Question: How do I know when my child is big enough to move out of a booster seat and ride with just the seat belt?
Answer: Every child grows at different rates, so the best indication as to when a child can move out of a booster is not age but rather their height. When a child reaches 4’9” they are typically tall enough that they no longer need a booster seat. At that point the seat belt will safely fit them like it does for an adult.
When deciding if your child is ready to move out of a booster seat, do the Safe Kids Safety Belt Fit Test.
1. Have them sit all the way back on the vehicle seat without their booster. Their knees should naturally bend over the front edge of the seat. If they don’t, return to a booster. If they do, move to step 2.
2. Buckle the seat belt. The lap belt should rest on the upper thighs. If it rests on the stomach, return to a booster. If it rests on the thighs, move to step 3.
3. The shoulder belt should rest on the collarbone. If it rests on the neck or face, return to a booster. If it rests on the collarbone, your child is ready to move out of a booster seat.
Usually between the ages of 8 and 12 years old is when most kids graduate out of a booster into a seat belt alone. It is important that you keep your child in a booster as long as they need it. Always remember to follow the age, weight and height recommendations of your booster seat. Visit any of our car seat check events with questions from 4 to 6 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at Aspirus Wausau Hospital or from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month at Yach’s Body & Custom in Rib Mountain.
Michelle Armstrong is coordinator of Safe Kids Wausau Area through Aspirus Wausau Hospital. For more information, email Michelle.firstname.lastname@example.org.