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How do I choose the right car seat for my child?

If you have ever questioned whether or not you have the right car seat for your child, you are like hundreds of other California parents who are concerned for the safety of their children. Having your child properly restrained in a car seat that is accurately fitted to his or her weight and height is imperative for optimal safety and survival in the event of a car accident. provides parents with helpful information regarding the type of car seat a child should have depending on his or her age.

  • Birth – 12 months: During this period of time, your child should always be in a rear-facing infant seat. The car seat will have a height and weight requirement imposed by the manufacturer. Once your child outgrows either the height and/or weight requirement, you should immediately move him or her into a convertible car seat.
  • 1-3 years: A child of this age will begin in a rear-facing car seat that is often a convertible design or an all-in-one. Once the height or weight has been exceeded for rear-facing requirements, it is time to turn the car seat around forward-facing. A five-point harness should be used until the child outgrows the height or weight requirement.
  • 4-7 years: During this period, most children are ready to ride in a booster seat. This type of car seat will have a place to strap the seatbelt across the child’s lap. Some children, depending on their size, will remain in a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness until they are a little older.
  • 8-12 years: By this age, your child is probably ready to sit in the actual car seat with a seatbelt securely strapped over the lap and chest. However, children under 13 should always sit in the back seat.

As a general rule of thumb, you should always follow manufacturer guidelines for car seat use, installation, and height and weight requirements for maximum safety.

This information is not legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. It has been written for educational purposes only.


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