Car Seat Laws and NHTSA Recommendations – What You Need To Know

When it comes to choosing the Best Car Seat for your little one, there are a few things you need to know before you make your first purchase. Car Seat Laws in your state is number one!

Car Seat Laws

Car Seat Laws - Car Seat SafetyFirst and foremost, you’ll need to know what your states requirements are for car seat laws. As a standard, most states require that your child ride rear-facing until the age of 1 and 20 pounds. From the age of 1 to 3, most states car seat laws require that your child ride in a harnessed forward-facing car seat until they reach 40 pounds. After that, the requirements start to vary. Most states require that  a child seat or booster seat be used until the child reaches the age of at least 5, other states say 7, and some say 8.

One thing is certain, if you do not follow your states car seat laws, you will be fined. In fact, in some states the fines costs just as much, if not twice as much, as what a car seat would cost, even a top of the line car seat, totaling somewhere around $250 dollars.

Click here to see what your states Car Seat Laws include.

Car Seat Recommendations

Britax Parkway SG Booster Seat - Follows all Car Seat Laws

Britax Parkway SG Booster Seat

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Admin) and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) put out a set of car seat safety recommendations every couple years. Although these recommendations are not car seat laws, it’s very important to consider them before you buy a car seat.

The NHTSA and AAP recommend keeping your child in a car seat for as long as possible, or as long as they fit within the car seat’s weight and height requirements.

Birth – 12 months

Any child under the age of 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat (follows most car seat laws), whether it’s an infant car seat or a convertible car seat.

1 – 3 years

Keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible. Convertible car seats usually allow your child to ride rear facing up to at least 40 pounds. Follow your car seat manufacturers seat requirements. If your child outgrows the rear-facing weight or height requirements, they should then ride forward-facing and harnessed. (Most car seat laws only require that you child ride rear facing up to 1 year or 20 pounds)

4 – 7 years

Booster Seat - Best Fit Car Seat RecommendationsKeep your child forward-facing and harnessed for as long as possible. If your car seat allows your child to ride harnessed all the way up to 80 pounds, then do it. If not, once your child outgrows the harness, they should then ride in a booster seat. (Most car seat laws only require a booster seat at this age up until the age of 7)

8 – 12 years

Keep your child in a booster seat until they can properly fit in your vehicles seat belts. A seat belt fits properly if, the lap belt is snug across your child’s thighs, not their stomach, and if the shoulder belt is snug across your child’s chest and shoulder, not their neck or face. (There are only a few states with car seat laws that require a booster seat until the age of 8)

Click here to see the NHTSA Recommendations

As a parent myself, I know that choosing the best car seat is a daunting task, one that takes lots of research. Within this website I’ve provided full reviews on many of what I think are the best car seats available. Our number one priority as parents is to provide the best possible protection for our children, and understanding car seat laws and car seat safety recommendations is the first step.

Click here for a list of some of the Best Car Seats on the market, including infant car seats, convertible car seats, and booster seats.

Related Articles:

Car Seat Safety – The truth about car seat crash testing.

Which Position Is The Safest – Eeny Meeny Miny Moe…Where should all the car seats go?

Safety on the GO – Keeping our children safe by following these 4 simple steps.

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