Belt Positioning Booster Seats

Car Seat Basics

A child sitting in a noback booster seat looking out the window.
Older kids should be in a booster until they are ready for seat belts.. Photo by Jessica Lynn Culver/Getty Images

Is your child ready to move into a booster seat?

Is he ready to move out of a booster seat and into regular seat belts?

Are you sure?

Belt Positioning Booster Seats

Booster seats boost your child up, providing a higher sitting height, which allows the adult lap and shoulder belt to fit properly.

Booster seats are used forward facing only and are used without harness straps.

Other things to know about booster seats include that:

  • Kids should sit in a booster seat until they are "old enough and large enough" for seat belts to protect them properly, which usually isn't until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall (57 inches) and are between 8 and 12 years old.
  • According to the latest car seat guidelines, kids can switch to a belt-positioning booster seat when they reach the weight and height harness strap limits of their forward-facing car seat. That usually isn't until kids are around 40 pounds or 5 years old, though, especially since many car seats now have high weight and height limits.
  • Can only be used with the adult lap and shoulder belt.
  • Provides the child a higher sitting height, which allows the adult lap and shoulder belt to fit properly.
  • The shoulder belt should cross the chest, resting snugly on the shoulder, and the lap belt should rest low across the upper thighs. Never up high across the stomach.
  • Styles include high-back, no back, and base only. A high-back booster provides head support not provided by vehicle seats with low backs or no head restraints.
  • The mid-point of the back of the child's head (ear level) should not be above the vehicle seat back cushion or the back of the high back booster.

There are also combination and 3-in-1 seats that can be used as booster seats.

Booster Seat Safety Tips

To keep your kids safe when using a booster seat, make sure that you:

  • Never use a booster seat with only a lap belt.
  • Don't use a backless booster seat if your car seat doesn't have a headrest.

And don't move your child out of a booster seat and into regular seat belts too soon. Remember that regular seat belts are for adults.

Featured Booster Seats:

Prices vary a great deal on these types of seats but remember that the AAP states that you should not "decide by price alone" and that "The best seat is the one that fits your child's size, is correctly installed, fits well in your vehicle, and is used properly every time you drive."

  • Britax Parkway SGL 2013 - can be used to 120 pounds and 63 inches as a high back booster seat
  • Cosco Pronto! - can be used to 100 pounds and 57 inches as a high back booster seat
  • Diono Cambria Booster - can be used to 120 pounds and 63 inches as a high back booster seat
  • Little Tikes No Back Booster - can be used to 120 pounds and 63 inches as a no back booster seat
  • Safe Traffic System Inc Delighter Booster - can be used to 100 pounds and 65 inches as a no back booster seat

    Look for a seat thinking about your child's height and weight and how he is growing. You don't want your child outgrowing a booster seat too soon, so if your child is at the top of the growth charts, consider buying a booster seat with high weight and height limits.

    Sources:

    American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Child Passenger Safety. Pediatrics 2011;127:788-793.

    American Academy of Pediatrics. Car Seats: Product Listing for 2016

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