Serious car accidents are the top cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 12 years old, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To keep your child safe while in a vehicle, your child must fall within the stated height and weight restrictions of the car seat.
Rear-facing Car Seats
The weight limits for a rear-facing car seat range between 5 pounds and 22 or 35 pounds, states the American Academy of Pediatrics. Each manufacturer has individual and specific recommendations for weight guidelines, so check with the manufacturer of your car seat for specific guidelines pertaining to the seat. Height limits also vary for different manufacturers, advises the CarSafety.org website. Check the car seat manual for specific instructions. The height limit may be the top of your child’s head coming within 1 inch of the top of the car seat shell, your child’s head being even with the car seat shell or the top of your child’s ears being even with the car seat shell.
Convertible and Three-in-one Car Seats
Convertible car seats can face the rear or front, depending on your child’s age, weight and height, according to the SaferCar.gov website. Three-in-one car seats can serve as a rear-facing, front-facing and booster car seat. Consult manufacturer recommendations for weight and height restrictions for using a convertible and three-in-one car seat in the rear-facing position because the restrictions vary for different manufacturers and seat designs. When your child reaches either the weight or height limit for facing the rear, turn the seat around to face forward. When your child reaches the weight or height limit for the car seat in a forward-facing position, either convert the car seat to a booster seat or switch your child to a different booster seat.
Forward-facing Car Seats
The weight limits for a forward-only facing car seat range between 40 and 80 pounds, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The prevalence of forward-facing-only car seats has dropped, with most manufacturers opting to focus car seat designs on convertible and three-in-one designs. Consult specific manufacturer guidelines for height and weight limits for a specific forward-facing car seat.
Booster Car Seats
Booster car seats are designed for larger and older children who still need additional protection in a vehicle. Booster car seat weight and height restrictions vary according to manufacturer. Generally, children between ages 5 and 9, with heights under 4 feet 9 inches and weighing less than 80 to 100 pounds, are the appropriate age and size for a booster car seat, advises the Safe Kids website.