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Car Seats, Boosters and Car Safety for Babies and Children


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Car seat safety at Children's Hospital Colorado

Motor vehicle crashes kill more kids than any other cause of death - and 4 out of 5 car seats are used incorrectly. Make sure you are following the current law and the safest practices for your child. The best practice may differ from the law, so read our tips to make sure your child is properly secured.

Booster seat law effective Aug 1, 2011

Children ages 4-8 (through their 8th birthday) must use either a car seat or a booster seat. Effective, Aug. 1, 2011, you could face a fine of $82 or more if you are not in compliance with this law.

All children under 8 years old

Colorado Law: Children under 8 years old must be properly restrained in a child restraint system.

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Infants up to age one

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

Safest Practice: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and caregivers to keep their children in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. Many convertible car seats can be used rear-facing until your child weights 35-40 pounds. 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.

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Children between the ages of 1 and 4

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

Safest Practice: Restrain your 1 to 4 year old in a rear or forward-facing seat with a five point harness system until they are at least 40 pounds.There are forward facing car seats available with much higher weight limits. This type of 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. Use upper-tether straps when possible according to the vehicle owner's manual and child restraint manufacturer's instructions.

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Children between the ages of 4 and 8

Colorado Law: Children 4-8 (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 belt as kids get older and bigger.

Safest Practice: Children should be in a booster in the back seat until they are 57" tall and at least 8 years old. 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:

  • she is 4'9" (57") tall; for many children this is after age 8, so height is the safest guideline
  • 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 dangle down

Learn more about booster seat safety and usage guidelines.

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 seatbelt or child restraint.

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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 an accident.

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

Read Colorado's child restraint law. 

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 Denver Metro coalition affiliates provide free car seat education and inspection throughout the Denver metro area where a certified technician can help with 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.

How to keep kids safe in five easy steps

Car Seat Safety from Children's Hospital Colorado