How Long Should Children Sit in a Car Seat?



One of the most valuable things you will ever buy for your child is a child safety seat for your vehicle. Odds are, when you leave the house, your child will travel with you. It's no exaggeration to say that a properly-fitting car seat that is appropriate for the height, weight, and age for your child can mean the difference between life and death. At Steve Landers Toyota, it is our first priority to make sure our customers and their families are safe and secure in their vehicles, so we’ve created this quick car seat guide to help you keep your children safe on the road! 


The answer to “How long should children sit in a car seat?” is a somewhat complicated one. A child simply doesn’t grow out of a car seat with toddlerhood. It may be necessary for children to sit in a booster seat until up to age 13, or once they reach a height of four feet, nine inches. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends four stages of car seat use for children to keep them safe at every stage of growth.


Stage 1: Rear Facing Car Seats Until at Least Age Two 

Children under the age of two should sit in a rear-facing seat in the back seat of a car. They should remain in a rear-facing seat until at least age two, or until they reach the upper weight and height limits of the seat.The AAP recommends keeping children in rear-facing seats for as long as possible. 


Stage 2: Forward Facing Car Seats with Harness Until at Least Age Five

When a child outgrows their rear-facing seat, place them in a front-facing seat with a harness and tether in the back seat. Use this car seat until children reach age five or until they reach the upper height and weight limits for the seat. 


Stage 3: Use a Booster Seat Until the Seat Belt Fits 

Once the child outgrows their forward-facing seat, they may graduate to a booster seat. Children should sit in a booster seat until the belt fits properly, usually when the child is at least four feet, nine inches tall. Don't rush it! Depending on his or her height, your child may be 12 years old before they are ready to safely ride in a vehicle without a booster seat. 


Stage 4: Wear a Seat Belt and Sit in the Back Seat

Children are ready to use the seat belt when the shoulder strap crosses over the center of the chest and rests on the shoulder (not the neck), the lap belt fits low on the hips and touches the thighs, the legs can bend, and the feet can rest on the floor. Once children are wearing only a seat belt, they should sit in the back seat until at least age 13. 


According to the AAP, using a car seat decreases the likelihood of death or serious injury by over 70 percent. You can’t predict when an accident will happen, but you can always do your best to be prepared. By keeping your children in the appropriate car seat and driving a safe family vehicle, you can be prepared in the event of an accident. 


If you are searching for your next safe, family-friendly vehicle, then give Steve Landers Toyota a call. We have a large inventory of vehicles perfect for families, like the 2019 Toyota Highlander. The Toyota Highlander provides your family with plenty of room to grow, and it boasts a five-star safety rating. Come down and see us on Colonel Glenn in Little Rock and take a Highlander for a family test drive! We’ll see you soon. 


Browse Our Inventory of the 2019 Toyota Highlander

Categories: Car Tips
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