My child just turned 8 years old. He doesn't need to use a booster anymore, right?
Questions & Answers
Although your child is 8 years old, he is not tall enough to be out of a booster. A child needs to remain in a booster seat until a seat belt fits properly without the assistance of a booster, which is around 4 feet 9 inches. The purpose of a booster is to help position/raise a child so that the seat belt fits appropriately. If a backless booster comes with a separate shoulder belt positioning strap, use it to help with the proper adjustment of the shoulder belt. High back boosters have a factory installed positioning guide built onto the side of the booster to adjust up or down based on your child's height. Be sure to use it for proper fit.
To determine whether your child is big enough to no longer use a booster, be sure you have him/her take The Safety Belt Fit Test. If he/she doesn't pass all the steps, it's not a big deal. Just be sure they continue using a booster with the seat belt, and retest in a couple months.
Are boosters necessary for traveling short distances?
If a child meets the requirements to use a booster, then he/she needs to be in a booster at all times while driving in a car, even if you're going around the corner to drop your child off at school or a friend's house, or to pick up groceries at the local store.
Sometimes when I'm driving a lot of kids around (for example carpooling to a birthday party), I don't have enough boosters for everyone. It's not a problem since it only happens occasionally, right?
If a child needs a booster at any time, then he/she needs a booster ALL the time. If you don't have enough boosters, never hesitate to borrow one from the families you are carpooling with. In fact, according to Utah's laws, if all the children in the carpool cannot be properly restrained, then they shouldn't be in the car.
I have a 4-year-old son who weighs 33 lbs. I recently switched him to a booster because he is now 4. He still fits into his forward facing 5-point harness car seat, but I switched him anyway. Is that OK?
In this case, the child is 33 pounds and has not outgrown his harness in the car seat even though he is 4 years old. He can and should continue using his existing 5-point harness car seat until it is outgrown. His harness may cover him until he weighs 40, 60 or even 80 pounds, depending upon the limits for his specific car seat. Parents should always check their child's harnessed car seat to learn what the upper limits are for that particular seat. Do not rush to remove a child from the harnessed car seat into the booster seat just because he turns 4. The harness and car seat shell afford a child much more protection as long as it is not outgrown. Signs that a child has outgrown his forward facing harness car seat include: Surpassing the height or weight requirement for the seat, the ears have reached the top of the seat, and/or the child's shoulders are above the top harness slots. When a parent notices any of these things, it is necessary to obtain a new, properly fitting seat.
Where can I go to have someone determine if my child fits in a booster?
There are more than 34,000 certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians throughout the country who can help. These qualified individuals can assess your individual situation - whether you have an infant or an older child - and help guide you. It's always best to bring your child and the car seat/booster when you see the technician to evaluate the fit and decide what steps to take. Remember to also bring your car seat instruction book and the vehicle owner's manual to the inspection.
Is a child's weight the only determining factor for when a child doesn't need a booster anymore?
Actually, the height of the child is the most important factor in determining whether the child has outgrown the need for a booster seat. When a child reaches approximately 4' 9" tall, the adult safety belt should fit properly.
How do I know which type of booster to buy? (High back, base, etc.)
There are several factors to consider when purchasing a booster seat. If your vehicle has a head restraint (head rest) in the seating position where the booster seat will be placed, you can use either a backless or no back booster. Never place a child in a backless booster if there is not a head restraint because there is no protection for the head and neck for a child that is "boosted" up.
Are there boosters that I can use with just a lap belt?
No, boosters need both lap and shoulder belts but there are special restraints available that can be used with only lap belts, such as harness or higher harness weight child safety seats.
If you have questions that aren't answered here, contact Primary Children's Medical Center's passenger safety hotline at 801-662-CARS or email the Utah Highway Safety Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.