Too many children graduate straight from the car seat to a seat belt, skipping the very important booster seat stage. Many children ages 5-8 should be riding in booster seats.
Booster seat use has been shown to reduce the risk of serious injury in a crash by 45% compared to seat belt use alone.
Why a booster seat?
Booster seats protect children who are too big for a car seat but too small for a seat belt. A booster seat helps give your child the “boost” they need to be the same size as an adult with a seat belt. Therefore, the seat belt properly aligns and safely protects your child.
When a seat belt doesn’t properly align on your child, the seat belt can’t effectively protect them.
Is my child ready for a booster seat?
Children are ready for a booster seat when they have outgrown the height and weight limits for their forward facing car seat. Check out the following booster seat safety tips:
- When your child is seated in the booster seat, the lap belt should fit low across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the collarbone.
- Do not place the shoulder belt under your child’s arm or behind their back.
- Booster seats are designed to be used with lap and shoulder belts; never use with just a lap belt.
Is my child ready for a seat belt?
Seat belts don’t fit children properly until they are at least 4’9”. Children typically reach this height between the ages of 8 to 12 years old. Use a booster seat until your child passes the following seat belt fit test:
- Can your child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat and their feet touch the ground?
- Do your child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
- Does the shoulder belt lie across the collarbone and chest, not across the neck or face?
- Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching your child’s upper thighs?
- Can your child stay seated with the seat belt on for the whole trip?
Making sure that your child properly fits into the correct car seat can potentially save their life. Be sure to check with the car manual and booster seat manual for proper fit and installation.
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