Best Cheap Convertible Car Seats Compared and Rated

Best Cheap Convertible car seat

There are are people that spend hundreds of dollars on getting the classiest and most expensive child safety seats while for you a functional car seat is all you need.

Maybe you have a small budget, or just need a spare seat just in case the other one breaks down, then a cheap car seat will just do the trick.

Even as the more expensive options are more groovy or have more bells and whistles such as more buckles,padding, and height and weight adjustments.

You need to remember that all Child seats approved by the NHTSA have gone through the same rigorous testing standards and passed at least the basics in terms of safety for use with your children.

cheap car seat

Best Cheap Car Seat: Evenflo Maestro Booster

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat

Evenflo Maestro Booster

Evenflo Maestro Booster is the best inexpensive car seat. It is small, lightweight, portable, is highly rated, comes with a machine washable cover and exceeds federal standards for safety

Top Cheap Car Seats Under $100

Rating

Image

Product

Our Rating

Weight

Price

1

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat

Evenflo Maestro Booster

11.02 Pounds

2

Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Tribute LX Neptune

12 Pounds

3

Disney APT Convertible Car Seat

Disney APT Mouseketeer

12 Pounds

4

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat

Graco SnugRide Click Connect

11 Pounds

5

Cosco Apt 50

Cosco Apt 50, Black Arrows

11 Pounds

Considerations When Buying an Inexpensive Child Seat

Even as most car seats have gone through the same vigorous standards of testing for safety, there are some few components of a safety seat that you have to take into account before you go ahead and buy any seat.

The following are the most important:

  • Comfort - This is a very important aspect of the car seat particularly if you intend to use the seat with children younger than eight. A good safety seat needs to have lush padding, basic adjustable height settings
  • Durability - A good seat even if cheap needs to be durable as the rule of thumb is the more durable the car seat the safer it is likely to be. Go for a child seat with higher manufacturer warranties
  • Safety - This is often the most important aspect of the car seat that you need to look for. Always go for a child seat with the highest safety ratings in its class
  • Cost - Given that you are buying a cheap car seat you need to find one that is most affordable that fulfills all the above prerequisites yet does not break the bank

Top Rated Budget Car Seats 2018 Reviews

Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat Review

Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
Upfront harness adjustment

Upfront Harness Adjustment

The Evenflo Tribute Lx is the best convertible car seat for you to buy at an affordable price.

Made by Evenflo the best company for baby products that has been known to make some of the safest child car seats for years, you can be confident that your kid will be safe despite the affordable prices you pay

The seat also comes with most of the bells and whistles found on higher priced safety seats such as the Britax Clicktight or the Chicco Keyfit

  • The Evenflo car seat comes with four shoulder strap positions and a 5 point harness system making it a safe bet if you are concerned about safety
  • The seat is compact and lightweight making it ideal for travel or if you move car seats from vehicle to vehicle often
  • Th seat has energy absorbent liners and foam making for a comfortable and safe ride for your child on those long journeys
  • Has a machine washable machine pad and metal and plastic parts that you could easily clean with soap and water for a clean car seat
  • The seat has met and exceeded Federal and Evenflo's in-house tests fro structural integrity and safety
  • The material is not the best in hot summer days as it could get really hot
  • It is not the easiest car seat to install or uninstall from the car even as it gives a tight fit once installed
  • The padding is not that lush and is uncomfortable particularly if you plan on using the safety seat on long rides

Disney APT Convertible Seat, Mouseketeer Review

Disney APT Convertible Car Seat, Mouseketeer Minnie
integrated cup holders

​The Disney APT Car seat is made for your very small newborn and comes with beautiful colors and great convenience and safety features

It is made for children between 19 and 43 inches in height and 5 and 40 pounds in weight​

  • With the Disney child seat you can be confident that you can have safety and convenience as the child can ride in rear facing up to 40 pounds or in the forward facing mode from 22 pounds
  • The premium headrest and fabric that comes in adorable colors offers utmost comfort for your child and allows them to ride in style
  • Comes with three buckle locations and a five point harness that can easily be adjusted from the front for easy installation and optimum safety
  • It has high ratings for side impact protection and comes with LATCH for installation making it a very safe car seat
  • It is a little on the bigger side and hence is not be the best child seat if you plan on using it with small vehicles

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat Review

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat

Evenflo Maestro Booster

Belt-Positiong Booster

Belt-Positiong Booster

The Evenflo Maestro Booster is the most popular inexpensive car seat given its lightweight design and portability

​The seat also offers utmost convenience with its ergonomic shape making it a suitable fit for travel as the child can easily sleep in the car seat

  • The evenflo is always a safe bet as a car seat for your child given that it is designed manufactured and tested according to Federal standards in the US
  • The evenflo is a very lightweight and compact safety seat making it easy to carry around airports and install on airplanes for frequent travellers
  • You will not have to worry about installation with the evenflo as the seat comes with LATCH making for some of the easiest of installation procedures
  • The car seat comes with easy to clean metal and plastic parts and a machine washable cover ensuring that your vehicle remains clean and presentable particularly if you have toddler
  • The plush head pillow, harness and buckle covers offer utmost comfort for your baby during your trip
  • Comes with simple harness adjustment and four shoulder strap positions making it convenient for the growing child's needs
  • It has some of the lowest height limits of similar child safety seats in its class
  • It can be particularly a pain to install the car seat with seat belts though I generally recommend that you use LATCH which is safer.
  • Not the best seat in rear facing if you have a small car
Evenflo Maestro Booster Thunder

Graco SnugRide Click Connect Infant Seat Review

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35

Excellent with Graco Stroller

Excellent with Graco Stroller

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 is the most versatile of cheap car seats with a range of safety and convenience features making it a great choice at a great price

It will generally fit children in the rear facing mode between 4 and 30 pounds and with its lightweight and plethora of convenience features, it is the best infant car seat you could buy at a great price

  • The Graco Snugride is an ultra lightweight child seat that offers the ultimate convenience as it is easy to transport from the vehicle to the stroller
  • Given its small size, this is the seat that you can use in small cars as you can easily fit three infant car seats in the back seat
  • The Graco infant seat provides you with a dearth of features for the safety and comfort of the child such as rotating canopy and plush head supports
  • These car seats provide great safety having been tested and exceeded vigorous federal safety standards 
  • The affordable child safety seat is the easiest to install with the Click Connect and LATCH system ensuring a safe and comfortable installation all the time
  • The car seat does not come with strap covers and hence you have to buy some covers to protect the child from chaffing 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect Infant Car Seat Installation Video

Cosco Apt 50, Realtree Review

Cosco Apt 50, Realtree
integrated cup holders

The Cosco APT 50 is a great car seat with a lot of the convenience and safety features that are to be found in higher priced child seat.

