Car Seat Ratings Systems: What the Numbers Really Mean

Walk into any big box baby store you’ll find a dizzying array of stuff you never imagined that you’d need. Bassinets, footed pajamas, infant tubs - you name it, they have it.

They also have rows and rows of car seats, all of which look alike. But are they?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a database that rates car seats based on a five-star system that evaluates car seats based on:

  • Quality of instructions
  • Ease of installation
  • Clarity of labeling
  • Ease of securing your child

Car seats come in three categories:

  • RF - Rear facing seats
  • FF - Forward facing
  • B - Booster

The NHTSA breaks down the five-star rating system as follows:

  • 5 Stars = The car seat is excellent for its respective category.
  • 4 Stars = Above average features, instructions, and overall ease-of-use for its category.
  • 3 Stars = An average product for its category.
  • 2 Stars = Below-average features, instructions, labeling and ease-of-use for its category.
  • 1 Star = Poor overall features for this child safety seat.

Although car seats may look alike, they’re not. Parents can view a complete list of safety seat models and ratings by visiting the NHTSA website.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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