Auto collisions are the leading cause of death for children ages 4 to 12 and one of the leading causes of injury and disability. It is critical that you put small children and babies in car seats. Before you buy a car seat check to see if that product has been the subject of a recall. If you already have a car seat do the same. Click to see the Highway Safety Research Center current recall list. Currently, 80% of all child car seats are improperly installed. Read and refer to this checklist so you can learn how to purchase and install cars seats correctly. It just might save a life.

Here is a checklist from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) for anyone buying and installing car seats for their children.

  • Never place a child safety seat in the front seat where there is a passenger air bag.
  • Read the instructions that came with the car seat and also read the vehicle owner’s manual (the seatbelt and car seat installation section).

Infants: Birth to age 2, or until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat (which can be found on the back of the seat) should ride in the back seat in a rear-facing safety seat.

  • Harness straps should be at or below the infant’s shoulders.
  • The harness straps should be snug. This is you baby’s seatbelt, snug will keep the infant safe!
  • The harness chest clip must be at the infant’s armpit level. This clip will position the harness straps to stay over the baby’s shoulders, before a crash.
  • If your baby weighs more than 20 pounds before the first birthday, a convertible safety seat that goes to 30-35 pounds rear facing will be needed.
  • Riding backward is the safest thing for your child.

Toddlers: Children ages 1–2 should ride rear facing until they exceed the height or weight limit for the car seat, which can be found on the back of the seat. Children should ride in a safety seat with a full harness until they weigh about 40 pounds. This is the safest way for a child.

  • Harness straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders.
  • Harness straps should be threaded through the top slots of most safety seats. Check the instructions.
  • Harness straps must be snug.
  • Harness chest clip should be at the child’s armpit level. It positions the harness straps on the child’s shoulders, so in a crash the child stays in the safety seat.

Older Children: between 40 and 80 pounds should ride in the back seat in a belt-positioning booster seat. A booster seat uses the adult lap and shoulder belt. Booster seats should be used until the adult lap and shoulder belt fit the child properly.

  • Belt-positioning boosters can only be used with both lap and shoulder belts across the child. The shoulder belt should be snug against the child’s chest, crossing at the collarbone. The lap belt should lay low across the child’s upper thighs.
  • Boosters are used in that “between” stage of being too big for a “baby-seat” and not quite big enough for the adult seat belt.
  • Booster seats should be used until the child can sit with their back against the vehicle seat back cushion, knees bent over the seat cushion edge and their feet are on the floor (child must be approximately 4’9″ tall). Most children will need a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old.
  • Children should ride in the rear of a vehicle until they are 13 years old.

Here’s why keeping your child in a booster as long as possible is the safest option:

  • A booster seat raises the child to reposition the seat belt properly so that the lap belt lies snugly across the upper thighs rather than the stomach.
  • Children who ride in booster seats are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash than kids who are wearing seatbelts alone.
  • In case of a crash, a seatbelt can cause severe trauma to a child’s internal organs if the child isn’t seated in a booster.
  • Seat belts are designed for the average adult male. They do not properly fit a child who is under 4’9” tall.

Visit the new NHTSA car safety site, Parents Central (

21st Century Auto Insurance created an outstanding infographic for Child Car Seat Safety. It currently resides on the Parents Magazine site. Please click the “Child Car Seat Safety Infographic” tab at the top of the page. After you look at the infographic please return to the top of the page and click the “Child Car Seat Safety Video” tab to watch the outstanding video produced by Children’s Medical on Child Car Seat Safety.

The following Infographic was created by 21st Century Auto Insurance.


Please return to the top of the page and click the “Video” tab to watch Children’s Medical’s outstanding video on Child Car Seat Safety.

Watch this excellent Child Car Seat Safety video from Children’s Medical. Even though it was produced in 2008 it is still pertinent today.