Kids, especially younger ones, are safer in a 5-point harness. Don’t rush to “graduate” your child to a booster seat. If your child still fits in his 5-point harness car seat, leave him there!
If you can answer “Yes” to ALL the statements below, your child is okay to use a booster:
If you are worried that your child might not be ready for a booster, take a look at some combination seats, which start off as 5-point harness car seats and then turn into boosters when the child is older, bigger, and more mature. See Types of Boosters for more information on choosing the right booster for your child.
There is no magic age, height or weight determining whether your child will be safe without a booster. Because a booster corrects poor vehicle seat belt fit, a child should use a booster until the vehicle seat belt fits him properly. This can be anywhere from age 8 to age 13. 50% of all ten year olds still need to use boosters for proper seat belt fit. Unless you can answer “yes” to all the questions below, your child STILL needs a booster in order for the seat belt to fit correctly–regardless of his height, his age, or his weight.
Also, please note that because boosters work in conjunction with the vehicle seat belt and vehicle seat cushion, an older child may need to use a booster in one vehicle but not in others. Make sure to perform the 5-Step Test the first time your older child rides in a new vehicle.
Put your child in the car and have her sit like an adult, without a booster. Buckle the seat belt over her. Now answer these questions:
If you can answer “yes” to every question, your child is okay to ride without a booster. If you answer “no” to any of these questions, your child still needs a booster in order to be safe.