Montana Department of Transportation


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Child Passenger Safety: Buying a Car Seat

Safety in four easy steps

Infant in rear-facing seat

Step 1 - Rear-facing seats
Always secure infants in the back seat in rear-facing child safety seats. Pay close attention to the height and weight limit of the particular seat.

Child in forward-facing seat

Step 2 - Forward-facing seats
At around age 1 and at least 20 pounds, children outgrow their rear-facing seats and are ready for forward-facing child seats placed securely in the back seat.

Child in booster seat

Step 3 - Booster seats
Around age 4 and 40 pounds, children outgrow their forward-facing seats but seat belts don't fit them properly. At this stage, children should ride in booster seats in the back seat.

Child in seat belt

Step 4 - Seat belts
At around age 8 or when children are 4'9" tall, they can safely use the adult seat belt in the back seat. The shoulder belt should cross the child's chest and rest snugly on the shoulder. The lap belt should rest low across the pelvis or hip area—never across the stomach area.

Printable 4-steps flyer

Buying a child seat

The type of seat your child needs depends on several things including their size and the type of vehicle you drive. FAQs
Car Seat Recalls
CHOP Car Seat Education
NHTSA's Car Seat Ease of Use Rating
Parents Central Car Seats
Safe Kids USA for parents
Ultimate Car Seat Guide

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping children in rear-facing child safety seats until they are 2 years old. Learn more.

Children with special needs

If your child has special needs, a variety of child safety seat options are available. Although you won't find these special car seats in popular department stores, they are readily available if you need them.

Car seats for special needs kids

Child Passenger Safety: Buying a Car Seat | How to Install a Car Seat | Boosters and the Back Seat