3-in-1 Car Seat
A car seat that can be converted into one of three options: rear-facing with a 5-point harness, forward-facing with a 5-point harness, and a booster seat. The idea of a 3-in-1 is to have one car seat that you can change as your child grows. It could be used for as long as 10 years. You use the rear-facing option for children for as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. Most seats of this type will permit children to ride rear facing for 2 years or more. Then switch the car seat to the forward-facing option using the harness and top tether until height or weight limits are met. Finally, switch to the booster seat. Remove the harness and secure the child with the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt.Back to Top
Part of a detachable base or car seat that you can raise or lower to allow a rear-facing car seat, and some forward-facing seats, to be installed at the correct recline angle.
Source: SaferCar.govBack to Top
Aftermarket (Non-Regulated) Products
Accessories that are not included with the original purchase of the car seat. Some examples are infant head positioning pads, shoulder belt positioning pads, and shoulder belt positioning devices. These accessories are sometimes called “non-regulated” because the federal government does not oversee how they are made or tested (see Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards). Only accessories that have been tested and approved by the manufacturer of your car seat are acceptable to use.Back to Top
Airbag Warning Label
Found on all car seats that can be used in the rear-facing position. This label warns parents about the dangers of using the car seat on a vehicle seat with a frontal airbag. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires this label on all car seats that can be used in the rear-facing position.Back to Top
A way to the measure the correct angle of the car seat. It can be a bubble, dial, line or other way to be sure the rear-facing child is sitting at the correct angle. This is very important, because the correct recline angle ensures an infant or young toddler has an open airway when riding semi-reclined in the seat.Back to Top
Backless Booster Seat
A car seat without a harness that raises the child so the required adult lap and shoulder seat belt fits over the child correctly. Be sure to use a regulated seat designed for a car, not for a restaurant. Backless booster seats often come with a detachable shoulder belt guide. Please use it!
Here is an example of a backless booster seat:Back to Top
Booster Seat or Belt-Positioning Booster Seat (BPB)
A regulated car seat used without a harness that raises the child so the required adult lap and shoulder seat belt fits over the child correctly. You should wait to use this type of booster seat until your child outgrows the car seat that comes with a harness. All booster seats must be used with lap and shoulder belts. Booster seats may have high backs, removable high backs, or be backless.Back to Top
The mechanism of the vehicle seat belt or car seat that secures the seat belt or harness straps.Back to Top
A crash tested, regulated device typically used for transporting babies who must travel lying down. It is secured to the vehicle usually with a seat belt but may also have lower attachments. Use a car bed only if your baby has a medical need for one. Consult with your baby’s doctor for more information.Back to Top
A regulated seat that protects a child who is too small and/or immature to safely use the adult seat belt system in a vehicle. It is required by law in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. There are three main styles designed to protect children until they are ready for the adult seat belt, usually between ages 8-12: rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seat.Back to Top
Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST)
A person who successfully completes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standard child passenger safety certification program. Technicians have been trained to help families learn how to properly install all types of car seats in all types of vehicles for all children. Usually, they are volunteers in your community. Learn more about becoming a tech, click here.Back to Top
A clasp that holds the shoulder straps together over the child’s chest at armpit level.
