Keep your child safe while you drive.

Car seat safety can reduce your child’s risk of injury in an accident by up to 82 percent.

“Many parents ask me questions about car seat safety, mostly about when children should progress from one type of seat to another,” says Kristine Williams, MD, MPH, pediatrician at University Pediatric Associates. “These guidelines will help parents know when it’s right to change car seats for their child.”

Rear-Facing Car seats:

  • Keep children in a rear-facing convertible car seat until they reach the maximum height or weight.
  • Install the car seat with the seat belt or the lower anchors.
  • Rear-facing car seats must be level.
  • The straps of a child’s car seat should be snug. If you can fit your finger under the strap at your child’s collar bone, the straps are correctly fitted.  
  • Harness straps should be at or below the shoulders.

Forward-facing Car seats:

  • Once children have hit the maximum height or weight of the rear-facing mode on their convertible car seat, they will move to a forward-facing mode, with a harness.
  • Harness straps and chest clips should be snug against your child’s chest. The harness straps should be at or above your child’s shoulders.

Booster car seats:

  • Booster seats can be used for kids who have outgrown the height or weight limits of their forward-facing car seat.
  • By the time your child is 4 feet 9 inches tall, they can transition from a booster seat to a seat belt.
  • Seat belts with no booster seat can typically be worn by kids by the time they are 10 to 12 years old.

No Matter What

“Don’t rush your child out of a car seat based on his or her age,” says Brittany Kaiser, CHES, public health educator at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “Many rear-facing car seats can keep 3-year-old and 4-year-old children safe in an accident. Weight and height limits of car seats are the more important measure for safety.”

“Don’t use car seats that have been in car accidents,” Dr. Williams adds. “And set a good example by wearing your own seatbelt.”

Call 314.565.0369 for an appointment with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Safety Stop, to check to see if your child’s car seat is correctly installed and answer questions you may have about car or home safety. Learn more about Safety Stop at