Babies Under Two

Car Seat Safety for Babies Under Two

As a parent you want to keep your baby safe. By using the right car seat the right way on every ride, you can help keep your baby safe on the way.

Top Tips

Keep your baby rear facing for as long as possible. The top tips to follow when using a rear-facing car seat are:

  • Add-on toys can injure your child in a crash.
  • Adjust the chest clip to armpit level.
  • Do not use any products that did not come from the manufacturer in or with the car seat. Car seat fabrics meet strict fire safety codes.
  • Every car seat has an expiration date. Generally, it is six years from manufacture. Many have the expiration date stamped on the seat.
  • Contact the manufacturer of your specific seat to find out what its expiration date is.
  • Find the frontal airbags in your vehicle by checking the owner’s manual. Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an active frontal airbag. Children are always safest in a back seat.
  • For the best possible protection, keep your baby in a rear-facing child safety seat in a back seat for as long as possible; up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. The "12 months and 20 pounds" rule that many parents cite when turning their child forward-facing in the car is actually the minimum size and age requirement for that change. New recommendations suggest that children remain rear-facing to age 2.
  • Have your car seat checked by a currently certified child passenger safety technician to make sure it is properly installed.
  • Keep a baby rear-facing in a convertible seat until he or she reaches the maximum height or weight allowed by the manufacturer. For many children that will be 30, 35, or even 40 pounds. Many kids will be over age 2 when they reach that weight. Rear-facing occupants are safest.
  • Make sure the buckled harness straps that keep your baby properly positioned and secured in the car seat fit snugly. Loose harness straps don’t provide maximum protection. Be sure the harness is tight enough that you cannot pinch webbing at the shoulder.
  • Never buy a used car seat if you do not know its full history. Never use a car seat that has been in a crash. Avoid seats sold at flea markets or yard sales or online.
  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle; not even for a minute.
  • Position the shoulder straps through the slots at or below your baby’s shoulders.
  • Use either the car’s seat belt or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system to lock the car seat into the car. Do not use both systems at the same time.
  • Use your baby’s car seat rear-facing and semi-reclined to no more than 45 degrees, so the baby’s head stays in contact with the seat and the baby’s airway stays open. Read the car seat instructions.
  • Your car seat should not move more than one inch side to side or front to back. Grab the car seat at the safety belt or LATCH path to test it.
Small Baby in Carseat