Step 2: Forward-Facing Seats

Children can ride forward-facing in a vehicle’s back seat once they have reached the upper weight (30 to 35 pounds) or height limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, which will typically be around age 2. It is safest to keep your child in a forward-facing seat with a harness until he or she reaches the seat’s maximum height or weight (40 to 65 pounds) limits.

Forward-facing seats include an internal harness system that keeps a child properly restrained and snug straps that limit forward motion. In the event of a crash, the forward-facing position provides for even distribution of physical forces over a child’s body.

FAQ: When should I switch from a rear-facing to a forward-facing car seat?

FAQ: When is my child ready for a booster seat?

FAQ: What car seat installation method should I use?


Forward Facing Wrong Versus Right


Installation tips

  • Forward-facing seats should be installed in the back seat of your vehicle whenever possible.
  • The center seating position is ideal if it can be used, since it is the farthest from any point of impact.
  • The seat should be installed using either the LATCH system or vehicle safety belt, never both. Be sure to buckle unused safety belts to limit risk of strangulation.
    • If using the LATCH system, buckle all unused safety belts to prevent the possibility of strangulation.
    • If using a safety belt, make sure the belt is locked and can hold the seat tightly. You should not be able to move the seat more than one inch in any direction when testing where the belt goes through.
  • Never install anything under or behind the forward-facing safety seat.
  • Harnesses should be at or above your child’s shoulders when riding forward-facing. Check the car seat’s instructions to determine the correct harness slot that should be used.
  • The harnesses should be snug and lie flat on your child’s shoulders, and you should not be able to pinch any slack.
  • The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level, right across the sternum. This protects soft tissue and helps keep the straps on your child.

Do not use any aftermarket accessories, such as mirrors and metal roller shades, and secure loose items such as purses, briefcases, toys and umbrellas, because these items could cause injury in a crash or sudden stop.