Deciphering Car Seat Labels: How to Find Important Information

green checkmark This article was reviewed by Amanda Brown, CPST.


Car Seats are one of the most important—and often most confusing—baby items we purchase for our young children. But you’ve got precious cargo in your back seat, so before making that big purchase, it’s important to make sure you understand all the information about your child's car seat.

Whether it’s an infant car seat, rear-facing, booster seat, convertible seat, or forward-facing car seat, all car seats will come with car seat safety labels that include safety standards and the manufacturer's instructions on how to use the car seat properly. Here’s exactly what to look for and how to decode common car seat labels. 


Weight & Height Restrictions 

First and foremost, your car seat label should come with weight limits and height limits for the specific car seat alongside how many years of age your child should be. This is very important when determining if the car seat will work for your kiddo. It’s also helpful when determining if your little one is ready to change car seats.

You can typically find this information on a sticker attached to the back or side of your car seat.

Manufacture & Expiration Date

This is called the tracking label. It will include all manufacturer information including the manufacturer's website, name, address, phone number, model and/or model number, date of manufacture and serial number. This will be helpful when registering your car seat and checking any recall information. 

Another important part of this car seat label is the expiration date (AKA ‘Do Not Use After’). This is an important note to keep in mind before purchasing; You want to make sure that you’re not using an expired car seat and that you’re getting as much time out of your specific car seat as possible. If you do not see an expiration date on your tracking label, you can find out how many years your seat is good for in the car seat manual. 

Installation Instructions 

Every car seat should also include an outline of basic installation information. This will include baseline information on how to correctly install the car seat, as well as where important installation features are located—such as seat belt pathways and lower anchor pathways. 

Depending on your car seat, there may also be accompanying car seat labels showing you how to use different parts of the car seat like the shoulder belt, lap belt, latch system, harness straps, chest clip and top tether systems. While these sticker labels are helpful, it’s best to look over your car seat and vehicle manual for in-depth instructions to make sure your child restraint is correct and protected from serious injury.

Level Indicator 

Level indicators can be found on the base or side of your car seat. Some stick out like a bubble (and are called bubble level indicators) while others are just a colored line. They are used to ensure your car seat is level and reclined properly. 

If you have a bubble level indicator, your car seat will be level when the bubble on the level indicator is between the level lines. If you have a colored line, you can ensure your car seat is level by positioning the car seat so that the level line is level with the ground. 

For more information on where and how to do this for your specific car seat, review the manufacturer's instructions located in the car seat manual. 

Safety Standards, Registration and Aircraft Use 

As the name suggests, this car seat label will cover any safety standards and registration information for your specific car seat. It will also include information about aircraft use including whether it can be used on an aircraft and how exactly to use it. Not all car seats will have this feature, but if yours does, you can typically find it in red on the side of your car seat.

Other Car Seat Labels to Look Out For 

On top of the car seat labels mentioned above, there are several other car seat labels you should see before purchasing your car seat to ensure car seat safety: 

  • NHTSA Warning Label 

  • Airbag label (all rear-facing car seats) 

  • Harness warning label (all infant car seats)

If the car seat you’re buying does not display the info above or the label has been removed, then it likely isn’t compliant with federal safety standards and you shouldn’t buy it. 

Also, be on the lookout for any counterfeit products by noticing if anything looks off on the car seat labels. If a product is counterfeit, you may notice: 

  • Misspelled or unrecognizable brand name 

  • Label not primarily in English (if it has English and another language that is OK) 

  • Non-US telephone number 

  • Incorrect grammar and spelling 

    How to Register Your Car Seat 

    Using information from the tracking label with all of the manufacturer information, you can (and should) register your car seat. Registering your car seat ensures that you’re notified of any future recalls. 

    To register your car seat, visit your car seat manufacturer’s website. You can check for any current recalls, by entering your car seat brand name or model here

    For more car seat safety information and resources, check out our other guides: 



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