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When is it safe to stop using your child’s car seat?

There are many reasons that you might want to move on from your child’s first car seat. Maybe you are tired of carrying it around all the time and buckling it yourself. Or maybe your baby is getting fussy because they’ve grown out of it.

Whatever your reason is, you should know that Illinois has legal requirements for every type of car seat. To keep your child safe and avoid a ticket, make sure you use the proper seat for your child.

Rear-facing infant seat

Your baby’s first car seat gets the job done when they are a newborn—but it won’t last forever. Once your baby exceeds the seat’s height or weight limits, it’s time to look for a new car seat. This could happen before their first birthday.

Convertible car seat

The next seat that you get is the one that your child will probably spend most of their childhood in. This seat can switch between rear- or forward-facing and must be used until your child weighs 40 pounds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends switching from rear-facing to forward-facing somewhere between the ages of 2 and 4.

Booster seat

After reaching the 40-pound mark, you may put your child in a booster seat. These seats might either have a back behind them or just elevate your child’s height.

This is the last car seat your child needs to use. Children can’t sit on their own in the car until they reach 4 feet 9 inches in height.

No car seat

Most children are between the ages of 8 and 12 when they graduate completely from car seats. At this point, the law allows them to sit in the backseat with a seatbelt on at all times. Make sure that your child’s feet can touch the floor and the seatbelt is on their lap, not their stomach.

ride in the front seat until the age of 13. Airbags may be dangerous for shorter children, so use your best judgement when you decide to allow your child into the passenger seat.

Your child might be in a rush to sit on their own like adults do—but you don’t want to risk their safety. Make sure that you are using the proper safety equipment for their age and size while driving.

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