Federal guidelines and California laws help parents determine which car seat or child restraint system is appropriate. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends certain car seats or restraints, based on a child's weight, height and age. Similarly, California imposes rules requiring the use of a car seat or booster, until a child is 8 or reaches a height minimum of 4- feet 9-inches tall.
According to the NHTSA, rear-facing car seats are appropriate for children from birth to age 3. Forward-facing seats may be used starting after a child's first birthday up to age 7. Booster seats are recommended as early as age 4 up to age 12. Seat-belt use coincides with California law, beginning at age 8.