Also known as retainer clip.Back to Top
Children with Special Transportation Needs
Children whose physical or behavioral conditions require a specially designed car seat because a regular car seat does not meet the child’s needs.Back to Top
Safe Kids coalitions are trained to prevent injuries to children. They use safety events and workshops to teach families how to protect their children at home, at play and on the road. They also work to haver laws about child safety and more. There are more than 400 Safe Kids coalitions across the United States. Find one near you.Back to Top
Combination Car Seat
A type of forward-facing-only car seat that is first used with a 5-point harness and top tether that secures a child over age 2 or more years- read instructions. The seat can later be converted to a belt-positioning booster seat after the child outgrows the harness by height or weight. The child is then restrained in the booster seat, with the harness removed, using the required adult lap and shoulder seat belt.Back to Top
Convertible Car Seat
A car seat that changes from a rear-facing seat for children up to at least age 2 to a forward-facing car seat that is used until the 5-point harness is outgrown by height or weight. This seat can be used longer than a seat that is only rear facing. If used with lower attachments (LATCH), you must stop using the attachments when your child reaches the LATCH weight limits. But you can continue to use the seat with the vehicle seat belt.Back to Top
Part of some car seats that can remain in the car and allow you to lift your rear-facing car seat carrier in and out. This is an advantage because you don’t have to secure the seat belt or lower attachments each time you put your baby in or out of the car. It often comes with a stroller option. This system allows a sleeping child to be moved from the vehicle without waking.Back to Top
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
These are the government standards that direct manufacturers as they make and test car seats. All car seats (with a harness) and booster seats (using the adult seat belt to secure the child) must perform to that standard before they can be sold in the USA.Back to Top
Forward-Facing-Only Car Seat
A car seat that is intended for use only in the forward-facing position. When a child outgrows a rear-facing car seat, the child moves into a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether.Back to Top
Straps that keep a child in the car seat in case of a crash. The safest harness is a 5-point harness that secures the child at the shoulders and hips, and buckles between the legs.Back to Top
A device on the car seat used to tighten and loosen the harness. The adjuster can be located on the back of the seat, on the harness itself, or on a push button between the child’s legs or feet.Back to Top
Harness Chest Clip or Retainer Clip
A clasp that holds the shoulder straps together over the child’s chest at armpit level. Also known as a harness retainer clip.Back to Top
Slots in the car seat that position the harness closest to the child’s shoulders. To get a good fit for your child, look for a car seat with multiple harness slots. As your child grows, you will use different harness slots.Back to Top
Harness Straps (Webbing)
The material the harness is made from, called “straps” or “webbing.” The harness straps help protect the child in a crash or sudden stop by spreading the crash forces over a wide part of the child’s body.
High-Back Booster Seat
A regulated car seat used without a harness that raises the child so the required adult lap and shoulder seat belt fits over the child correctly. You should wait to use this type of booster seat until your child outgrows the car seat that comes with a harness. All booster seats must be used with lap and shoulder belts. This booster seat has a high back and a guide for the adult shoulder belt. The high-back booster seat also gives the child a place to rest his head. Many booster seats come with side impact protection.Back to Top
A simple test to determine if the car seat is installed securely.
Here’s how it works: After your car seat is installed, try to move it at the belt path. A properly installed seat will not move more than 1 inch from side to side or from front to back.Back to Top
Infant-Only Safety Seat
A car seat to be used in a semi-reclined rear-facing position. This seat is generally used from 5 up to 40 pounds.
Also referred to as rear-facing-only car seat.Back to Top
Inspection Stations and Events
A place to have your car seat checked by certified child passenger safety technicians. Typically, inspection stations are open on specific days and times in one place. You might have to make an appointment to see someone at an inspection station. Events are often held outside of stores, in parking lots, at General Motors dealerships, at hospitals, and at community activity days. Certified technicians are usually volunteers who help people in their communities as a public service.Back to Top
LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This alternate three-part system allows you to securely fasten your car seat to the vehicle without using a seat belt. There are two lower attachments on the car seat that clip or hook onto two anchors that are at the seat crack (also called a “bight”) in the car. Sometimes you have to search for these. There is a tether anchor in the car that accepts a tether hook found on the back of the car seat.
LATCH and seat belt are each safe but are not used at the same time. LATCH is not available in every seating position and you must look in your vehicle manual to learn where they are located.
