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Child Safety Seats

Know the Law

All children under 8 must be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat, regardless of weight or height. Review Virginia's child passenger safety laws.

Basic Safety Practices

  • Every occupant in the car must be properly restrained by a safety device - whether in a child safety seat or booster seat, or by a seat belt. Do not share seat belts.
  • Never hold a child on your lap or allow anyone to ride in the cargo area of a station wagon, van or pickup.
  • Set a good example by buckling up on every ride. Children are more likely to become lifelong seat belt users when their parents are lifelong seat belt users.

Child Safety Seat Selection

The best child restraint:

  • Is comfortable and is correct for your child’s age, weight, physical development and maturity level;
  • Has instructions and fits your vehicle;
  • Is less than 6 years old, has a known history and recall status, and is not under current recall.

To select the right safety seat, check the weight and height limitations on the safety seat labels, review the Four Stages of Car Seats, or refer to Choosing the Right Seat.

Safety Seat Location

  • Place the safety seat in the back seat of your vehicle whenever possible.
  • Never place a child safety seat in front of an active passenger air bag. If there is no back seat and the child is in the front seat, the air bag must be off.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual to see how side airbags may impact safety seats.

Installation

  • Check the safety seat instructions, the vehicle owner's manual or visit a Car Seat Checkup event or fitting station.
  • Safety seats should be tightly installed with either a safety belt or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to hold it in place.
  • Harness straps should be positioned on the shoulders and chest, and flat against the child's body. The harness straps should be snug so that you cannot pinch any slack in the straps at the child's shoulders.
  • For rear-facing car seats, use the harness straps through the slots that are at or below the shoulders. For forward-facing car seats, use the harness straps slots that are at or slightly above the shoulders.
  • The harness retainer clip should be at armpit level.
  • Make sure that the safety seat does not move forward or side-to-side more than 1 inch.

Installation Video

 Provided by the VA Dept of Health

More installation instructions

Child Safety Seat Resources

Find out more...