Injury and Violence Prevention Branch
Child Safety Seats
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) offers Four Steps for Kids’ Passenger Seat Safety:
- For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
- When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds; check your car seat manufacturer's specifications).
- Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).
- When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).
The N.C. Child Passenger Safety Resource Center also offers a way to search for child passenger safety and seat belt information and technical assistance in local communities. Certified inspectors at these locations can teach you about proper child restraint use and installation. Safe Kids North Carolina also offers some great tips and resources for parents and caregivers about child passenger safety.