Your Infant – Newborn to Age 2 in Rear-facing Seats | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Car Seat Safety for Kids

Your Baby – Newborn to Age 2 in Rear-facing Seats

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Babies are at greater risk of injury in crashes. This is because babies' spines are developing and their heads are large for their bodies. In a crash, if your child is riding forward-facing, her spinal cord may stretch, which could result in serious injury or death. However, when your baby rides rear-facing in a child safety seat, her upper body — head, neck and spine — is cradled by the back of the child safety seat in the case of a frontal crash, which is the most common type of crash.

According to research studies, children up to 2 years of age who are placed in forward-facing child safety seats are significantly more likely to be seriously injured in a crash than same age children who are in rear-facing child safety seats.

Child safety seat tips for baby

The following are some important child safety seat tips for your baby:

Types of child safety seats

There are three types of child safety seats for babies:

Infant-only child safety seats

Infant-only safety seats are unique in that they are usually:

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Rear-facing convertible child safety seats

A convertible child safety seat can be used in both the rear-facing and forward-facing positions. Convertible child safety seats must be used in the rear-facing position — in the back seat of the car — until your child is 2 years of age or until he reaches the highest weight or height limit allowed by the manufacturer of his convertible safety seat. The seat can then be turned around to face forward for toddlers.

Some convertible child safety seats may not provide the best fit for smaller newborns, especially low-birthweight babies or preterm babies (those born too early). Learn about car beds — a safer alternative to standard car seats for smaller newborns.

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Child safety seat registration card

Don't forget to mail back the registration card. If you don't, you will not be notified if the child safety seat is recalled or has other safety problems.

If you moved since you mailed the card, make sure you call your child safety seat manufacturer to update your address.

If you misplaced the registration card that came with your car seat, please download and complete this form and mail or fax it as instructed.

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Four Key Safety Tips

  • Restrain your child on every trip, every time.
  • Keep your child in the back seat.
  • Use the best safety restraint for your child's size.
  • Use child safety seats and seat belts correctly.

Contact Us Online

For CPS questions, feedback or more information:

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Order our free DVD, "A Crash Course in Child Passenger Safety," with content available in both English and Spanish:

Car Seat Checks

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Child Safety Seat Checklist

Follow this easy-to-use car seat checklist»

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