Starting January 1, 2017, children under 2 years old must be properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat (unless they weigh 40 pounds or more or are 40 inches tall or more). Children must be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat. Experts now recommend you keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible because it is five times safer than when a child rides forward-facing.
Children under age 8 must be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle. Children age 8 or older, or who are 4’9” or taller may use the vehicle seat belt if it fits properly with the lap belt low on the hips, touching the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt crossing the center of the chest. If children are not tall enough for a proper belt fit, they must ride in a booster or car seat.
Select a car seat that is compatible with your vehicle and appropriate to the age, weight, and height of your child. Make sure it is simple to use and you can easily install it each time you need it. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding proper use and installation of your child’s car seat.
Rear Facing Car Seats – For Infants and Toddlers
Infants and toddlers under 2 years of age must ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 pounds or is 40 or more inches tall. There are two types of rear-facing car seats:
Forward Facing Car Seats - For Toddlers and Preschoolers
Children are ready to ride in a forward-facing car seat when they are at least 2 years old or have outgrown the rear-facing height and weight limit of their convertible car seat. Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top weight or height limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
Booster Seats - For School-aged Children
All children who have outgrown the weight and height limits of their forward-facing car seat must use a belt positioning booster seat until they are at least 8 years of age or 4'9" tall. The belt positioning booster seat will raise your child up so that the lap and shoulder belt can fit properly.
Keep children in a booster seat until:
For assistance locating a car seat fitting or inspection station near you, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.
For more information on car seat safety, including educational videos in English and Spanish, visit the California Highway Patrol website.