Car Seat to Seatbelt: What’s Best for Your Child

A child’s safety while in a car is a significant concern for all parents. Learning when and how to transition your child out of a specific period and keep them secure in car seats is critical.

Stage 1: Rear-Facing Car Seats

Age Range: Infancy to early childhood covers birth up to 2-4 years.

Weight/Height Guidelines: It is essential to adhere to the general guidelines of the specific car seat manufacturer.

Children can safely sit in the back of the car, but infants and toddlers should use rear-facing car seats. These seats protect not only the head and neck but also the spinal column in the event of a car accident and distribute the impact force throughout the body. Children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach the maximum weight limit or the car seat’s height.

Children should remain in rear-facing car seats as long as possible until they reach the maximum weight limit, usually up to 40 pounds or about 2-4 years of age. The kids should stay in the back-facing position, providing high car seat safety in an incident.

Stage 2: Forward-Facing Car Seats

Age Range: Approximately 2–7 years

Weight/Height Guidelines: Follow the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations.

After outgrowing their rear-facing seat, your child can use the following car seat: a forward-facing car seat with a harness. This seat still provides enough protection since the harness distributes crash forces throughout the most substantial portions of the child’s body.

Until the child surpasses the rear-facing car seat’s weight and height limit, they should transition to a forward-facing seat. It would be best to use capsule carriers with a harness in a forward-facing position until the child is typically around seven years old.

Stage 3: Booster Seats

Age Range: Approximately 7–12 years

Weight/Height Guidelines: Typically for children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Booster seats help place the seat belt in the proper position on the body, with the lap belt placed way below the stomach, across the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt placed across the chest and shoulder, not on the neck or face. Two booster seats, high-back and backless, are common types of receptionist chairs. High-back boosters are effective when your car has reclined backrests or does not have headrests, while backless boosters are best when used in a vehicle with profitable head support.

Replace the forward-facing seat with a booster seat when your child grows beyond it, around seven years of age. Parents should continue to utilize a booster until the vehicle seat belt can fit the child properly without it, usually when the child grows to a height of 4 feet 9 inches.

Stage 4: Seatbelts

Age Range: Generally 10–13 years and up.

Height Guidelines: 4 feet 9 inches tall

Seatbelts are for adult use; however, the seat could safely hold an older child if they meet the height criteria. The seat belt should rest low on the hips, the lap belt should come as low as the upper tights, and the shoulder belt should be over the shoulder and chest.

Children may choose a regular seat belt if they grow up so that the belt can stretch over their bodies appropriately. It happens when they grow to this size and age between 10 and 13 or reach about 4 feet 9 inches in height. The seat belt should be correctly adjusted, with the child seated against the back of the car and the child’s legs bending at the knees over the edge of the seat.


Properly restraining your child when they ride in the car can be a matter of life and death. In 2022, 85 children died in Florida car accidents and half of those victims were not correctly strapped in. As your child grows, they safest way for them to ride in the car changes. You should familiarize yourself with the height and weight requirements for each type of car seat your child will use over the years. When it’s time to leave the car seat and begin using a seat belt, make sure your child has reached the required height and the seat belt is fitted properly.