As a new mom, driving home from the hospital for the first time can be scary. You want more than anything to protect that tiny baby in the back seat! Moms will spend hours in the car with their children during those early years, and having the proper carseat offers the peace of mind needed to keep moms moving right along.

The carseat aisle at any baby supply store is… a bit overwhelming. But knowing which one is right for your child doesn’t have to worry and stress you out. Here’s a quick reference guide:

Age Group

Type of Seat

General Guidelines

Infants and toddlers
  • ​Rear-facing-only
  • Rear-facing-convertible
All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will allow children to ride rear facing for 2 years or more.​
Toddlers and preschoolers
  • ​Forward-facing convertible
  • Forward-facing with harness
Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.
School-aged children
  • ​Booster
All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years of age. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.
Older children
  • ​Seat Belts
When children are old enough and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.

Read more and get installation tips here.