Car Safety

Booster Seats: Keeping Bigger Kids Safe On The Road

Once your child has outgrown a forward-facing car seat, do not move him or her into a seatbelt just yet. Children who are too big for a car seat but too small for a seatbelt need a booster seat. Booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 45%, as compared to seatbelts alone.


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    • Children should not be moved into a booster seat until they are at least 4 years old and exceed the height and weight limit for their forward-facing seat. Many forward-facing seats with harnesses can go up to 65 pounds or more.
    • Be clear with anyone who drives your children, that booster seat use is a must when your child is in their car.

    • When your child is in the booster seat, use both the lap belt and the shoulder belt.
      • The lap belt should fit low and tight across the hips.
      • The shoulder belt should fit snug across the shoulders and chest, and stay clear of the neck or face. The shoulder belt should not be placed under the child’s arm, or behind the child’s back.
    • If you can’t get the seatbelt to sit properly, your child may not be ready for a booster seat, and should continue using a car seat.

    • Check the booster seat manual, as well as your car owner’s manual, to find out how to best install the seat, as this can vary from one seat to the next.
    • Make sure the booster seat is in the back seat of the car. All children under the age of 13 should be in the back seat, away from the front seat air bags.

    • Kids need to use a booster seat until they are about 4’9” tall and weigh at least 80 pounds (generally between the ages of 8 and 12).
    • However, before moving your child out of the booster seat, make sure that the seatbelt fits properly. If s/he can meet ALL 3 of the following criteria, it is safe to use the seatbelt alone: 
      • Your children’s knees bend at the edge of the seat when their backs and bottoms are against the back of the seat. 
      •  The lap belt fits low across the upper thighs. 
      •  The shoulder belt fits across the shoulder and chest, staying clear of the neck and face.

Did You Know?

Illustration of a teddy bear strapped in a seat with a seatbelt.

9 out of 10 parents move their child from a booster seat to a seatbelt before the child is big enough.

- Safe Kids Worldwide