Federal Motor Vehicle Safety for Child Passengers
by Amanda Hamm
Child passenger laws vary from state to state, but federal guidelines recommend four steps (infant seat to seat belt) for keeping children safe in a motor vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued these guidelines.
An infant should be restrained in a rear-facing car seat until he or she is at least one year old or weighs at least 20 pounds.
At 20 pounds a toddler graduates to a forward-facing, five-point-harness car seat, in which he or she should remain until at least four years old or 40 pounds.
A belt-positioning booster seat should be used with your car's seat belt until your child is at least eight years old, 80 pounds, or 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
Once a child is old enough or big enough for the seat belt alone, the child should wear a seat belt every time the child rides in a vehicle. Also, it is recommended that children 12 or under not ride in the front seat of a car.
Age vs. Weight
Although most laws give both an age and a weight for a child to move to the next step, parents are encouraged to use the weight limit as a more accurate determiner of when the child is ready.