“4 Steps for Kids” Program Description

4 steps for kids logo


Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children from age 3 through 19, due in part to the nonuse or improper use of child safety seats and safety belts.

NHTSA's 4 Steps for Kids program promotes the correct use of child safety seats at different stages in a child's development, as shown in the “4 Steps” logo. This publication focuses on the third stage: booster seats.

When children outgrow their forward-facing child safety seats -- at about 4 years old and approximately 40 pounds -- they should ride in belt-positioning booster seats for optimal protection. To ensure their safety, older children should remain in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4’ 9” tall.

NHTSA’s 4 Steps for Kids guidelines help parents choose the correct restraint for each stage of their child’s development. The 4 Steps are:

  1. Rear-facing infant seats from birth to at least 1 year old and at least 20 pounds.

  2. Forward-facing toddler seats from age 1 and at least 20 pounds to about age 4 and at least 40 pounds.

  3. Booster seats from about age 4 and 40 pounds to at least age 8, unless 4’9” tall.

  4. Lap and shoulder safety belts at age 8 or older or taller than 4’ 9”.

All children 12 and younger should ride in the back seat.