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

Updated on November 7, 2017
Bishop55 profile image

I'm drawn to share what I know about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, animals, and spirituality.

Keeping Your Kids Safe Goes Way Beyond Car Safety

Safety first!
Safety first! | Source

General rules

As a biological parent, adoptive, step, or caregiver, you want to keep your little ones safe way beyond being in a car. This is why we safety proof our homes, we plug electrical outlets, we lock cabinets containing household chemical supplies, etc...the list goes on. 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 Ohio car-seat laws, but the general rules apply as well as using common sense when placing your precious cargo (children) into any moving vehicle.

Other things to consider

  • 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.

Avoid unnecessary injury

Automobile accidents and crashes are the leading cause of death for children 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 it 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.


  • 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!

A well-made car seat

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

Use the right seat and safety belts

Birth - 12-month 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's 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. They need to be in a seat regardless of front or back with a proper working seat belt.

Quick reference

Seat type/Location
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
till they out grow, then booster seat
booster seat/back
by height/weight limits
back seat with seat belt
remainder of life

© 2013 Rebecca


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • babytact profile image

      Mahmoud Saleh 2 years ago

      It is our duty to ensure that our babies are safe

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 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