Choosing an age-appropriate car seat for your child is important both for safety and, in some countries, to comply with the law. There are many types of car seats available to protect your child in the event of an accident, including the rear-facing car seat, the front-facing car seat and the booster seat. The front-facing car seat is designed to protect toddlers from injury. Using a safety device that is not age appropriate for your child can result in severe injury or death, so it is important to understand the requirements for the various types of car seats and the use of an age-appropriate car seat for your child.
Your child is ready for a front-facing car seat when he or she has met certain age, weight and height restrictions. Different countries have various requirements on the use of child restraint systems in vehicles. In the United States, these restrictions are outlined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and are enforced by law enforcement at local levels. Individual states may impose further regulations on the use of safety devices in different vehicles so it is important to understand the laws in areas where you intend to travel. Improperly using car seats or failing to use an age-appropriate safety device can result in fines and criminal charges in some areas.
As a general rule of thumb in many areas, front-facing car seats are used for children who are past the age of 2 years or who have exceeded the height requirements for rear facing car seats. The child will normally need this type of car seat until they have reached the age of 4 years, when they are ready for a booster seat. While local regulations may be more precise, these basic guidelines will allow safe, legal travel for you and your child in many regions. To be certain that your child safety restraint system is legal in the areas where you travel, it is highly recommended that you check the local laws and regulations well in advance of anticipated travel dates.
Parents who travel or may travel with their children need to know whether the children need front-facing car seats and have some general knowledge about car seat safety. The seat belts used in automobiles are designed for adults and older children. Younger children can be injured by using seat belts without a car seat, through misuse of a front-facing car seat or because of improperly installed safety devices.