Child Safety Seat Restraint System
Airlines must allow a child who is under the age of 18 to use an approved CRS that is properly labeled, appropriate for the child's weight, and as long as the child is properly secured in the CRS. Many companies manufacture CRSs approved for use on aircraft that are specifically designed for larger children who are physically challenged. See Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings for more information.
Booster seats and harness vests enhance safety in vehicles. However, the FAA prohibits passengers from using these types of restraints and belly belts during ground movement, take-off and landing because they do not provide the best protection. The FAA encourages parents to make the best safety choice by using an approved CRS during all phases of flight. While there is no regulatory prohibition from using a booster seat or harness vest (or other non-approved devices) for a lap child during the cruise portion of the flight only, airlines have policies which may or may not allow the use of those devices. Check with your airline.
It is recommended that children sit rear-facing for as long as possible. In Scandinavian countries, for example, children sit rear-facing until around 4 years old. Rear-facing car seats are significantly safer in frontal collisions, which are the most likely to cause severe injury and death. Rear-facing group 1 car seats are becoming more widespread but are still difficult to source in many countries.
For young infants, the seat used is an infant carrier with typical weight recommendations of 5-20 lb. Most infant seats made in the US can now be used up to at least 22 pounds (10.0 kg) and 29 inches (74 cm), with some going up to 35 pounds (16 kg). In the past, most infant seats in the US went to 20 pounds (9.1 kg) and 26 inches (66 cm). Infant carriers are often also called "Bucket Seats" as they resemble a bucket with a handle. Some (but not all) seats can be used with the base secured, or with the carrier strapped in alone. Some seats do not have bases. Infant carriers are mounted rear-facing and are designed to "cocoon" against the back of the vehicle seat in the event of a collision, with the impact being absorbed in the outer shell of the restraint. Rear-facing seats are deemed the safest, and in the US children must remain in this position until they are at least 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds (9.1 kg). although it is recommended to keep them rear-facing until at least 2 years old or until they outgrow the rear-facing car seat height and weight, whichever is longer.
For a child restraint to be sold or used within any of the 56 UNECE member states it must be approved by the standards of UNECE Regulation 44/04, Directive 77/541/EEC or any other subsequent adaptation thereto. In order to be granted ECE R44 approval the child restraint must comply with several design, construction and production conformity standards. If approval is granted the seat can display an orange label with the unique approval license number, the type of approval, the mass group approved for and the details of the manufacturer.