The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a new set of guidelines for child safety seats. These updated guidelines are based on age instead of seat type which supported the previous guidelines. It is advised that parents keep their children in each of the seats for as long as possible before moving them to the next level of car seat.
Children under the age of one should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. Children between the ages of one and three should remain rear-facing until they have reached the maximum weight limit for the seat. Children between age four and seven should remain in a five-point harness seat facing forward until they have reached the height or maximum weight limitation. Children between the age of eight and twelve should sit in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are too large for the seat belt to fit properly. Children up to the age of thirteen should sit in the back seat.
It has also been noted that all child safety seats have expiration dates that parents should be aware of otherwise the shell inside can break or the harness strap can loosen and fray. The expiration date can be found on the plastic frame. When buying a used car seat it is recommended to ask for the expiration date prior to the purchase.