4 Steps 4 Kids - The Right Seat Matters for Safety


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 8 out of every 10 child safety seats are not used correctly. Always read and follow your car owner's manual and the manufacturer's instructions for your child safety seat when using and installing your child safety seat.

All children should ride in the back seat until age 13.

Step 1: Rear-Facing Child Seats

Images of proper rear-facing, forward facing, booster seat and safety belt use

Use a rear-facing car seat until your child is two years old or reaches the highest weight or height limit allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat. A convertible or 3-in-1 car seat should be used in the rear-facing position for babies who outgrow infant only car seats.

Step 2: Forward-Facing Child Seats

Use a forward-facing car seat when your child is two years or older. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of the car seat.

Step 3: Booster Seats

Use a belt positioning booster seat when your child's weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for the car seat. Keep your child in a booster seat until the lap and shoulder belts fit properly, typically between 8 and 12 years old.

Step 4: Safety Belts

Use a lap and shoulder belt when the seat belts fit your child properly. The lap belt should be low and snug across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt should lie across the middle of the chest and shoulder. Children should be tall enough to comfortably bend their knees over the edge of the backseat with their back against the vehicle seat.

Other Safety Tips

  1. Restrain your child on every trip. Most crashes occur at low speeds and close to home.
  2. The best seat fits your child's size, is correctly installed and is used properly every time.
  3. Weigh and measure your child often to make sure the right type of restraint is being used.
  4. Set a good example for your child. Buckle up!

Need Help?

A certified child passenger safety technician can check your car seat and answer questions about child passenger safety. To find a car seat event and inspection station in your area, go to safeny.ny.gov/events.htm

For more information about child passenger safety:

For information about New York State's Occupant Restraint Law, go to safeny.ny.gov/media/belt-bro.htm