How Do I Know When My Child is Ready for a Booster Seat?
Is your child asking to sit in a booster seat? Are wondering when you will know it is time to safely move them to one? One of the most important things to remember is that there is no rush to move them to a big kid booster seat. So let’s talk about some ways you can know that the right time is now.
The most important thing to remember is that booster seats are only for children who have fully grown out of their forward facing car seat. A booster is for giving your child a boost to be able to be in a position to use the car seatbelts in the correct way--so that the belt sits at the strongest parts of the child's body.
Choosing a booster
There are two main types of booster seats: a backless booster and a high back booster. It is recommended to use a high back booster as long as possible. It helps your child keep a proper sitting position so that the lap belt and shoulder belt are in the correct position. A child who is not sitting in a proper position, such as slouching, can get badly injured because the lap belt is on the tummy instead of the boney part of the hips. The belt being at the tummy can cause internal organ injury if you are ever in an accident. There are a few boosters on the market that have the capabilities to be both.
Height and weight maximums of your current seat
Keeping them in their car seat until they max out of the height and weight restrictions is the best and safest way to ensure it is time to move on. It doesn’t have to be complicated and stressful if you decide to take the safest approach. Find your user manual or access it on your car seat brand's website. When your child has maxed out the weight or height limit of their forward-facing convertible car seat, you can consider that the right time is now. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their recommendations of when to switch to the following:
- The child reaches the top weight or height allowed for in their convertible car seat. (These limits are listed on the seat and also included in the instruction booklet.)
- Their shoulders are above the top harness slots
- Their ears have reached the top of the seat
Is my child mature enough for a booster?
A booster is a big step because it gives your child more freedom in the car. You want to be sure that they will sit in their seat with the seatbelt in the proper place and not move the shoulder strap. Ask yourself or your child if they will be able to sit up and not take their buckle off. Have this discussion with them and emphasize the importance of wearing their seatbelt correctly. Make sure they know that it isn't okay to slouch or lean over, and that you expect them to be responsible now that they have some more freedom in their new seat.
Installing the booster
Just like any other car seat, it's only safe if it is installed properly. When you open your new seat read through the car seat safety manual and the vehicles owner manual. This way you know exactly how to install and use your seat correctly. Come see us at The Baby Cubby and one of our certified CPS techs can help you properly install your booster. A properly installed seat is the most important thing!
It's time and you and your child are ready to find a booster. Consider going into a store, and having your child sit in a few. And remember that your child should remain in a booster until they have met your state's law on age and height recommendations. You can find your state's laws here.
Below is a list of our favorite highly-rated booster seats on babycubby.com:
UPPAbaby ALTA Booster Seat
Britax Skyline 2-Stage Booster
Britax Highpoint 2-Stage Booster
Britax Grow with You ClickTight Plus Harness-2-Booster Seat
Nuna AACE Combination Booster Car Seat
Cybex Solution Z-fix Booster Car Seat