Car Booster Seats (Infant/Toddler, Child)

Upgrading to booster seats

Using the right safety car seat can often prevent injuries to children during car accidents. As children grow, the type of car seat they need will change. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have guidelines to help you find the right car seat for your child. Also, look at the owner’s manual of your car seat or the one you are considering buying.

Use these recommendations:

Birth to 1 year old:

Always use a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.

1 - 3 years old:

Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat for as long as possible. That means until they reach the top weight or height allowed by their seat. Check your safety seat instructions. Most convertible safety seats have height and weight limits that will allow children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.

4 - 7 years old:

Use a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by the car seat’s maker. When your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, switch to a booster seat. This seat still should be in the back seat.

8 - 12 years old:

Use a booster seat until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt correctly. For a seat belt to fit correctly the lap belt must be snug across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest. It should not cross the neck or face. Remember: Your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer.

To use a booster seat safely

Children who are taller or weigh more than the limit for a forward-facing car seat should switch to a belt-positioning booster seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's important to check your car seat owner’s manual for the seat's height or weight limit. Booster seats raise up a child so the car’s seat belt fits correctly. There are 2 types of booster seats. One type has a back. The other does not. Both can be used safely. To use a booster seat safely:

  • Use the lap belt and shoulder belt every time your child rides in the booster seat. Never put the shoulder belt under the child’s arm or behind his or her back. This can lead to severe internal injury.

  • Never use a booster seat if only a lap belt is available.

  • Check that your child uses a booster seat even when riding in someone else’s vehicle. Have every person who drives your child use the correct booster seat or car seat belt. This needs to occur for every trip every time. Being consist is part of good parenting. It's safest for your child and reduces children's complaints.

  • If the vehicle’s seat has no headrest, check that the booster seat has a high back.

  • Let your child help choose the booster seat. This can help make him or her more willing to use the seat.

Teaching your child to be safe

As your child gets older and rides in cars with other drivers, it's even more important for him or her to understand car safety rules. To keep your child safe:

  • Explain to your child that a booster seat will help keep him or her safe in a car crash.

  • Check that your child understands that he or she must use a booster seat in every vehicle, every time. No exceptions.

  • Have older children help set an example for younger kids by buckling up.

  • Don’t forget that your child learns by watching adults, so use your seat belt every time.

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