What do I need to know about booster seats for my child?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
As an ER doctor, I’m often concerned by seeing people using child car seats inappropriately. Here are the latest guidelines.

You should keep your infant or toddler in a rear-facing seat until 2 years of age, or until he outgrows the height and weight limits for your particular seat (often around 40-50 pounds).

I know it may look like his or her legs are uncomfortable, but if your child is under the age or height/weight limit, leave them rear-facing. Studies have shown that children are at significantly greater risk of breaking their legs and other injuries when facing forward, even if their legs look cramped when facing the rear. 

Once your child reaches 2 years and the height/weight limit of the rear-facing chair, you can turn them to face forward.  Keep using the chair as long as allowed according to the seat manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the child outgrows that seat, he needs to have a booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits appropriately -- usually when the child is around 4’9’’ and 8-12 years old.

Also, all children under 13 must remain in the backseat, due to the risk of injury and death in smaller adolescents and children from airbags.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.