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Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Guidelines for Babies, Children & Adolescents

Guidelines for car seat use change based on your child’s age, weight, and height. Different manufacturers have different weight restrictions for a given car seat; this may factor into your decision about which car seat to select. Be sure to know at what weight the car seat you own is no longer safe for you child.

The following websites may be helpful in determining the safest method for your child.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I turn my child’s car seat around? No sooner than their 2nd birthday. Many newer convertible carseat models can accommodate rear-facing alignment beyond 2 years old, however. We recommend following manufacturer recommendations.

My toddler is tall and her legs are scrunched up in a rear-facing car seat. Wouldn’t it be better to turn her around? The need to have children rear facing is based on the strength (or lack thereof) of their necks. The most recent safety studies show that front facing infants and toddlers are at high risk for neck injuries. Because most bad collisions are rear-enders, having your toddler facing the rear of the car will provide extra support behind the neck. Again this is based on age not weight or height. Children’s legs are much more flexible than the neck and less likely to sustain injuries in the event of a rear-end collision.

Virginia’s Child Restraint Device Laws

Virginia’s Child Passenger Safety Laws

Where to Get Help with Car Seat Installation

There are locations (mostly fire and/or police stations) that will help install your car seat or ensure that your installation is correct. To find a location near you, click on the link below.

Car Seat Installation Locations (scroll to bottom of page linked)

NOTE: You need to have your car seat properly installed prior to taking your newborn home from the hospital. Hospital staff are not trained in properly installing car seats, and will not help you with this. Please plan ahead and, at a minimum, have the car seat base installed once you reach 36 weeks.

***Updated 5/6/2020