  • Allows for extended rear facing car seat use from 5 to 40 pounds ensuring your child is safer
  • If you have toddlers or are simply messy, the seat comes with machine washable covers to make it easy to clean
  • Comes with three buckle locations and six harness heights that make the car seat suitable for the needs of your growing child
  • With its lightweight and compact design and its FAA approved status this is the best seats if you travel a lot.
  • Comes with two cup holders so that you can pack in all the drinks that your child needs during the trip.
  • Does not have plush padding and hence may only be good for short trips. 

Best Cheap Car Seat: Evenflo Maestro Booster

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat

Evenflo Maestro Booster

Evenflo Maestro Booster is the best inexpensive car seat. It is small, lightweight, portable, is highly rated, comes with a machine washable cover and exceeds federal standards for safety

Car Seat Installation: Where Should You Install A Convertible Car Seat

child car seat installation

While you may read on top rated convertible car seats, all in one convertible car seats or FAA approved car seats, it will come to nought if you get car seat positioning wrong.

As a new parent, your life will change completely the moment your child comes into the family.

Alongside the happiness and joy that your little bundle of joy will bring are the multitude of challenges pressures and hassles of raising a child while keeping them safe.

You will have to be not only vigilant in dealing with challenges on the fly, but also have to read up on how to keep your child secure and safe.

Convertible Car Seat Position

One of the safety areas that you will have to take into consideration is to ensure that the position of the child safety seat follows recommended safety and security standards.

It is critical to ensure that you choose you choose the right spot to install the car seat.

The positioning of the car seat is usually challenging for new parents since most installation guides do not tell parents where to install the car seat.

Most guides will only assert that the seat ought to be installed in a rear facing position.

This guide is aimed at bridging this gap by offering guidance on where to position the baby car seat.

It offers information I have collected from experts on convertible car seat safety that will help you install the seat in the safest and most secure position.

Additionally it will offer tricks and tips on how to safely the seat in position that will ensure that your child is strapped in safely allowing you peace of mind while traveling.

The Challenge of Getting a Car Seat Position Right

Since almost all vehicles will be manufactured differently, it becomes a challenge to position the car seat in such a way as to take advantage of the inbuilt safety positions of each car.

Some vehicles will have the bare minimum of safety features while some will include extra depending on the purpose of the vehicle.

As such even if you purchase best rated convertible car seats it is important to perform safety checks before installation.

It is important to take into account the various car features and variables when setting up the infant car seat in the automobile .

It is critical to read up on the safety features of the vehicle and of the car seat including manuals before installation in order to ensure optimum safety for the child.

Aspects to Take Into Consideration When Positioning

Note that it is always safer for your child seat to be positioned in the rear seats rather than the front seat.

car seat installation

Many parents find it hard to put their infants in the back seat as they believe that they can keep a better eye on the child if the infant car seat is in the front.

However, the back seat offers greater security and safety that being in the front seat does not. Unless there is no other option, having your child ride in the front passenger seat is unwise.

Secondly, you ought to make sure that the child never rides in a rear facing seat if the seat upon which it is strapped has an active airbag.

Putting your child in such a space endangers your child in a crash.

A deployment of the airbag will forcefully propel the seat forward and cause trauma to the child when this could be easily avoided by correct positioning.

The best position for the infant car seat is in almost all instances the rear seat particularly in the middle of the seat. Such positioning allows for the efficient use of clasps and the dual seat belt buckle for strapping in the car seat securely.

This positioning also ensures that the child is farthest from the sides of the vehicle.

Being so far from the sides of the vehicle means that in the instance of a crash there will be enough space for the seat to stop or slow down thus reducing the probability of impact force on the child.

Furthermore, it is less likely that debris from a crash will reach the child that is trapped in the middle of the car.

In Closing

I do believe that you are better informed on the best positioning for your infant car seat.

Critically you know why it is important to place the child in the rear seat middle position of the car for greater safety during travel.

Do all in your power to keep your child secure and safe when you are traveling with them.

Most importantly, remember that the child will be more safe and protected if you purchase top rated convertible car seats, drive defensively, responsibly and always look out for their safety by checking out if they are securely strapped in.

Related Links

Best All in One Car Seat

Child Car Seat Guidelines By State 2019: Ultimate Guide for Child Passenger Safety law

Car seat Laws by state

Do Not Run Afoul of the Law

Different states have different laws and recommendations regarding the use of baby car seats in your car.

While, it is advisable that you follow the law so that you do not get into trouble with your state’s authorities, the recommendations provided by the regulations are not by any means best practice when it comes to child seat safety.

In addition to the legal requirements, I recommend that your child should always ride rear facing until they are two, forward facing with a harness until age 6 and a booster seat until they cross the weight limit.

Given that the legal regulations take a lot of time to be drawn out and implemented, I always advise that you follow the recommendations of the National Highway Transport Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics that are most updated.

You can also follow our ultimate guide on best practice on the installation and use of a car seat to ensure that your child is riding safely and according to your state’s laws.

Most states require that you use the car sear seat according to the guidelines given by the manufacturer in what is typically referred to as the :proper use” clause.

All the territories and states require that children fitting certain criteria including weight, height, and age ride in certain car seats.

Most follow the typical stages of older children in the boosters, toddlers in the forward facing seats, and infants in infant seats or convertibles.

Most laws require that your child rides in the rear seat if possible, and most will also allow children of a certain weight, height or age to use seat belts.

