Follow These Best Practices When Buckling up Children

Car seats and booster seats provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. That’s why it’s so important to choose and use the right car seat correctly every time your child is in the car. North Dakota Health & Human Services (HHS) offers the following best practices when transporting children in vehicles:

Children should ride rear-facing as long as possible.

Two types of car seats are available for rear-facing:

  • Infant Seats – Most of these seats can be used until 22-35 pounds. Use them until the highest size limits or until the child’s head is within one inch of the top of the seat.
  • Convertible Seats – These seats can be used rear-facing and forward-facing. Most can be used rear-facing up to 30-40 pounds. Use them rear-facing until the highest size limits allowed by the manufacturer.

When children have outgrown the highest rear-facing size limits of their car seat, they may ride forward-facing in a car seat with a harness. Use the seat until the child reaches the highest size limits allowed by the manufacturer. Car seats with harnesses can be used up to 40-100 pounds.

When children have outgrown the harness in their forward-facing car seat, they may be moved to a belt-positioning booster seat. Keep children in boosters until they are about 4’9” tall or until the seat belt fits correctly over the body. Most boosters can be used up to 80-120 pounds.

When children have outgrown their booster seat, they may use a seat belt when it fits over the body correctly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest. It should not lie on the stomach or across the neck.

Additional Tips:
  • Children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat
  • Select a car seat based on your child’s age, size, development and maturity (size information will be on labels attached to the car seat and in the instruction manual)
  • Secure your child in the seat snugly, following the car seat instructions
  • Install the seat tightly in your vehicle using the seat belt OR lower anchors and tether (LATCH) system
  • Follow the car seat instructions and vehicle owner’s manual
  • Register your car seat with the manufacturer, check for recalls and monitor the expiration date of the seat

Have your child’s car seat or booster seat checked by one of the many certified child passenger safety technicians available throughout the state. To find a child passenger safety technician, contact the HHS Child Passenger Safety Program at 800.472.2286 or visit click here.

Parents and caregivers can make a lifesaving difference by ensuring that their children are properly buckled on every trip.