Safety Seats for Your Toddler | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Car Seat Safety for Kids

Safety Seats for Your Toddler


When and how to use a forward-facing seat

While using any restraint is better than none, your young child can be badly injured in a crash if placed only in a seat belt rather than a child safety seat or belt-positioning booster seat.

Please follow these general car seat safety tips and guidelines:

Types of forward-facing child safety seats

Convertible safety seat

A convertible child safety seat can be used in both the rear-facing and forward-facing positions. Convertible car seats must remain rear-facing until your child is 2 years of age or until he reaches the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of his convertible safety seat.

When you switch a convertible safety seat from the rear-facing to the forward-facing position, it can be used for a toddler up to 40 to 65 pounds (some seats accommodate up to 80 pounds) depending on the seat model. Check your child safety seat manual or seat label for height and weight limits.

Combination child seat and belt-positioning booster seat

You can use this combination seat with the internal harness until your toddler weighs about 40 to 65 pounds, depending on the seat model. You can then remove the harness and convert the seat to a belt-positioning booster that works with the vehicle lap and shoulder belts. For the best protection, use a child safety seat with a full harness until your child has outgrown the weight and height limits before switching to a booster seat.

Travel vest

These vests can be worn by children between 20 and 168 pounds and offer an alternative to traditional forward-facing child safety seats. They are useful when a vehicle has lap-only seat belts in the rear seats, or for children whose weight has exceeded that allowed by the child safety seats. These vests may require use of a top tether.

Built-in child seat

Some vehicles have forward-facing child safety seats integrated into their rear seats. Many of these seats have a five-point harness system. Some built-in seats convert to belt-positioning booster seats for older children once the internal harness is completely outgrown. The height and weight limits vary by car model so be sure to check your car owner's manual for this information.

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.









  • Print
  • Share

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:

Order Educational Videos

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

Car Seat Checks

Need help installing your child safety seat? Find a free car seat check near you»

Child Safety Seat Checklist

Follow this easy-to-use car seat checklist»

Watch More on YouTube

Subscribe to the ChildPassengerSafety channel on YouTube.