State Law Exceptions

  1. 5 states (New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Florida and California) have seat belt requirements that school buses are required to adhere to. All buses purchased after 2010 have to adhere to the same requirements in Texas.
  2. 4 states (Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California) require that if your child is less than two years old, they have to ride in a rear facing car child seat.
  3. 48 states Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia require that you use booster seats or harnesses if your child has outgrown baby seat but are still too small to safely ride in a car using an adult seat belt.
  4. South Dakota and Florida lack booster seat laws.

Non compliance with your state’s child passenger safety law can result in fines ranging from $10 to $500. Some states could also dock points on your license if you run afoul of the regulations.

 

State Child Seat Safety Laws

ALABAMA

Alabama car seat law

Children ages 6 until 15 are required to wear a seat belt in all seats.

Booster seats or child safety seats are required until age 6.

Children must be in the best front facing seats or convertible seats until age 5 or 40 lbs. Infant seats and convertible seats are required to be rear-facing until passenger is at least 1 year old or 20 lbs. in weight.

All child restraint laws are standard enforcement.


ALASKA

Alaska car seat laws

Children between age 8 and 16 who are less than 57 inches in height and under 65 lbs. shall be restrained in a child safety device or seat belt as determined by the driver.

Children over 4, taller than 57 inches, and weighing more than 65 lbs. shall be restrained in a seat belt.

Children between 4 and 8 years old, less than 57 inches in height, and weighing 20 to 65 lbs. must be secured in a booster seat or child safety seat.

Children between 1 and 5 years old and weighing 20 lbs. or more must be secured in a child restraint device.

Children less than one year of age or weighing less than 20 lbs. must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat.

Violation of the child passenger safety law is a standard offense.


ARIZONA

Arizona Car Seat Laws

Children under 16 are required to be properly restrained in all seats.

Children who are age 5 to 8 and 57 inches or less in height must use a booster seat.

Child restraints are required for children under age 5.

Violation of the child restraint law is a primary offense.


ARKANSAS

Arkansas car seat laws

Children ages 6 until 15 or at least 60 lbs. are required to be restrained in a seat belt.

Child restraints are required for children under age 6 and under 60 lbs.

All occupants must wear a seat belt when the vehicle is being operated by a driver with an intermediate license.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


CALIFORNIA

California car seat laws

Children under age 8 and under 57” must be properly secured in a child restraint system.  All other children age 8 to 16 or over 57″ must be secured in a properly fitted seat belt. Effective January 1, 2017, children under age 2, and under 40 lbs. or under 40”, must be properly secured in a rear-facing car seat.

Children under age 8 must be restrained in a child passenger restraint system in the rear seat.

California law specifically requires children to be properly restrained, meaning the lap belt is low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt is crossing the center of the chest.

Children in rear-facing car seats may not ride in front if there is an active passenger air bag.

Violation of the child passenger safety law is a standard offense.


COLORADO

Colorado car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 16 must wear seat belts.

Children under age 8 must use a forward facing car seat or booster seat

Children under age 4 and less than 40 lbs., shall be properly restrained in a child restraint system.

Children under age 1 and under 20 lbs. shall use a rear-facing child restraint system.

Violation of the booster seat and the child restraint law are standard offenses.


CONNECTICUT

Connecticut car seat laws

Children over 7 years of age who weigh more than 60 lbs. must be in a seat belt.

Children under age 7 and less than 60 lbs. are required to use a child restraint. Children who ride in a booster seat must use a lap and shoulder belt.

Children under age 1 and under 20 lbs. are required to be in a rear-facing child restraint.

Children riding in a vehicle without lap and shoulder belts are exempt from complying with the booster seat requirement.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


DELAWARE

Delaware car seat laws

No child who is 65 inches or under in height or who is under age 12 shall occupy the front passenger seat of any vehicle equipped with a passenger-side airbag that has not been deliberately rendered inoperable.

Children under age 8 and under 66 lbs. must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards appropriate for the child’s weight and height.

Violations of the child restraint laws are standard offenses.

The maximum fine for the first offense for a violation of the child restraint law is $25.


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

District of Columbia car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 16 are required to be restrained in a child restraint or seat belt.

Children under age 8 are required to be restrained in a child restraint.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


FLORIDA

Florida car seat laws

Children ages 6 until 18 must be restrained in a child restraint or seat belt.

Children under age 6 are required to use a child restraint.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense that could result in a fine of $60 and 3 points docked off your license.

The Florida car seat laws require you to use a rear facing car seat from birth until the child attains the weight or height limits set forth by the manufacturer (in most instances 35 pounds) or until the child is at least two years old.

You should have your child in a forward facing car seat that comes with a harness until they attain the weight and height limit recommended by the Manufacturer (usually between 40 and 65 pounds).

Use a belt positioning booster seat for the child between 8 and 12 years of age or until the child is at least 4 feet 9.

Children aged 13 and above can safely sit in the car’s front seat though its recommended they seat in th

 


GEORGIA

Georgia car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 18 and over 4 feet 9 inches are required to be in a seat belt in all seats.

e back until they outgrow the lap and shoulder belts of the booster seat. If they are still small and thin, have them sit in the back for as long as possible.

Children under age 8 and under 4 feet 9 inches are required to be in a child restraint installed and being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions, if available, in the rear seat.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


HAWAII

Hawaai car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 17 are required to wear a seat belt in all seats. Children ages 4 until 8 must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are over 4 feet 9 inches or weigh more than 40 lbs.

Children under age 4 must be restrained in a child passenger restraint system.

Children over 40 lbs. may be belted without a booster seat if they are seated in the rear seat of a vehicle equipped with only a lap belt.

Violations of the child restraint laws are standard offenses.


IDAHO

Idaho car seat laws

Children under age 7 are required to be in a child safety restraint.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


ILLINOIS

Illinois car seat laws

Children under age 8 are required to be properly secured in a child restraint system.

Children over 40 lbs. may be transported in the back seat of a vehicle with only a lap belt if the back seat is not equipped with a lap and shoulder belt.

Violations of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


INDIANA

Indiana car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 16 are required to be in either a seat belt or a child restraint.

Indiana law states that children under age 8 must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or a booster seat.

Children over 40 lbs. may be transported in the back seat of a vehicle with only a lap belt if the back seat is not equipped with a lap and shoulder belt.

Violations of the child restraint laws are standard offenses.

Vehicles participating in a funeral procession are exempt from complying with child restraint laws.


IOWA

Iowa car seat laws

Children ages 6 until 18 must be restrained in either a seat belt or child restraint system.

Children under age 6 must be restrained in a child restraint.

Infants under age 1 and under 20 lbs. must be restrained in a rear-facing safety seat.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


KANSAS

Kansas car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 18, over 80 lbs., or over 4 feet 9 inches must properly wear a seat belt.

Children under age 4 until 8 who weigh less than 80 lbs. or are less than 4 feet 9 inches are required to be properly restrained in a child passenger safety restraint system or booster seat.

Children under age 4 are required to be in a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraints laws are standard offenses.


KENTUCKY

Kentucky car seat laws

Children under 7 years old and between 40 and 50 inches in height (effective June 22, 2015, under 8 years old and between 40 and 57 inches) must be secured using a booster seat

Children 40 inches or less must be properly secured in a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


LOUISIANA

Louisiana car seat laws

Children ages 6 until 13 or more than 60 lbs. must be restrained in either a booster seat or a seat belt regardless of seating position. When the passenger side front airbag is active, children younger than age 6 or less than 60 lbs. must be in the rear seat, if available.

Children 4 and 5 years of age or 40-60 lbs. must be restrained in a booster seat.

Children ages 1 until 4 or 20-40 lbs. must be restrained in a forward-facing child safety seat. Children under age 1 year or less than 20 lbs. must be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat.

Children who because of age and weight can be placed in more than one category shall be placed in the more protective restraint.

Violations of the child restraint laws are standard offenses.


MAINE

Maine car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 18 and more than 4 feet 9 inches tall must be properly secured in a seat belt.

Children under age 12 and under 100 lbs. must be in the rear seat of a vehicle, if possible.

Children who weigh 40-80 lbs. and are under age 8 must be properly secured in a booster seat or child safety seat.

Children under 40 lbs. must be properly secured in a child safety seat that meets federal standards and properly secured in accordance with the manufacturer’s instruction.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


MARYLAND

Maryland car seat laws

Children under age 16 must be restrained in a seat belt or a child safety seat.

All children under age 8 must be secured in a child safety seat unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches or taller.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts car seat laws

Children age 8 through age 12 shall use an appropriate child restraint or wear a safety belt that is properly adjusted and fastened.

Children under age 8 and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall shall be properly fastened and secured by a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


MICHIGAN

Michigan car seat laws

Children under age 16 must wear a seat belt or be in an approved restraint system regardless of where they sit in the vehicle.

Children under age 8 and less than 4 feet 9 inches shall be properly secured in a booster seat or child restraint system.

Children under age 4 must be properly secured in a child restraint system in the rear seat, if possible.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


MINNESOTA

Minnesota car seat laws

Booster seat laws in Minnesota state that children under age 8 and under 4 feet 9 inches are required to be in a booster seat.

Violations of the child restraint laws are standard offenses.


MISSISSIPPI

Missouri car seat laws

Children age 4 through 6 who are less than 4 feet 9 inches tall and weigh less than 65 pounds are required to be secured in a booster seat.

Children under age 4 shall be properly restrained in a child passenger restraint device.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


MISSOURI

Missouri car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 16 who weigh at least 80 lbs. or are taller than 4 feet 9 inches must use a seat belt or appropriate booster seat.

Children ages 4 until 8 must ride in a booster seat or appropriate child restraint system, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches or weigh more than 80 lbs.

Children less than age 4 or less than 40 lbs. must be secured in a child passenger restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


MONTANA

Montana car seat laws

Children under age 6 and weighing less than 60 lbs. must be properly restrained in a child restraint device, appropriate for the height and weight of the child as indicated by manufacturer standards.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense, though a violation of the booster seat law is a secondary offense.


NEBRASKA

Nebraska car seat laws

Children ages 6 until 18 are required to ride secured in an occupant protection system in all seating positions.

Children under age 6 are required to be in a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a primary offense.


NEVADA

Nevada car seat laws

Children under age 6 and who weigh less than 60 lbs. must be secured in a child passenger restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


NEW HAMPSHIRE

New Hampshire car seat laws

Seat belts are required for all passengers under age 18.

Children  under age 7 and under 57 inches must be properly fastened and secured by a child passenger restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


NEW JERSEY

New Jersey Car seat laws

Children under age 8 and weighing less than 80 lbs. must be in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat in the rear seat, if possible.

Effective September 1, children under 2 and weighing less than 30 pounds must be in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system. Children under 4 and weighing less than 40 pounds must be in either a rear- or rear-seat forward-facing child passenger restraint system. Children under 8 and under 57 inches must be in a forward facing child passenger restraint system or rear-seat booster seat.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


NEW MEXICO

New Mexico car seat laws

Children under 18 must be properly restrained in a child restraint device or a seat belt.

Children ages 5 and 6 or less than 60 lbs. must be restrained in a booster seat or appropriate child safety seat.

Children ages 1 through 4 or weighing less than 40 lbs. must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint device.

Children under 1 year old must be placed in a rear-facing child safety seat in the rear seat, if it is available.

Violations of the child restraint law are standard offenses.


NEW YORK

New York car seat laws

All children ages 8 to 16 must wear a seat belt in all seats.

All children ages 4 until 8, or under 4 and over 40 lbs., must be restrained in a booster seat.

Children under age 4 and under 40 lbs. must be restrained in a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 16 must be secured in either a child passenger restraint system or a seat belt.

Children under age 8 and less than 80 lbs. must be secured in a child passenger restraint system. If the vehicle has a passenger-side air bag and a rear seat, the child must be secured in a rear seat unless the restraint system is designed for use with air bags.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense, but secondary for rear seat occupants age 16 and older.


NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota car seat laws

Children ages 7 until 18 must be in an approved child restraint system or in a seat belt.

Children under age 7 and less than 4 feet 9 inches and 80 lbs. must be properly secured in a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


OHIO

Ohio car seat laws

According to Ohio Car seat laws, any of your children under 40 pounds or below the age of 4 needs to ride in a child safety seat that adheres to federal child safety standards.

The federal guidelines are usually according to the size and age of your baby. For instance, Ohio car seat regulations assert that a child needs to be in the rear facing car seat from their first year and stay there for as long as possible, preferably up to the age of 3.

Children ages 8 until 15 are required to be in either a seat belt or a booster seat.

Booster seat requirements in Ohio state that children age 4 -8 and under 4 feet 9 inches must be seated in a booster seat.

Children under age 4 and weighing less than 40 lbs. must be secured in a child restraint system when being transported in a motor vehicle.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense for children under age 4 and may result in a fine ranging from between $25 to $75.


OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma car seat laws

Children at least age 8 or over 4 feet 9 inches in height must be properly restrained in a seat belt regardless of seating position.

Children age 4 to 8 and under 4 feet 9 inches in height must be properly restrained in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat.

Children under age 4 must be properly restrained in a child passenger restraint system.  The restraint system shall be rear-facing until age 2 or the child reaches the height or weight limit of the system.

Children weighing more than 40 lbs. may be transported in the back seat of the motor vehicle while wearing only a lap belt, if the back seat of the motor vehicle is not equipped with a combination lap and shoulder belt.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.

 


OREGON

Oregon car seat laws

Children under 8 weighing more than 40 lbs. and who are 4 feet 9 inches or shorter, must ride in a child safety system which elevates them (i.e. booster seat) so the lap and shoulder belt fit them properly.

Child passengers who weigh 40 lbs. or less must be properly secured in a child safety system.

Child passengers under 1 year of age, regardless of weight, or children who weigh 20 lbs. or less, must be properly secured in a child safety system in a rear-facing position.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 18 must be restrained in all seating positions in a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system.

Children ages 4 until 8 must be securely fastened in a booster seat.

Children under age 4 must be securely fastened in a child passenger restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island Car seat laws

Children age 8 until 18, or less than 8 and who are more than 57 inches or weighing more than 80 lbs. are required to be in a seat belt.

All children under age 8 shall be properly restrained in the rear seat of the vehicle.

Children under age 8, less than 57 inches, and less than 80 lbs. must be transported in the rear seat and properly restrained in a child restraint system.

A violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


SOUTH CAROLINA

South carolina car seat laws

Children ages 1 until 6 and weighing more than 80 lbs. must be restrained in a seat belt. A child under 6 years who can sit with his or her knees bent over the vehicle seat edge when sitting up straight with his or her back firmly against the seat may wear a seat belt.

Children ages 1 until 6 and weighing 40 to 80 lbs. must be properly restrained in a booster seat.

Children ages 1 until 6 and weighing 20 to 40 lbs. must be properly restrained in a child seat.

Children under age 6 must ride in the rear seat of the vehicle. This does not apply if all rear seats are taken by children under 6.

Children under age 1 or under 20 lbs. must be properly restrained in a rear-facing child seat.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota car seat laws

Children under age 18 must wear a seat belt.

Children under age 5 and weighing less than 40 lbs. must be properly restrained in a child restraint system.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


TENNESSEE

Tennessee car seat laws

Children ages 9 until 16 must be properly restrained in a seat belt.

Children under age 9 are required to be seated in the rear seat of the vehicle, if available and children ages 9 until 13 are encouraged to be seated in the rear seat of the vehicle, if available.

Children ages 4 until 9 and less than 4 feet 9 inches must be properly restrained in a booster seat.

Children ages 1 until 4 weighing more than 20 lbs. must be properly restrained in a child seat.

Children less than 1 year, or children under 20 lbs., must be properly restrained in a rear-facing child seat.

Violation of the child restraint laws is a standard offense.


TEXAS

Texas car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 17 or at least 57 inches must be secured by a safety belt provided that the child is occupying a seat equipped with a safety belt.

Children under age 8 and less than 57 inches must be secured in a child passenger safety seat system in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


UTAH

Utah car seat laws

Children under age 8 are required to use a child restraint system unless the child is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


VERMONT

Vermont car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 18 must be restrained in a child safety seat or seat belt.

Children age 1 year or older or until age 8 and more than 20 lbs. must be properly restrained in a federally approved child passenger restraint system.

Children age 1 and under and less than 20 lbs. must be restrained in a rear-facing infant seat.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


VIRGINIA

Virginia car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 18 must be secured in a child restraint, booster seat, or safety belt regardless of seating position.

Children under age 8 must be secured in a child restraint or booster seat, as appropriate.

Children under 1 year must be restrained in a rear-facing infant seat.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


WASHINGTON

Washington car seat laws

Washington’s Child Passenger Restraint Law requires that

You keep toddlers and infants in rear facing car seats until the height and weight limit recommended by the manufacturer or until they are at least two years old.

All children aged two or older or even if younger and have outgrown the limits of the rear facing car seat need to shift to a forward facing car seat combined with harness for an extended period or until the maximum height and weight recommended by the car seat manufacturer.

When your child has outgrown the forward facing car seat, you need to use a belt positioning booster until the recommended age to use lap belts which is when they are between 8 to 12 years of age or when they are at least  4 foot 9 inches tall.

Seat belts or appropriate child safety seats are required for children under age 16.

Children under age 13 must be in the rear seat where it is practical to do so.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


WEST VIRGINIA

West Virginia car seat laws

Children ages 8 until 18 must be in a seat belt in all seats.

Children under age 8 must be restrained in a child passenger safety device.

Children under age 8 and at least 4 feet 9 inches may be in a safety belt in all seats.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


WISCONSIN

Wisconsin car seat laws

Children must ride in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 1 and at least 20 lbs.

Then they must ride in a forward-facing child seat until age 4 or they weigh more than 40 lbs. Children under age 4 must be properly secured in a child restraint system in the rear seat, if possible. They must then ride in a booster seat until they turn 8, weigh more than 80 lbs., or are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


WYOMING

Wyoming car seat laws

Children under age 9 must be secured in a child safety restraint system. The child must be restrained in the rear seat unless the vehicle has only 1 row of seats, then the child may be secured in a child safety restraint system in the front seat.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


PUERTO RICO

Puerto Rico car seat laws

Children under the age of 4 years traveling on public highways must be in protective car seat (exempts handicapped or incapacitated children).  Children age 4 until 9 or under 57 inches must be in a booster seat.  Children age 9 and older or over 57 inches must be using seat belt properly.  The driver is responsible for compliance with provision and subject to penalty for failure to comply.

Children under age 12 must be in the rear seat of a vehicle, if possible.

 

CANADA STATE LAWS

The following is a list of booster, infant and car seat laws for the 3 territories and 10 provinces of Canada. You need to note that most of the laws will usually call for a child older than 4 to ride in a booster seat while restrained by either five point harnesses or the car’s vehicle safety belt system. Nonetheless the requirements and ages will be different depending on your territory/province. You also need to remember that the requirements are not necessarily best practice. However, I always recommend that you adhere to the minimum requirements stipulated by your territory/province when traveling with your child. Canada Car booster booster seat law/requirements generally recommends that children should use booster seats until they are at least 57 inches (4 feet 9 inches) tall and weigh between 80 and 100 pounds, and pass the 5-step test. Most children will usually satisfy the test between the ages of 8 and 12. For more information regarding the requirements and laws on seat belt use in Canadian territories and Provinces check out Child Passenger Association of Canada.

ALBERTA

Alberta car seat laws

It is not permissible to operate a vehicle with a child passenger unless: (1) the motor vehicle is equipped with a child seating assembly; (2) the child seating assembly is properly installed; and (3) the child is occupying and properly secured in the child seating assembly.

It is not permissible to operate a motor vehicle on the highway with a passenger at least 6 years of age but under 16 years, or a child weighing more than 18 kg., occupying a seating position with a seat belt assembly unless the passenger is wearing the complete seat belt assembly.

A child from birth up to 9 kg. can be in either a rear-facing infant seat or a rear-facing convertible seat, used and installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

A child weighing 9 to 18 kg. must be in a child safety seat and be properly secured by using the vehicle seat belt and the child safety seat tether strap.

When a child is over 18 kg., an approved booster seat for the vehicle or the vehicle seat belt may be used.


BRITISH COLUMBIA

British Columbia car seatlaws

All infants must be properly secured in an approved rear-facing infant seat away from an active frontal airbag until they reach a weight of 9 kg and 1 year old.

All children weighting 9-18 kg must be secured in an approved child seat.

All children must be restrained in an age and weight appropriate child seat until 9 years of age, unless they have reached the height of 145 cm tall.


MANITOBA

Manitoba car seat laws

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle when a passenger at least 5 but not yet 18 years of age, or a passenger under the age of 5 that weighs over 23 kg, is not wearing a passenger restraint. When the passenger restraint consists of a separate pelvic and torso restraint, the driver and passengers may wear the pelvic restraint only.

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a passenger age 5 until 9 years of age or under 145 cm or under 36 kg who is not secured using a booster seat.

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a passenger under 5 years of age and under 23 kg who is not fastened in a child restraint device.


NEW BRUNSWICK

New Brunswick car seat laws

A person driving a motor vehicle on a highway with a passenger 9 – 16 years and more than 36 (79-80 lbs.) kg or more than 145 cm (4′ 9″) must ensure that the passenger: (1) is wearing the complete seat belt assembly in a properly adjusted and securely fastened manner, or (2) is occupying and properly secured in a child seating and restraint system.

A person driving a motor vehicle on a highway must ensure that passengers 18 kg (40 lbs.) or less occupy and are properly secured in an appropriate child seating and restraint system. Children who weigh 18-36 kg (40-80 lbs.) but under 9 years old or under 145 cm may be in a booster seat. Children who weigh less than 9 kg (20 lbs.) are required to be secured in either an infant carrier or convertible seat adjusted to the rear-facing position while riding in vehicles where there is an available seating position fitted with a seat belt.


NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

New Foundland and Labrador car seat laws

A child who weighs less than 9 kg must be secured in a rear-facing infant car seat.

A child who weighs 9 kg or more but less than 18 kg must be secured in a child car seat or an infant car sear as recommended by the manufacturer.

A child who is under age 8 and weighs more than 18 kg but less than 37 kg and is less than 145 cm in height must be secured in a booster seat and the vehicle’s complete seat belt assembly, or in a child car seat as recommended by the manufacturer.

These requirements do not apply if the driver holds a certified report by a qualified physician stating that the child cannot be placed in the restraint system because of medical reasons.

A child who is under age 16 must wear a properly secured and fastened seat belt regardless of seating position.


NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Northwest Territories car seat laws

All children weighing less than 18 kg are required to be in a child restraint system when in a motor vehicle. Children weighing less than 9 kg must be secured in a rearward facing child restraint system.


NOVA SCOTIA

Nova Scotia car seat laws

Children under 1 year of age and under 10 kg. (22 lbs.) must be in a rear-facing child safety seat. Children under 18 kg. (40 lbs.) must be in a child restraint system. Children over 40 lbs. but less than 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) or under 9 years old must be placed in a booster seat. Safety belts may be used at age 9 or above 145 cm.

A vehicle registered in a jurisdiction which does not require the use of a child restraint system for a toddler must secure the toddler in a lap belt, at a minimum if a lap belt is available to that child.


NUNAVUT

Nunavut car seat laws

No person shall operate, on a highway, a motor vehicle in which there is a passenger under 15 of the prescribed size or weight unless that passenger is properly secured in a prescribed child restraint system or seat belt.

A toddler between 9kg and 18kg shall be secured in a child restraint system

An infant under 9kg shall be secured in a rearward facing child restraint system


ONTARIO

Ontario car seat laws

Children under the age of 8 and who weigh less than 80lb (36 kg) or more or taller than 4 foot 9 (145 cm) need to be secured in a booster car seat or in an appropriate child safety seat. For any child that has exceeded these weight and height limits, the Ontario child booster seat laws do not apply and they may use car seat belts without any restriction.

Toddler weighing in at between 9 to 18 kg need to be secured in a forward facing car seat with a harness.

Infants weighing no more than 9 kg (20 lb) are to travel in rear facing convertible or infant car seats.

For persons not from Ontario, it is recommended to use child booster seats or convertibles that comply with your home province’s car seat laws.


PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Prince Edward Island car seat laws

Children under 10 years and under 145 cm (4 feet 7 inches) are required to be in a child safety seat.

Children under 10 kg (22 lbs.) must be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat. Children under 18 kg (40 lbs.) must ride in a forward-facing child safety seat. Children may ride in a booster seat if they are over 18 kg (40 lbs.), under 145 cm, and age 9 or less.


QUEBEC

Quebec car seat laws

Children whose seated height is less than 63 cm measured from the seat to the top of the head are required to be in a child restraint or booster seat.


SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan car seat laws

All passengers under age 16 must be properly restrained.

If the child passenger is under age 7, between 18 and 43 kg, and under 145 cm, that passenger shall be placed in a booster seat.  If the child passenger weighs less than 18 kg, that passenger must be placed in an age and weight appropriate child or infant restraint system. This child or infant restraint system must be properly adjusted and securely fastened in the manner recommended by the manufacturer.


YUKON

Yukon car seat laws

Children under 6 years of age and under 22 kg must be secured in a child restraint system. A child weighing less than 9 kg must be secured in an infant restraint system. A child weighing 9 to 22 kg must be secured in a child restraint system. Children weighing over 18 kg may use a booster seat. Children weighing over 22 kg may use a standard seat belt.

 

THE UK

UK car seat laws

Height-based car seats are known as ‘i-Size’ seats. They must be rear-facing until your child is over 15 months old. Your child can use a forward-facing car seat when they’re over 15 months old.

0kg to 9kgLie-flat or ‘lateral’ baby carrier, rear-facing baby carrier, or rear-facing baby seat using a harness
0kg to 13kgRear-facing baby carrier or rear-facing baby seat using a harness
9kg to 18kgRear- or forward-facing baby seat using a harness or safety shield
15kg to 36kgRear- or forward-facing child seat (high-backed booster seat or booster cushion) using a seat belt, harness or safety shield

 

AUSTRALIA

Australian car seat laws

  • Children up to the age of six months must be secured in an approved rearward facing restraint
  • Children aged from six months old but under four years old must be secured in either a rear or forward facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness
  • Children under four years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows
  • Children aged from four years old but under seven years old must be secured in a forward facing approved child restraint with an inbuilt harness or an approved booster seat
  • Children aged from four years old but under seven years old cannot travel in the front seat of a vehicle with two or more rows, unless all other back seats are occupied by children younger than seven years in an approved child restraint or booster seat
  • Children aged from seven years old but under 16 years old who are too small to be restrained by a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened are strongly recommended to use an approved booster seat
  • Children in booster seats must be restrained by a suitable lap and sash type approved seatbelt that is properly adjusted and fastened, or by a suitable approved child safety harness that is properly adjusted and fastened.

Britax Advocate Clicktight Vs Boulevard Clicktight Vs Marathon Clicktight

britax car seat

Child in a Britax Car Seat

The Britax Clicktight series of convertible car seats is the most popular out there.

The Britax has built a reputation for having great ease of installation and good reputation for safety by performing well in a variety of crash tests.

If you are like many parents wishing to buy a Britax car seat, you have probably found that there are three types of Britax Clicktight car seats: the Advocate Clicktight, the Boulevard Clicktight and the Marathon Clicktight.

So what are the similarities and differences of these seats and which one should you buy?

The ClicktightInstallatiomn  system is the one thing that is common among all the car seats even though they all have some features in common and also some differences.

Similarities Between the Britax Car Seats

  • Safecell Impact Protection for your child
  • Clicktight Installation system for ease of installation
  • Safecell Impact absorbing bases that absorb any energy on impact in addition to reducing any forward movement in the instance of a crash
  • Safecell Complete Side Impact Protection to protect the child from any debris from the side during impact
  • Safecell Impact Absorbing Tether that comes with an innovative two strap design reduces forward movement and minimizes side to side movement of the seat in a collision
  • Safecell Impact Stabilizing Steel Frame makes the car seat stronger thus reducing forward flexand offering more strength to the car seat's spine
  • Quick Adjust 2 position buckle and harness makes it easy to move the harness and adjust it to fit the needs of your growing baby
  • Safecell Impact Absorbing Harness ensures that the chest clip on the child safety seat is correctly positioned so as to absorb maximum energy of the impact in the instance of a crash
  • All car seats come with plush foam padding, removable pillow, shoulder pads, and buckle pads for ultimate comfort for the child. 
  • Come with a 7 position Recline with Automatic Level to ensure that your installation is as safe and comfortable as possible for your child
  • All the best carseats for airplanes travel car seats are FAA certified car seats  
britax clicktight installation system
impact stabilizing steel frame
quick adjust 14 position harness
complete side impact protection
impact absorbing tether
automatic level indicator
impact absorbing base
impact absorbing harness
7-position incline

Most parents prefer the Britax USA Marathon Clicktight most probably because it comes at a better price than either the Boulevard or the bulkier Advocate Clicktight

As for the weight limitations, all the car seats come with the same specifications as you can carry children in the forward facing position from 20-65 pounds and in the rear facing from between 5-40 pounds.

However, the Advocate is a little bit different from the Britax Clicktight Boulevard given that it provides two more inches in height.

Britax Marathon Clicktight Convertible car seat

Britax Marathon Clicktight

The Britax Marathon offers the least in terms of features given that it lacks the click safe function which is a strap tightening mechanism that emits a small click to inform you that the tight is installed at the proper tightness. 

Nonetheless, the click safe function is not that important as it has been known to provide false positive when the child is wearing bulky clothes or if the straps get caught on the seat.

Britax advocate clicktight convertible car seat

Britax Boulevard Clicktight

The Britax Clicktight Boulevard is better than the Marathon in that it provides Secondary Side Impact Protection (SSIP)​. 

However the Marathon lacks the extra two inches of height since its secondary side impact protection is provided by the little pillow wings on the side.

The Boulevard is a little safer given its side impact protection can be easily adjusted with the lowering and adjusting of the shoulder straps for a more snug and robust fit. 

britax advocate clicktight convertible car seat

Britax Advocate Clicktight

As for the difference between the Britax Advocate Clicktight and the Boulevard, the Advocate adds a little bit more protection through the addition of side impact plastic on the car seat's side to provide a third layer of protection in addition to the wings.

However you need to remember that the layer of plastic gives the Advocate a bigger footprint, which would make the car seat a poor fit for small cars.

For travel with small cars the Marathon and the Boulevard which are small convertible car seats are your best bet.

Check out a full review of the Britax Marathon here and a full review of the Britax Advocate Clicktight here.​

The Picture Guide To Car Seat Safety [Tips and Tricks]

I’ve written a ton about car seat safety. Many people do. You often hear statements like this device is the only device you absolutely have to buy for a baby or your child can die.

You can rig random things to function as child-proofing at home or pick up things from a garage sale, but when it comes to your car seat, it HAS to be new, it HAS to be good quality, it HAS to be the right seat for your child and you HAVE to use it right or your child can DIE.

I don’t know that I can make it any clearer than that.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I made my fair share of mistakes, and continued to make some for years, but kept improving.

I have no problems with people who intend to learn and do better as they know more. It’s admirable, and it’s the best anyone can ask for.

Whether or not you feel this post is helpful for you, please share it so that maybe it can get to people who can benefit, or more, whose children will benefit, possibly making the difference between life and death.

And without further ado, here’s my picture guide to best convertible car seat safety, in DOs and DON’Ts.

Chest Clip: The name is self-explanatory, so I thought. It belongs between armpit and nipple level. Nowhere else, ever.

Risk: The clip on the belly can damage internal organs and doesn’t hold the straps properly over the chest as they’re designed to do, meaning your child could be ejected from their seat.

Aftermarket Products: Do not use anything on your seat that did not come with it.

Risk: Aside from voiding your warranty, all manufacturer liability and being denied a replacement seat in a crash, things added can damage the straps or interfere with function of the seat.

Harness Straps: Straps need to be about as tight as you can get them without hurting the child. Try The Pinch Test each time you buckle your kiddo in, just to be sure.

Risk: Loose straps do not hold the child in the seat. They can be partially ejected, which can damage any part of their body that is caught, or totally ejected and fly into the window, seats, another person or out of the car entirely. This is the most common mistake.

Harness Height: For rear-facing, the straps must be AT OR BELOW the shoulders. For forward-facing, AT OR ABOVE. You may put a popsicle stick or butter knife in the slot to test, since sometimes the covers can make it hard to tell where the slot is in the shell.

Risk: When rear-facing, any additional space above the shoulders works similarly to having a loose harness — it’s dangerous extra room.

Also, when hit head-on (as with 79%) of accidents, you want to prevent the child’s body from flying upwards against the back of the seat, but instead allow the seat to take the impact.

Only having the straps below the shoulders keeps the child safely in place.

Angle: The seat needs to be reclined between a 30-45 degree angle. Once children are older and have better neck control, they can be at up to a 30 degree angle.

When switching from an infant car seat to a convertible, this change in angle can allow a convertible to take up LESS room than the infant seat, debunking the “I can’t rear-face in my car” myth.

If you can fit an infant seat rear-facing, a convertible fits too.

Risk: Even with the safest convertible car seat, if it is too upright, the body can’t slide along at the intended angle, and in smaller babies without sufficient head control that results in the head dropping down onto the chest, this could restrict breathing.

Bulky Clothes : Children should be dressed in warm-but-thin clothing, then buckled in their seat, and then have warm layers placed on top of them. (See my video here.)

Risk: In an accident, all the air in bulky clothing compresses, like a “Space Saver” bag, leaving the harness incredibly loose and putting the child at risk to be ejected from the seat.

Rear-facing: Children should remain rear-facing in their car seat until they outgrow it by weight or height (less than an inch of headroom from the top of the shell).

Two years is the youngest any child should be forward-facing. Children bend their legs, even as they get older.

Risk: Babies and toddlers have weak spines that haven’t fused to protect the spinal cord, and they have proportionately huge heads, and when forward-facing, the weight of the large head pulls on the weak spine, and can separate the skull from the spine, possibly severing the spinal cord (internal decapitation), resulting in paralysis or death.

Also, the way the body slides when rear-facing helps the car and car seat absorb the maximum amount of centrifugal force so your baby’s body doesn’t have to — children are 75% less likely to die when rear-facing.

Everyone is, actually, but it’s just not possible for adults. As far as their legs? Not only would leg breaks be preferable to a broken neck, but forward-facing children are more likely to break their legs than rear-facing children.

Harnessing: Safe Kids and the American Academy of Pediatrics, amongst many car seat manufacturers, recommend you keep your child forward-facing in a 5-point harness until the limits of their seats.

In many newer seats, this ranges from 50-85 pounds. 4 years and 40 pounds is the bare minimum, but most children are not mature enough until they’re 5-7 years old.

Risk: A child who isn’t big enough for a booster can slide out under the belt, called “submarining”, can have the belt sit on their belly or neck and cause internal damage to the gut or the esophagus and trachea.

A child who will not sit upright, with the belt over their hip bones and over their collar bone, or tries to put their arm over the belt or the shoulder belt behind their back is not mature enough to sit in a booster.

A child who constantly falls asleep in the car should also be in a harness or they can be seriously injured in a crash.

There’s some debate that heavier (60-70 pound+) children may be safer in a seat belt, but currently the recommendation is still to wait until they outgrow their harness.

Booster Seats: Children need booster seats until they’re 8-12 years old, AND 4’9? and preferably also 80-100 pounds. Seat belts are designed to fit the average adult — not children of any age.

The strap cannot touch their necks and the lap belt should be across the hip bones, not the soft belly.

Risk: Children who are not large enough risk many things similar to putting a child in a booster too early — damage to their internal organs, throat and windpipe and the entire body in general.

Not to mention, children moved prematurely out of boosters are often quite uncomfortable!

Kids must meet the 5-Step-Test before they can go without a booster, something most children don’t meet until closer to 10-12.

Conclusion

There’s just so much to proper car seat use that I couldn’t possibly cover it here, and it’s OKAY if you’ve got something wrong. We all have screwed up at some point.

Everyone who helped me with pictures for this post was aware of what I was doing, and some of the “wrong” photos are staged — but some are not.

Some are from before moms learned and improved. It’s not a problem if you make mistakes… when it becomes a problem is when you’d rather be right than DO right, at the cost of your child’s life.