Traveling with a new baby can be nerve-wracking. However, you can be more confident in the car when you know your child’s car seat is safely installed.

“A properly installed car seat can definitely provide peace of mind to anyone traveling with children,” said Jenny Brooks, pediatric injury prevention coordinator at University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “Consult a local child passenger safety technician and have your seat checked if you are in doubt. CPSTs will teach you the best practices.” — an informational website backed by the American Association of Pediatrics — provides the following guidelines for keeping children safe in their car seats:

Age Group

Seat Type

General Guidelines

Infants & Toddlers

Rear-facing-only Rear-facing convertible

Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing seats until they are at least 2 or reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car-seat manufacturer.

Toddlers & Preschoolers

Convertible Forward-facing with harness

Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car-seat manufacturer.

School-aged children

Booster seats

All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seatbelt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age. All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

Older children

Seat belts

When children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seatbelt to fit them correctly, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.


For children of all ages, you should never use a car seat or restraint that:

Is too old (car seats have expiration dates) Has visible cracks in it Appears to be missing parts Has been involved in an accident Was recalled by the manufacturer Was purchased or borrowed secondhand (if you don’t know the car seat’s history)

Learn more

Child passenger safety technicians will be on-site at Safe Kids Day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 28, at Hearnes Center Fieldhouse. Safe Kids Day is a free, family-friendly event promoting health and safety in our community.