Are Your Kids in the Right Car Seat? This Tool Can Help

Even for a quick trip to the grocery store or to the doctor’s office down the street, your kids should be in the right car seat. The Child Car Safety campaign, developed by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council, is here to help protect kids and educate parents about how to find The Right Car Seat for every child’s age, height, and weight, for every ride.

How many times have you buckled your little ones into their car seat and assumed they were safe? When car seat restraints are used effectively, they can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. However, traffic fatalities are a leading cause of death for kids 14 and under.

This information might be overwhelming, but don’t worry: The Right Seat Finder is an easy-to-use tool that helps parents find the safest car seat. Here’s how to use it:

1. Go to ​NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat​ and enter your kid’s age, height and weight. The online tool will then give you a personalized list of car seat types that are the best fit for your child.

There are four types of seats: rear-facing car seats; forward-facing car seats; booster seats; and seat belts. For properly securing your little ones, there are two key types of rear-facing car seats. Designed for newborns and small babies, the infant-only car seat is a small, portable seat that can only be used rear-facing. Babies usually outgrow their infant car seats before their first birthday, but because every kid grows at different rates, they may outgrow it sooner. When the baby has outgrown the infant-only car seat, we recommend that parents purchase a convertible or all-in-one car seat and use it rear-facing.

2. Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions and read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.

3. Install your car seat correctly. This includes understanding the parts and tips used for installation. The Right Seat website includes tons of detailed car seat installation instructions and videos to help you.

4. Get your car seat inspected at a station. The Right Seat will help you easily locate a car seat check location close to your home, where a certified car seat safety technician can test your family’s current car seats.

5. Keep your kids safe in a car seat. Always buckle up your kiddo in their seat, and make sure to register your car seat and sign up for recall notices to receive safety updates. Safety doesn’t end once the seat is installed.

Love your kids? Make sure they’re buckled up in the right seat.

Visit​ ​NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat​ today to find the right seat for all your kids based upon your child’s age, height, and weight. And remember, car seat recommendations can change as your child grows, so stay up to date and make sure they’re protected every ride every time.

—Leah R. Singer