Child Safety Seat Age
Child restraints are sometimes the subject of manufacturing recalls. Recalls vary in severity; sometimes the manufacturer will send an additional part for the seat, other times they will provide an entirely new seat.
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.
Children traveling by plane are safer in a child safety seat than in a parent's arms. The FAA and the AAP recommend that all children under 40 lb use a child safety seat on a plane. Booster seats cannot be used on airplanes because they don't have shoulder belts.
There has been some criticism of forward-facing child safety seats, in particular by the economist Steven D. Levitt, author of the popular book Freakonomics. Levitt's study and findings have been criticized and refuted by subsequent peer reviewed studies, which found child safety seats offer a considerable safety advantage over seat belts alone.
Most convertible seats in the U.S. have at least a 16 kg (35 lb) rear-facing weight limit, most now to go to 18 kg (40 lb), some 20 kg (44 lb) and a few 23 kg (51 lb). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children remain rear-facing until they outgrow their convertible seat, regardless of how old they are. Children can remain in a rear-facing seat until they have either outgrown the weight limit for their seat, or the top of their head is within 25 mm (1 in) of the top of the shell of the car seat.
In Australia there are six different types (Type A to Type F) of child restraints under the mandatory standard. Note: these restraints are NOT based on weight but on HEIGHT. All car seats with the AS/NZ1754 sticker will have height markers. These markers show clearly for what height the seat is appropriate.
In 2013, a new car seat regulation was introduced: “i-Size” is the name of a new European safety regulation that affects car seats for children under 15 months of age. It came into effect in July 2013 and provides extra protection in several ways, most notably by providing rearward facing travel for children up to 15 months instead of 9 to 12 months, which the previous EU regulation advised.
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.