When Can Kids Sit in A Booster Seat?

When Can Kids Sit in A Booster Seat?

This is an important question which faces all parents with vehicles at some point in time. Using the correct car seat is an important part of keeping a child safe. Deciding when to use a car seat is easy when your baby is born, you can use a car seat straight away. It is trickier to decide when to move your child to a booster seat or when to get rid of the booster seat altogether.

The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to deciding when to move from one seat to another. There is a different answer for every child, and the answer usually depends on age, weight, and size of your child. The only important thing to know is that you should keep your child as safe as possible.

Your question should not be when can my child use a booster seat but when is it safe for my child to use a booster seat. Let’s look at some factors which you will have to look at when you are making your decision.

When Can Kids Sit in A Booster Seat?

When do kids switch to booster seats? When should you transition to a booster seat?

You should only do so when it is safe to do so.

Each time you transition to the next seat up for your child, you are offering them less protection. A booster seat offers less safety than a baby car seat, so you should be in no rush to move up to one unless your child is not safe in a baby car seat any longer.

When you are making your decision, you should always check the local laws to ensure that what you are doing is legal. There may be small differences in when you can move your child to a booster seat and what is legal in one state may not be in another. Your child may be deemed safe in one State, but when you cross State borders, you may be using your booster seat illegally.

In essence, your child is booster seat ready if they have outgrown their forward-facing harness seat. To know when they have outgrown the previous seat, you should check the height and weight limitations of that seat.

If they are within the height and weight for the car seat they are using; then there is no need to move them up. You should also check that they fit into the child weight for the booster seat you are planning on using, the height too.

In many cases, a forward-facing harness seat will be able to be used by a child who is between 40-65 pounds in weight. Once they are above this weight, they should be moved up to a booster seat. Of course, if they are below this weight, then they should be in a different seat when they are travelling in your vehicle.

Seatbelts

when can kids sit in a booster seat?

Kids usually want to move to a seat belt as early as possible - but are they ready for it?

Children are not ready for adult seat belts until they are between 8 and 12 years old, specifically when they reach 4’9” in height. Before that age, they should be in a booster seat which has straps or which positions adult seat belts.

If you let children use adult seatbelts before this height and no booster seat, then they run the risk of injury should you get into an accident or a near miss. The statistics on accidents involving car seat misuse are quite alarming.

The important part when deciding when a toddler can use a booster seat is not skipping any steps. Look for these things when you are deciding when to switch car seats to a booster seat:

  • If your child can’t fit anymore in the internal harness of a booster seat or is above the height limitations, they should move to the next booster seat.
  • If they are within the range of 40-80 pounds, they need a booster seat.
  • If they are between 4-8 years old, they may need a booster seat (or another type of car seat).
  • If your child cannot sit with their back against the seat and bend their knees naturally so that they hang over the seat, then they will need a booster seat.
  • If your child does not fit correctly in the seat and can't wear the seatbelt properly, then a booster seat is needed.

What To Think About When Installing Your Booster Seat

You are using a booster seat to ensure the safety of your child, so you should ensure that the booster seat is installed correctly. 

The first thing that you should do is complete the registration form and return it to the manufacturer. If the seat is recalled for any reason, then you will be notified.

Before you install the seat, you should thoroughly read the installation guide for correct installation and use of the booster seat. If your booster seat repositions the adult seat belt, you should take the time to ensure that the adult seat belt is run through the system correctly. This will ensure the safety of your child.

If you are using a backless booster, always make sure that you only use one if you have a head restraint present on the seat. A booster with a back can be used in a seat which has one or not, but a backless booster needs one to be legal.

The back seat is the safest place for your child so always position your seat there. Never use a booster seat in the front passenger seat. You should also make sure that the seatbelt is used as an adult belt would be. No seatbelt should ever be under their arm or behind your child’s back.

Conclusion 

Safety is key when you are thinking about the next booster seat for your child. If your child has not yet outgrown their current booster seat, then there is no reason to put them in the next size up. When you are moving to the next size up, always check that your seat is legal and that your child is safe.

Robert

Robert is a father of a young daughter and has developed an expertise in child car seat safety. He is a keen supporter of the use of child safety systems having seen his daughter come away from a side impact collision unscathed due to the use of a child car seat. When he's not spending time reviewing child safety systems he works as a Technical Manager on major construction projects.

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