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Child Safety Seats

Using the Right Restraint to Save Kids' Lives

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age four to 14. Keeping children safe on the road means putting them in the right restraint at the right age. Child Passenger Safety Technicians in Baltimore County are working to make sure parents and child care providers know and follow every one of the four Steps for Kids, including the essential booster seat step that is often missed.

Additionally, be sure to review the details of Maryland laws to make sure your child is correctly buckled up.

Securing your child in the right restraint for their age every time they ride in a motor vehicle is one of the most important things you can do to protect your child.

The Four Steps for Kids

The four steps for child safety seats are:

  1. Rear-facing infant seats
  2. Forward-facing toddler seats
  3. Booster seats
  4. Safety belts

Children under 12 should always ride in the back seat.

Learn about the different car seat types.

Step 1: Infants

Infants from birth to at least one year of age should use a rear-facing infant seat or rear-facing convertible seat. Infants should use a rear-facing seat until they are at least 20 pounds. Babies usually outgrow their infant car seats by 8 or 9 months. When that happens, we recommend that parents purchase a convertible or all-in-one car seat and continue to use it rear-facing.

Step 2: Toddlers and Children

Toddlers and children up to four years old and between 20 and 40 pounds should use a forward-facing seat or a forward-facing convertible seat.

Step 3: Big Kids Who Need a Boost

Children from about age four and 40 pounds until at least age eight, or four feet and nine inches tall, should use a booster seat.

While most infants and toddlers ride in the correct child safety seat, less than 10 percent of the children who should be in booster seats use one. A booster seat lifts a child up so a safety belt can fit correctly. Without a booster seat, in a crash, a small child can be ejected from a vehicle.

Step 4: About Age Eight and Older

Children who are at least four feet and nine inches tall, usually about eight years old are safest in the back seat. Children younger than 13 years should never ride in a front seat equipped with an air bag. Generally, experts recommend that children be 100 pounds and about five feet tall before riding in the front.

Learn how to properly use lap-shoulder seat belts.

Car Seat Checks

For more information, or to find out how you can have your child safety seat checked, please call the Baltimore County Police Department at 410-887-8717, or visit one of our car seat checks.

Additional Resources

Nearly every car seat and most vehicles manufactured since September 1, 2002, are required to use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. This system makes it easier to get a child seat installed correctly.

Additional resources about car seats are available online.

Revised June 15, 2020         


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