So you’ve made it through the infant car seat stages, travelled rear-facing as long as possible, transitioned to forward-facing and are now wondering when is it safe for my child to ride in a booster seat?”
First of all, awesome question! It’s super important to ask this before you go ahead and decide it’s the right time without properly knowing everything. We know that encouraging your Very Important Passenger to ride safely in their car seat isn’t always easy when all they want is to ride in their big kid booster, but don’t be in a hurry to transition! Younger kids are safer in a 5-point harness so the longer you can keep them in a harnessed car seat the safer they’ll be when traveling. Traveling in a booster before your child is ready can mean that the seat belt won't fit properly which could lead to injury or death.
To help you understand when it’s the right time we caught up with our in-house Child Passenger Safety Technician, Scott and asked, “what are the key things for parents and caregivers to consider before moving their child to a booster seat?”. Here’s what he had to say.
- Your child weighs 40 lbs or more and is at least 4 years old.
- Your child has outgrown the harness weight and/or height limits of their forward-facing car seat.
- Your child has outgrown their car seat but does not fit properly in your vehicle’s seat belt system.
- The seating position that you’ve chosen in your car for the booster seat has a lap/shoulder belt. Lap-only seat belts should never be used with a booster seat because they don’t provide any upper body protection.
- When sitting in a booster seat, your child can sit properly for the whole ride. This means no slouching, leaning or playing with the seat belt.
Just like infant car seats, convertible car seats and all-in-one car seats, your booster seat will have a maximum weight and height limit. Diono recommends that your child travels in their booster until they reach one of those limits. Throughout their journey in a booster seat, you’ll begin to ask yourself “is my child ready for the adult seat belt?”
Here’s what Scott had to say.
“Moving out of a booster seat and into the adult seat belt is a big step, but one that should not be rushed. Seat belts are not designed to fit children, they are designed to fit a male that weighs 165 lbs. Typically, the seat belt won’t fit a child correctly until they are 4’9” tall which is usually between the ages of 8 and 12. The five-step test will determine if your child is ready to ride without a booster:
If you answer “No” to any of the five questions, then your child still needs to ride in a booster seat to be as safe as possible. Since seat belt systems can vary from vehicle to vehicle, you should perform this test with your child every time they ride in a different car.”
So, there you have it, the top two questions on everyone’s lips, answered with a super simple guide to ensure you a safe ride! Graduating into, and out of, a booster is a big step. But remember that after each “graduation” your child takes a step down in the level of safety. Keep your child in a harnessed car seat as long as possible and keep them in a booster seat until they can pass the five-step test.