Most child car seats are too loose, and children are strapped too loosely into them. A car seat must be installed so that there is no more than one inch of side-to-side or front-to back movement. The child should be strapped in so that only one finger fits between the strap and his/her collarbone.
A child should be kept in a rear-facing seat until he weighs 30 to 35 pounds and as long as there is at least one inch of room between his head and the top of the car seat (though some groups recommend that a child should stay in a rear-facing seat until he is at least one year old and at least 20 pounds).
Children should start in booster seats when they weigh about 40 pounds and remain in them until they can wear a seat belt properly. This means that the lap portion rests firmly on the hip bone—low and snug on top of the thighs—when the child sits without slouching, with knees bending naturally over the edge of the seat. Children should not be out of booster seats until they are four feet nine inches tall, regardless of weight or age.
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