Last week we discussed the signs you may need to swap your baby from an infant carseat to a convertible carseat, but what about after that? When your child outgrows the convertible carseat, it’s not time to forgo the carseats all together. Instead, they should transition into a booster carseat. The booster will allow your car’s seatbelt to fit your child’s smaller body properly. So when is it time to switch to a booster? Read on!
When the child meets the minimum height and weight requirements for the specific booster carseat. This will vary depending on the booster you use so please make sure to read your manual to see what your minimums are, however, typically the child should weight at least 40 pounds.
Your child is responsible enough to sit properly in his seat. This is very important as the lack of the 5-point harness give your child a bit more freedom. If your child can’t be trusted to remain seated without leaning over the side (to get toys or touch siblings) or remain buckled, it is too early to switch to the booster. This means even if you child falls asleep, he will need to sit properly!
If the car’s seatbelt fits properly with the booster. The point of the booster is to help the car’s seatbelt fit properly. This means the lap belt should fit low across the hips and the shoulder belt should come across the shoulder. The shoulder belt should never be slung behind the back of the child or under her armpit for comfort–if this is necessary, it is too early for a booster.
When your child is at least 4 years old. While some younger children may “fit” the minimum requirements for the booster, it takes a mature child to use a booster safely. A 5-point harness (in the convertible carseat) distributes any crash forces over a larger area on the body, versus the lap and shoulder belts of your car’s seatbelt. Therefore, it is best to wait longer before putting your child into a booster.