Child Safety Seat Recommendations
Once your child outgrows the vehicle or car seat manufacturer’s established limits for the lower anchors, stop using the lower anchor attachments and reinstall the car seat using the vehicle’s seat belt.
Congratulations—you chose the right car seat and installed it correctly. Now it’s time to register your car seat with the manufacturer to receive recalls and safety notices so your child can remain safe. Also, you can sign up with NHTSA to receive e-mail alerts about car seat and booster seat recalls.
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
Every car seat needs to be installed using either the lower anchors or a seat belt to secure it in place, never both. If you choose to use a seat belt to install your car seat, pay close attention to how to “lock” your seat belt according to the vehicle’s owner manual. With a forward-facing car seat, use a tether if one is available. Before installing your car seat make sure you understand the function and location of the vehicle and car seat parts that are used in installation.
Your child’s safety could be in jeopardy if your car seat is not installed correctly. Before you install your car seat, make sure you’re familiar with vehicle and car seat parts used in the installation process and these important installation safety tips.
Follow your car seat manufacturer’s instructions regarding when and how to use the tether for your particular seat. NHTSA recommends always using a tether with a forward-facing car seat—installed with your vehicle’s seat belt OR the lower anchors—as long as it is permitted by both the car seat and vehicle manufacturers. IMPORTANT: Both installation methods are designed to work with the tether to achieve the highest level of safety for child passengers restrained in forward-facing car seats.
Booster seat: After outgrowing forward-facing seat and until seat belts fit properly. Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat, they should be buckled in a belt positioning booster seat until seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs (not the stomach) and the shoulder belt lays across the chest (not the neck). Proper seat belt fit usually occurs when children are about 4 feet 9 inches tall and age 9-12 years.
The lower anchors are found in a minimum of two rear seating positions in a vehicle. Each lower-anchor-equipped seating position has two small horizontal bars found in the space between the vehicle seat’s back and bottom cushion (the “seat bight”).
Forward-facing car seat: After outgrowing rear-facing seat until at least age 5. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats, they should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of their seat. Check the seat’s owner’s manual and/or labels on the seat for weight and height limits.