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Where We Stand: Car Seats For Children

All fifty states require that children ride in car seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges that all newborns discharged from hospitals be brought home in infant car seats. The AAP has established car seat guidelines for low–birth-weight infants, which include riding in a rear-facing seat and supporting the infant with ample padding around the sides, outside the harness system. A convertible car seat is recommended as a child gets older.

Infants and young children always should ride in car seats—preferably in the backseat—because it is safest. Never use a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with a passenger-side air bag. An infant or child should never ride in an adult's arms. Children age twelve and younger should ride in the rear seat.

Older children should use booster seats until the vehicle seat belt fits well. This means that the child can sit all the way back on the vehicle seat with knees bent at the edge, the shoulder belt crosses the middle of the chest, the lap belt lies low and snug across the thighs, and the child can sit this way for the entire ride.

Additional Information:

Last Updated
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 6th Edition (Copyright © 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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