How Long Does a Child Need a Car Seat or Booster Seat?

Updated on January 19, 2019
Bishop55 profile image

Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!

Keeping your kids safe goes way beyond car safety
Keeping your kids safe goes way beyond car safety | Source

Protecting Your Little Ones

As a caregiver or parent (whether biological, adoptive, or step), you want to keep your little ones safe wherever they are. We safety-proof our homes by blocking electrical outlets, locking cabinets containing household chemical supplies, and the list goes on. The same general safety concerns extend to the car. Why would you put your child into a moving metal death machine without protecting them for as long as possible?

Since laws vary by state, I will cover the laws in Ohio, which is where I live—but the laws are likely to be similar in your state. Many of these laws reflect general common sense when placing your precious cargo (i.e., children) into any moving vehicle. Be sure to check the laws in your state before making decisions about which type of seat your child(ren) should use.

Avoid Unnecessary Injury

Automobile accidents and crashes are the leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 13 years old in the United States. The best way to keep them safe in a car is to put them in the right seat, at age-appropriate times by height and weight, and to use the seats properly.

Not only will your child ride safely, but you will create the foundation for good habits of seat belt use every time you or your children travel.

Ohio State Laws (Similar in Other States, But Do Check!)

  • Children 4 years of age or less, or 40 pounds must use a child safety seat.
  • Children less than 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall, must use booster seats.
  • Children ages 8-15 must use a booster seat (or a regular seat that has a seat belt).

Fines typically range from $25-$75 per occurrence. Don't risk injury or tickets! No matter how much your 6-year-old begs to be out of the protective seat, don't allow it!

Travel safe and happily!
Travel safe and happily! | Source

Use the Right Seat and Safety Belts

Birth-12 months: Children should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
You should focus on keeping your child rear-facing for as long as possible.

1-3 years: Your child(ren) should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the top height and or weight limits permitted by the seat’s manufacturer. Once your child or children outgrow the rear-facing seat, they are ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4-7 years: Keep your children in forward-facing car seats with a harness until they reach the top height and or weight limit allowed by the seat’s manufacturer. Once your children outgrow the forward-facing seat with a harness, it’s time to purchase a booster seat, but your child should the remain in the back when traveling.

8-12 years: Keep your children in booster seats until they are big enough by weight and height to fit in a seat belt properly. If the seat belt is not fitting the way it should, it's not going to do the job it's intended to do, the lap belt must lie adequately across their upper thighs, not over their stomach. The shoulder belt should also lie easily across the shoulder and chest and not cross the face or neck. Don't forget: Your child should remain in the back seat because that is the safest place for them to be.

12-18 years: Keep your children in the back as often as possible, especially if they do not weigh over 100 lbs. Regardless of whether they are sitting in the front or the back, make sure the seat belt is functioning properly.

Car Seats by Age: Quick Reference

Age (years)
Seat type/Location
0-12 months
rear-facing car seat/back
as long as possible
rear-facing car seat/back
until reaching limits by weight or height
forward-facing car seat/back
until they outgrow, then booster seat
booster seat/back
by height/weight limits
no special seat/back preferred
age 18

Other Safety Measures

  • Use sunshades to protect your babies from glare and sun exposure in the car.
  • Never leave your children in a car in high-temperature weather. Again, common sense here people.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Rebecca


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • babytact profile image

      Mahmoud Saleh 

      4 years ago

      It is our duty to ensure that our babies are safe

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      It is so important to keep a child safe when driving and at all other times, the car seat must steady and safe. A useful and informative hub


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)