Birth - 12 Months Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
1 - 3 Years Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It's the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
4 - 7 Years Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it's time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
8 - 12 Years Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it's safer there.
*Information obtained from Parents Central at SaferCars.gov for Car Seat Recommendations for Children
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CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90 section 7AA - Child Passenger Restraints:
A passenger in a motor vehicle on any way who is under the age of 8 shall be fastened and secured by a child passenger restraint, unless such passenger measures more than 57 inches in height. The child passenger restraint shall be properly fastened and secured according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Unless required to be properly fastened and secured by a child passenger restraint under the preceding paragraph, a passenger in a motor vehicle on any way that is under the age of 13 shall wear a safety belt which is properly adjusted and fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any such child who is: (1) riding as a passenger in a school bus; (2) riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle made before July first, nineteen hundred and sixty-six, that is not equipped with safety belts; (3) physically unable to use either a conventional child passenger restraint or a child restraint specifically designed for children with special needs; provided, however, that such condition is duly certified in writing by a physician who shall state the nature of the disability as well as the reasons such restraints are inappropriate; provided, further, that no such certifying physician shall be subject to liability in a civil action for the issuance of or for the failure to issue such certificate.
An operator of a motor vehicle who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars; provided, however, that said twenty-five dollar fine shall not apply to an operator of a motor vehicle licensed as a taxi cab not equipped with a child passenger restraint device. A violation of this section shall not be used as evidence of contributory negligence in any civil action. A person who receives a citation for a violation of any of the provisions of this section may contest such citation pursuant to section three of chapter ninety C. A violation of this section shall not be deemed to be a conviction of a moving violation of the motor vehicle laws for the purpose of determining surcharges on motor vehicle premiums pursuant to section one hundred and thirteen B of chapter one hundred and seventy-five.
QUICK LINKS FOR INFORMATION PERTAINING TO CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY AND USE OF CHILD RESTRAINTS