Rear-Facing: Children should always ride in a rear-facing position until at least age 1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children rear-face until at least the age of 2 or have outgrown the weight or height restrictions of their rear-facing seat. In addition, many states have passed laws requiring children sit rear-facing until the age of 2. Other states have proposed the law but it has not yet been passed. Fortunately, many seats have higher rear-facing weight limits now to help keep children rear-facing as long as possible!
Booster: Children may begin riding in a booster as early as 4 but the best practice is to keep the child using a harness as long as possible. Many car seats manufactured today have higher harness weight limits to enable growing children to remain in a harness longer before transitioning to a seat belt in the booster.
Booster seats help keep the child restrained safely until reaching 4'9".
There are hundreds of options of seats out there. Some of the most important things to consider when choosing a seat are the following:
Rear-Facing: Rear-Facing Only, Convertible, 3-In-1, All-In-One
Forward-Facing: Convertible, Forward-Facing Only (Combination), 3-In-1, All-In-One
Booster: High-Back, Backless, Combination (harness removed), All-In-One (harness removed)
Seat Belt: Once a child reaches 4'9" which is often between ages 8-12, he or she can usually transition to a seat belt without the use of a booster. Always use a lap and shoulder seat belt for the best protection.
The BEST car seat is the one that fits the CHILD correctly, that fits the CAR correctly, and that YOU can install correctly every time!
Forward-Facing: Children who have outgrown the weight or height limit of their rear-facing car seat should transition to a forward-facing seat with a harness. Keep your child in their forward-facing car seat with harness until they have outgrown the weight or height limit seat by the car seat manufacturer. Many forward-facing only seats offer the option to remove the harness once the child outgrows it and continue to use the seat as a booster with a seat belt.
Front Seat: Once a child reaches the age of 13, he or she is allowed to sit in the front seat provided the seat belt fits appropriately. The back seat is always the safest location for children.