1. How long does my child have to ride in a rear-facing seat?
The safest recommendation would be to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until at least the age of 2 and or as long as they arewithin the weight and height requirements for the car seat. Wisconsin law states that children must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds.
2. How long does my child have to ride in a forward-facing car seat?
The safest recommendation would be to keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness as long as they are within the weight and height requirements for the car seat. Wisconsin law states that children must ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they are 4 years old and weigh 40 pounds.
3. How long does my child have to ride in a booster seat?
Wisconsin law states that children must ride in a booster seat until they are 8 years old or weigh 80 pounds or are 4 feet 9 inches tall (4'9"). However, it is not recommended for a child to stop using a booster seat until they are at least 4’9” and meet ALL of the following:
- The child must be able to sit all the way back against the vehicle seat.
- The child’s knees should be able to bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat.
- The seat belt must cross the shoulder between the neck and arm.
- The lap belt must sit low, across the child’s thighs.
- The child must be able to sit like this the whole trip.
It will also be much more comfortable for the child to wait until they meet all of these criteria. Otherwise, the seatbelt cuts across their neck and stomach and they tend to put it behind them, which puts them at great risk of injury in a crash.
4. If a car does not have a back seat, can you put a child safety seat in the front seat?
The safest recommendation would be to use an alternate vehicle with a back seat in which to transport the child appropriately restrained for age/weight/height.
Wisconsin law states that children required to ride in a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat must be restrained in the back seat, if a back seat is available. Safest Practice recommends that Children under 13 years of age should ride in the back seat using a lap and shoulder belt.
- It is never safe to place a rear facing child seat in the front seat, in front of an air bag.
- If a child must be transported in the front seat (never a rear facing child seat), the child should be appropriately restrained for their age/weight/height and the vehicle seat should be placed as far away from the dash/airbag as possible with the airbag turned off.
When used and installed correctly, car seats and safety belts can prevent injuries and save lives. Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent. Print these fact sheets free of charge to educate parents and caregivers on proper car seat use.
Comprehensive Car Seat Fact Sheet
Rear-facing Car Seat
Forward-Facing Car Seat
Whether you have just installed a car seat or need help installing or using one, get help at a car seat inspection station near you. Certified technicians will inspect your car seat, many times free of charge and show you how to correctly install and use it.
All car seats have an expiration date that can be found on the manufacturer’s label. If there is not an exact expiration date listed, a general rule is 6 years from the manufacture date. Seats used after their expiration date may not be safe or hold up in a crash.
Car seats purchased second hand are dangerous as well. The history of the car seat is unknown and may have been involved in a crash or recalled.
If you are looking to get rid old seats:
- Check the owner’s manual to see if any directions are offered.
- Dismantle the seat as much as possible before putting it in the trash.
- Be sure to cut the harness out of the seat, along with the buckle strap.
- The fabric cover also should be removed and anything else that will help deter from re-use.
- You may want to write on the plastic shell “DO NOT USE” as well.
Puffy winter coats and car seats do not mix. Puffy winter coats can severely affect how the harness fits on the child. View our fact sheet to learn more about this issue.