Children's Hospital Colorado
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Just Ask Children's


Car Seats, Boosters and Car Safety for Babies and Children

A baby sits in a purple car seat rear-facing inside of a car with gray interior. She has dark hair and is wearing a white shirt and blue pants. She's smiling.

Is your child's car seat installed correctly? Several Safe Kids coalition affiliates provide free car seat education and inspection where a certified technician can help with hands-on instruction and installation. Find a car seat inspection station near you.

You can also contact a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician at www.carseatscolorado.com.

Car seat safety at Children's Hospital Colorado

Motor vehicle crashes kill more kids than any other cause of death - and four out of five car seats are used incorrectly. Make sure you are following the current Colorado car seat law and the safest practices for your child. The best practice may differ from the law. Read our tips below to make sure your child is properly secured.

By law, children ages 4 to 8 years old (through their 8th birthday) must use either a car seat or a booster seat. For safety, many children need to continue to use a booster seat until they are 12 years old.

Infants up to age 1

Colorado car seat law: Infants must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds in the rear seat of the vehicle.

Safest practice: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and caregivers to keep their children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the limits of their car safety seat. Many car seats can be used rear-facing until your child weights 35 to40 pounds. This will include virtually all children under age 2 and most children up to age 4. Rear-facing seats offer the best protection during a crash because the whole body (head, neck and torso) is cradled by the back of the safety seat in a frontal crash. They also protect your baby better in other types of crashes, particularly side impact crashes.

Children between the ages of 1 and 4

A baby boy wearing a white striped polo and shorts sits in a blue car seat with 5-point harness facing backward in the back seat.
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, up to the limits of their car safety seat.

Colorado car seat law: Children who are older than 1 years old and weigh more than 20 pounds must be properly restrained in a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat.

Safest practice: Children should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, up to the limits of the car safety seat. This will include virtually all children under 2 years old and most children up to 4 years old. Once they have been turned around, children should remain in a forward-facing car safety seat up to that seat's weight and length limits. Most seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.

Restrain your 1- to 4-year-old child in a car safety seat with a five-point harness system, which features two shoulder straps, two hip straps and a crotch strap. A five-point harness system has more places to distribute crash forces and offers better protection than a lap and shoulder belt.

Keep your children in the back seat. Always use the upper-tether strap (the long pieces of seat belt material with a clip on the end located on the top back of a forward-facing car seat) according to the vehicle owner's manual and child restraint manufacturer's instructions.

Keep your children in the back seat. Always use the upper-tether strap (the long pieces of seat belt material with a clip on the end located on the top back of a convertible car seat) according to the vehicle owner's manual and child restraint manufacturer's instructions.

Children between the ages of 4 and 8

A girl with blonde hair and wearing a white sleeveless top sits in a brown car seat with 5-point harness and drink holder.
Children should be in a booster in the back seat until they can use a seat belt that fits correctly.

Colorado booster seat law: Children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old (through their 8th birthday) must continue to ride in a child restraint. This can be a five-point harness child safety seat for younger children or a booster that uses the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt as kids get older and bigger.

Safest practice: Children should be in a belt-positioning booster in the back seat until they can use a seat belt that fits correctly. Studies have shown the use of booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 59% compared to seat belts alone. Keep your child in a booster until:

  • the shoulder belt of the car's seat belt crosses her shoulder and chest (not her neck)
  • the lap belt crosses her upper thighs (not her abdomen)
  • her knees bend at the edge of the back seat and her feet touch the floor
  • she can stay seated like this for the entire trip

Children between the ages of 8 and 16

Colorado law: Children between the ages of 8 and 16 (through their 16th birthday) must use a seat belt or child restraint.

Safest practice: Follow the guidelines above to know when your child can safely stop using the booster. Keep your child in the back seat as long as possible, until at least age 13 and 100 pounds. If your teenager is in the front seat, put the seat as far back as possible in case the airbag deploys in a crash.

Remember that children learn by watching their parents, and this includes good driving habits.

Video: 5 car seat reminders for parents



Which car seat or booster is right for my child?

Make sure your car seat or booster is installed correctly to best protect your child. Several Safe Kids coalition affiliates provide free car seat education and inspection where a certified technician can help with hands-on instruction and installation. Find a car seat inspection station near you.

You can also contact a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician at www.carseatscolorado.com.

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