limit before moving to a booster seat.
After your child gets too big for the weight or height limits of the forward-facing car seat, put your child in a booster seat used with the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt.
How do you know when your child is ready for a booster seat? See the next tip.
Basic When to Change Tip #4
Moving to Booster Seat
Many parents aren’t sure when to switch their child to a booster seat. Sometimes parents get pressure to use a booster seat from friends, relatives, or the child.
We understand that pressure and concern, but it is safer to move from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat only when your child reaches the weight or height limit of the seat you are using. A child in a forward-facing seat with a harness and top tether is more protected than in a booster seat with lap and shoulder belt or when using just a seat belt alone.
Will your child stay in a seat without a harness? If moved to a booster seat too soon, children sometimes climb out of the booster seat. That’s not safe! If she does, it means she’s not ready for the booster seat.
Basic When to Change Tip #5
What to do with your old car seat
When your child gets too big for her car seat, you can give the seat to someone you know. Make sure the seat has all the original parts, labels, and instructions. If the seat was in a crash or is missing parts, throw it away!
When you throw away an expired or unsafe car seat, take it apart and put the pieces in separate dark trash bags to prevent someone else from using it.
Remember, car seats expire. You can find the expiration date on your car seat. Look for the date on a label or imprinted on the plastic.