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Child Safety Seats

Virginia's child passenger safety laws require all children under 8 to be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat, regardless of weight or height.

Follow basic safety practices by:

  • Making sure every occupant in the car is properly restrained by a safety device - whether in a child safety seat or booster seat, or by a seat belt. Do not share seat belts.
  • Never holding a child on your lap or allowing anyone to ride in the cargo area of a station wagon, van or pickup.
  • Setting a good example by buckling up on every ride. Children are more likely to become lifelong seat belt users when their parents are lifelong seat belt users.

Selecting a Safety Seat

The best child restraint:

  • Is comfortable and is correct for your child’s age, weight, physical development and maturity level;
  • Has instructions and fits your vehicle;
  • Is less than 6 years old, has a known history and recall status, and is not under current recall.

To select the right safety seat, check the weight and height limitations on the safety seat labels, review the Four Stages of Car Seats, or refer to Choosing the Right Seat.

Placement of a Safety Seat

  • Place the safety seat in the back seat of your vehicle whenever possible.
  • Never place a child safety seat in front of an active passenger air bag. If there is no back seat and the child is in the front seat, the air bag must be off.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual to see how side airbags may impact safety seats.

installing a Safety Seat

  • Study the safety seat instructions or the vehicle owner's manual, or visit a Car Seat Checkup event or fitting station.
  • Tightly install the safety seat with either a safety belt or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to hold it in place.
  • Position the harness straps on the shoulders and chest, and flat against the child's body. The harness straps should be snug so that you cannot pinch any slack in the straps at the child's shoulders.
  • For rear-facing car seats, use the harness straps through the slots that are at or below the shoulders. For forward-facing car seats, use the harness straps slots that are at or slightly above the shoulders.
  • Position the harness retainer clip at armpit level.
  • Make sure that the safety seat does not move forward or side-to-side more than 1 inch.

Certification and Training

The National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program, administered by Safe Kids Worldwide, certifies child passenger safety (CPS) technicians and instructors. CPS technicians participate in a variety of activities and events where they assist parents and caregivers with the correct installation and placement of child restraint systems and seat belts.

In addition, the "Operation Kids: Next Generation - Child Passenger Basic Awareness Course" is designed to increase awareness of child passenger safety among first responders, health care personnel, and child care providers.

To find out more, refer to Child Passenger Safety Training.

Installation Video

 Provided by the VA Dept of Health

More installation instructions

Child Safety Seat Resources

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