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Child Passenger Safety

Keep Your Child Safe in Four Stages

Follow these best practices when buckling children into vehicles.
In passenger cars, correctly used car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by
71% for an infant and 54% for toddlers.

Children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the back seat.

Stage 1

Children should ride rear-facing as long as possible. Two types of car seats are available for rear-facing:
  • Rear-Facing - Most of these seats can be used from four pounds up to 35 pounds or more. Use them until the highest size limits or until the child's head is within one inch of the top of the seat. 
  • Convertible/All in One Seats - These seats can be used rear-facing and forward facing. Most can be used rear-facing up to 30-40 pounds or more. Use them rear-facing until the highest size limits allowed by the manufacturer.

Stage 2

Forward-Facing Seats - When children have outgrown the highest rear-facing size limits of their car seat, they may ride forward-facing in a car seat with a harness. Use the seat until the child reaches the highest size limits allowed by the manufacturer. Car seats with a harness can be used up to 40 to 100 pounds or more.

Stage 3

Booster Seats - When children have outgrown the harness in their forward-facing car seat, they may be moved to a belt-positioning booster seat. Keep children in boosters until they are about 4'9" tall or until the seat belt fits correctly over the body. Most boosters can be used up to 80 to 100 pounds or more. Click here for more information on booster seats.

Stage 4

Seat Belts - When children have outgrown their booster seat, they may use a seat belt when it fits over the body correctly. For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest. It should not lie on the stomach or across the neck.

Additional Important Tips:
  • Select a car seat based on your child's age, height, weight, development and maturity.
  • Secure your child in the car seat harness snugly, following the car seat instructions.
  • Install the seat tightly in your vehicle using the seat belt OR lower anchors and tehter (LATCH). When installed in a vehicle, a car seat should not move more than one inch.
  • When installing forward-facing car seats with harnesses, choose a location in your vehicle that has a tether anchor and use the tether strap on the car seat. Follow car seat instructions.

How to Choose the Right Seat:

In order for car seats to protect children, they need to be used correctly. Did you know that 65% of the car seats checked in 2022 had some form of misuse?

North Dakota Child Passenger Safety Law

  • Children younger than 8 years of age are required to ride in a child restraint (car seat or booster seat). The restraint must be used correctly - following manufacturer's instructions.
  • A correctly-used seat belt may be substituted for children younger than age 8 who are at least 4'9" tall.
  • Children ages 8 through 17 must be properly secured in a seat belt or child restraint (car seat or booster seat).
  • Children younger than 18 must be properly restrained regardless of their location in a vehicle.
Confused about car seats? Help is available. Have your child's car seat or booster seat checked by one of the many certified child passenger safety technicians available throughout the state. To find a child passenger safety technician or a scheduled car seat checkup event, contact the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services, Child Passenger Program at 800-472-2286 or visit the online Child Passenger Safety maps.