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While using any restraint is better than none, young children 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. Watch the following video for tips on when and how to use a forward-facing child safety seat, and which one is appropriate for your toddler.
View this video with a transcript
Please follow these general car seat safety tips and guidelines:
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.
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.
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.
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.
A wide variety of car safety products, including convertible and booster seats, are sold at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Safety Center. For more information about specific car seat models currently available, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website.
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.