Infant and Child Car Seats
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Infant and Child Car Seats

Baby sleeping in a car seat
We often think that the safest place for our new baby is cradled in our arms. And being held is wonderful for babies, but not while riding in a car. In a car accident, a baby under 12 months-old in a rear facing, properly installed and fastened infant car seat, is 71 percent less likely to die. A child between one and four-years old, in the proper car seat during an car accident, has a 50 percent lower chance of dying than the same child who is not secured in a car seat.

Why take chances? From your baby’s very first car ride, secure him or her in an infant car seat.

Parents And Caregivers Can:

  • Use their own seat belt on every trip, no matter how short. This sets a good example. Studies also show that drivers are more likely to buckle their child if the driver buckles their own seat belt.
  • Make sure children are properly buckled up in a seat belt, car sear or booster that is secured in the back seat of the car with the car’s seat belt.

Click to download California's 2012 Child Buckle-Up Law 

Which Car Seat is Best for Your Child?

Choose the correct car seat for your child's age. To be certain that the seat is properly installed, ask local law enforcement or the California State Automobile Association (AAA) to inspect it. Schools, medical facilities or parks may also hold events to check car seat installation.

  • Birth – about age 2: Use a rear-facing child safety seat. Make sure that the straps are clipped together at about the baby’s armpit level and the buckle between the baby’s legs cannot be pulled out.
  • Ages 2 – 4 (or until 40 lbs): Use a forward-facing child safety seat. Many infant seats can be converted to a child’s seat by removing the infant insert.
  • Ages 4 – 8 (or until 4’ 9” tall): Use a booster seat. Many child seats can be converted to a booster seat by removing the backrest.
  • Ages 8 – 12: Use a regular vehicle seat belt only if the lap belt sits low across the child's hips and the shoulder belt crosses the center of the chest (and is not close to the neck). If children are not tall enough for a proper fit, they must use a booster seat.

Low-Cost Options  

If you are considering buying a used child car seat, make sure it has never been in an accident or been recalled and that all straps, buckles and parts are in working condition. County Child Protective Services or law enforcement may offer low-cost child car seats.