Is There an Age Limit for Child-Safety Seats?

"Is there an age limit for child-safety seats?"

Anonymous

If by age limit you meant the seat itself, Cars.com editor Jennifer Geiger advises that child-safety seats have a shelf life of six years. Car seats are required to show either an expiration date or a date of manufacture, and they should be replaced after six years because materials in the seats can weaken over time and from use.

If you were asking about the ages of children, Geiger, a certified child-safety seat installation technician, says the laws are different in each state, but as a general rule it isn't safe for a child to be secured only with a seat belt until they are at least 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety maintains a list of child-restraint laws by state that should explain the requirements where you live.

As kids grow, parents have to decide when it's time to transition from an infant seat to a convertible seat, then to a booster and — finally — when they can be secured with just a seat belt. Here are helpful tips on making that first step out of an infant seat and then taking the final big step out of a booster.

Related
Car Seat Basics Part Two: From Infant to Convertible Seat

Car Seat Basics Part Three: Beyond the Booster

More on Child Safety from IIHS
By Rick Popely | November 3, 2013 | Comments (3)

Comments 

Mike S

Different seats have different expirations. Most Diono seats have a 10 year lifespan, which is one of the reasons my parents bought one, as they will have many years of intermittent grandparent duty with various kids.
And despite my double major in mechanical engineering and materials engineering, I think expiration dates are mostly am excuse for car seat manufacturers to wash their hands of liability and lawsuit risk after a certain amount of time, and at the same time, sell more seats.

Car seatbelts are made of the same webbing, and buckles are made of the same plastics. Lots of safety equipment in vehicles use the same materials, and they survive far longer than 6 years.

I'm not suggesting people ignore an expiration date. But its all too easy to waive the flag of safety and tell someone to throw out their equipment and buy new stuff. That's especially true if the seat spends most of its life indoors (not installed in a vehicle), as is the case with my parents seat, and many other infant carriers.

ChuckD

I'm not sure baby seats are necessary as I see lots of babies traveling in cars sitting in the laps of their Momz throughout Baltimore and DC.

Good to know!
It's better to be safe then sorry when it comes to the safety of your children. Double check items that are second hand before purchasing, they could have hidden flaws.

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