The law has changed several times since I had Logan and Kira. Just recently I was speaking to a parent and she heard that children under 3 needed to be rear-facing. I didn’t know if that was true or not, so I decided to investigate.
According to CHP, here are the 4 steps:
- Rear-Facing Seats:
- Infant-only or rear-facing convertible seat
- New-born to at least 1 year of age and 20 pounds
- May stay rear-facing longer to maximum rear-facing weight limit of infant or convertible seat (see the insert on your child’s car seat for weight limits)
Safecar.gov suggests –> 1 – 3 Years — Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether.
- Forward-Facing Seats (with Harness):
- Convertible or combination seat
- Children should be at least 1 year of age and 20 pounds
- Children should remain in a 5-point harness until they reach the weight or height limit allowed (see the insert on your child’s car seat for weight and height limits)
- Both of my children are still in 5-point harness car seats. Logan is 7 years old and weighs 45.4 lbs. He sits in a Safety 1st Go Hybrid Booster (Safety 1st is no longer making this model, not sure why? I check to see if they had a recall, but didn’t find anything.). This car seat is safe for kids 22-65 lbs. Kira is 5 years old and weighs 38.6 lbs. She has a Radian XTsl convertible car seat. It states that the weight limit is 20-80 lbs for children in the forward-facing position.
- Booster Seats (high-back or backless):
- Children under 8 years of age or under 4’9″ in height
- High-back booster must be used when the vehicle does not have a head-rest or if the vehicle’s back seat is lower than the child’s ears
- Must be used with a lap and shoulder belts
- NEVER use with a lap belt only
- Recommended to use until child fits seat belt correctly as described below
- Seat Belt:
- Children 8 years of age or 4’9″ in height are permitted to use a seat belt, however, the seat belt must fit properly
- To confirm that the child fits properly, all of the following should occur:
- Child can sit with his/her back against the back of the seat
- Knees bend naturally over the edge of the vehicle seat
- Lap belt fits low and snug across the top of the thighs
- Shoulder strap crosses the collar bone and center of the chest
My children are very tiny, so they will be in car seats for a long time. Probably longer than recommended due to their height and weight. In 2 years when Logan turns 8, I highly doubt he will be tall enough to sit without a car seat/booster. As a parent, I need to explain why sitting in a booster is important to my children. Right now they know so many kids who are already sitting in boosters. They are unsure why they have to sit in a car seat with a buckle (5-point-harness) vs a booster seat. Yes, technically they both could be in booster seats, but I prefer them in the 5-point-harness. I always tell them that they are my precious cargo and their seats can save their lives. Remember, SAFETY FIRST! Your children depend on you to keep them safe.
Do your research and find a car seat that is the best fit for your child. I will be keeping my children in their current car seats until the outgrow the weight/height limit.
You can find more information at these sites: