How Long Does My Child Need a Car Seat?

father helping his daughter buckle the harness on a front-facing car seat

For families with young children or who are expecting, keeping your kids safe in any scenario is a top priority. When driving, knowing whether they will be safe in your vehicle is a valid concern, and using the right car seat can provide some much-needed protection and peace of mind. You may hear a lot of mixed information about which car seat is the best, but whichever one you choose, there are certain milestones for your child to hit before transitioning to just a seat belt.

Car Seat Milestones

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children should be in an appropriate safety restraint until they reach a specific size. Georgia law also states that children aged 8 and younger who are shorter than 57 inches must be in the back seat in a car or booster seat.

To reduce the risk of injury while driving or when involved in a crash, here are the specific types and sizes of car seats your child should be in, per NHTSA guidelines:

  • Rear-facing car seat: from birth to 3 years old, or until your child reaches the manufacturer's height and weight limit. Ideally, you should have your child rear-facing for as long as possible.
  • Front-facing car seat: starting at age 2 at the youngest until they are about 5 years old, or when they reach the maximum height and weight.
  • Booster seat: once the child has reached a specific height and weight, they should be in a booster seat with a seat belt until the seat belt can fit snugly across the chest and lap without the boost (usually ranging from age 4 to 12).
  • Seat belt only: when your child is at the size where a seat belt can fit across the chest, shoulder, and lap. Note: if the seat belt is on their neck or stomach, they should still be in a booster.

It’s important to remember that these guidelines are designed with the child’s utmost protection in mind and have proven to reduce the risk of fatality by 54% (ages 1 to 4) to 71% (infants under one year).

Jamie Casino Injury Attorneys encourages safe driving habits for all families. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash caused by another individual, we can help. Call (912) 809-5335 to schedule a free consultation.

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