Step 3: Booster Seats

Children can use a booster seat when they have outgrown the weight or height limit of their forward-facing harnesses, which will be between 40 and 65 pounds. Children at this stage are not yet ready for adult safety belts and should use belt-positioning booster seats until they are at least 4’9″ and between 8 and 12 years old. Safety belts are designed for 165-pound male adults, so it’s no wonder that research shows poorly fitting adult belts can injure children.

 

Booster Seat Wrong Versus Right

 

FAQ:  When is my child ready for a booster seat?

Installation tips

  • Belt-positioning booster seats should always be installed in the back seat of your vehicle.
  • Always use a lap/shoulder belt with your booster seat, and never a lap belt alone.
  • Place the booster seat on your vehicle seat.
  • Buckle the lap/shoulder safety belt around your child and the belt-positioning booster seat. Be sure to place the safety belt through the belt guides to help keep it positioned properly on your child.
  • The lap belt should be positioned low and tight across your child’s hips and upper thighs, not across the abdomen.
  • The shoulder belt should cross the chest and shoulder, across the sternum and collarbone.
  • Do not use any aftermarket accessories, such as mirrors and metal roller shades, and secure loose items such as purses, briefcases, toys and umbrellas, because these items could cause injury in a crash or sudden stop.

What types of injuries could occur if the safety belt doesn’t fit properly?

Out-of-position lap belts can cause serious injuries to the liver, spleen or intestines. Additionally, as a child’s upper body jack-knifes over a high-riding lap belt, the spine may pivot and fracture, resulting in paralysis.