Many people want to put the car seat in the middle position. If the middle seat on your car does not have lower anchors, you cannot “borrow” anchors from the left or right seat. You will need to use a seat belt instead. This can be complicated, so please see a certified Car Seat Technician if you have questions.Back to Top
Car seats come with many labels that have important information for using the car seat properly. These labels are required by the government. They are located on the seat and tell you several important things: 1) NHTSA certification of conformation to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS213); 2) Weight and height guidelines for the specific seat; 3) Basic outline of the installation procedures; 4) Manufacturing data, including date of manufacture, the manufacture’s name and address, and model number; 5) Air bag warning; 6) FAA certification for use in an aircraft; 7) Weight limits for when lower anchors must be discontinued and replaced with the vehicle seat belt.Back to Top
The part of the belt fastening mechanism that you insert into the buckle. This may also be the part that adjusts the lap portion length of the adult seat belt webbing.Back to Top
A built-in belt-locking feature on some car seats that work with certain types of seat belts in a similar fashion as locking clips.Back to Top
A flat H-shaped metal item intended to clip the lap and shoulder seat belt webbing together at a free-sliding latchplate in order to create a fixed length of webbing and prevent it from slipping loose. A locking clip or lock-off comes on every car seat. These clips should not be necessary on cars made after 1996 as seat belts are required to lock a car seat without the clip. Locking clips are rarely needed today.Back to Top
Lower Anchor Attachments
A piece of belt webbing that has a hook or connector on each side of the car seat. They attach the car seat to the two lower LATCH anchorages in the vehicle. These attachments are used in place of the vehicle seat belt to secure the car seat to the vehicle. A top tether is also used as part of this three-part system. Lower anchorages have specific weight limits so lower attachments must be removed when the car seat manufacturer directs on the label. The car seat is then secured using the vehicle seat belt and top tether.Back to Top
A test to determine if the car seat harness is snug enough on the child. With the harness buckled and tightened and chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the harness strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any extra webbing, you’re good to go. The straps should not be so tight as to make marks on the child.Back to Top
Rear-Facing-Only Car Seat
A car seat to be used in a semi-reclined rear-facing position. This seat is generally used from 5 up to 40 pounds.
Also referred to as infant-only car seat. It may often be used until a child is two or more years old.Back to Top
Voluntary or required actions taken to notify consumers of a defect and provide a way to correct problems or deficiencies once a car seat has been distributed or sold. Manufacturers must offer free repairs or replacement for products recalled for violations of safety standards.Back to Top
A part of the car seat that allows a rear-facing only or convertible car seat to be semi-reclined or upright depending on the child’s needs and manufacturer’s instructions, specific to the direction the car seat faces in the vehicle.Back to Top
A postage-paid card that comes with every new car seat. You should complete the card and mail it back to the manufacturer so that they can notify you about recalls or safety issues with the car seat. You can register your car seat online at any time, too. Just go to the manufacturer’s website and give them the make of the car seat, the model number, and the date it was made. You can find this information on the seat’s label.Back to Top
You cannot see this device, but it rolls up the extra webbing of the vehicle seat belt.Back to Top
The webbing, retractor, buckle, and latchplate system that restrains the occupant or car seat in the vehicle. Also known as the adult seat belt.Back to Top
Seat Belt Fit Test
A test to determine whether your child is ready to move from a booster seat to the properly fitted adult seat belt in the vehicle.
The Seat Belt Fit Test:
- Your child’s knees bend at the edge of the seat when her back and bottom are against the vehicle seat back. Her feet should touch the floor for comfort and stability.
- The vehicle lap belt fits snugly across the hips or upper thighs.
- The shoulder belt fits across the shoulder and chest, NOT across the face or neck.
If your child does NOT meet all three conditions, your child should continue to use a car seat or booster seat. You can do the test again when your child grows a little.Back to Top
Seat Belt Path
The place on the car seat that the manufacturer has designed for the seat belt to pass around or through. Some car seats have multiple belt paths. For example, convertible car seats have one belt path for rear-facing use and a second one for forward-facing use.Back to Top
A piece of seat belt webbing with a hook that is on the back of the car seat at the top. When attached and tightened to the tether anchor, it helps keep the car seat from tipping forward in a crash or in case of a sudden stop, providing extra protection.Back to Top
Top Tether Anchor
A bracket or anchorage in the vehicle used to accept the car seat tether hook and strap. The tether anchor can be found on the package shelf, on the floor, in the ceiling, on the back of a captain’s chair or bench seat in a van or SUV–almost anywhere. Look for this symbol of an anchor in the vehicle to identify the tether anchor.Back to Top