Everything You Need to Know About Belt-Positioning Booster Seats
Welcome to Booster Seats 101 – the one stop shop for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about booster seats! Booster seats are the last stage before your little one is big enough to sit on their own in the vehicle seat with the regular seat belt. Booster seats are forward-facing only for children who have exceeded the height or weight of their 5-point harness car seat – typically when children between 8 and 12 years old. Keep reading for all things about booster seats:
Types of Boosters
1 – Backless Booster Seats. These booster seats raise kids up and provide belt path guides to help the vehicle belt fit better. These are typically used more by older kids who need to be that smidge taller for the belt path to fit correctly. Great for travel because they are so lightweight and compact.
2 – High-back Booster Seats. Much like a backless booster, high-back booster seats raise your child up and provide belt path guides to make the seat belt fit correctly but they also provide more structure and protection for your little one. Children should start out in a high-back booster before moving on to a backless booster once they are older.
3 – Convertible Car Seats. Some convertible car seats go all the way through a belt-positioning booster once your child has outgrown the height/weight limit for the harness. A convertible car seat in booster mode will function as a high-back booster seat and provide the same benefits, all while still being the same seat your big kid has been using since they were tiny!
Does My Child Still Need a Booster?
If you’re thinking it might be time to finally say goodbye to the booster seat, or if your child is insistent that they’re big enough and ‘mom, everybody else doesn’t use a booster seat!’, answer these five questions:
- Does the shoulder portion of the belt lay mid-chest and mid-shoulder on your child?
- Can your child sit with their back flush with the seat back?
- Do your child’s knees bend at the edge of the seat and do their feet reach the floor?
- Is the lap portion of the seat belt across your child’s upper thighs and hips?
- Can your child stay in this position for the entirety of the trip?
Your little one needs to be able to satisfy all five of these questions before they’re ready to graduate from a booster seat. If the answer to any of these questions is no, it’s not their time yet! As always, if you have any questions about when it is safe to stop using a booster seat, consult your pediatrician and your local car seat laws. Some states require booster seats until a certain age, height, or weight.