New recommendations about booster seats for children state your child should remain in the back seat, in a five-point-harness car seat until the height and weight limits are out-grown. Then, your child should definitely be in the back seat, in a booster seat until age eight. In general, once your child is eight years old he should be 4 feet 9 inches tall before coming out of the booster seat. This will likely be until age 10 to 12! The front seat is for children who are ages 13 and up.
However, after age eight and before 4’9” tall there may be some car seat belts (in the back seat) that will properly fit your child without a booster seat. There are five steps to determine if the seat belt fits well without a booster:
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the seat of the car (their back and their bottom is up against the back of the seat)?
2. While they are sitting all the way back in the seat do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the car’s seat?
3. Does the shoulder belt come across the collarbone, between the neck and the arm?
4. Is the lap belt low in the lap, touching the thighs?
5. Is this a comfortable position that can last for the whole car ride?
This information originates from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and was printed in the spring 2011 newsletter (Volume XVI, No 1) of the Michigan Chapter of the AAP. Online sources of information can be found at www.facebook.com/childpassengersafety , http://twitter.com/childseatsafety, and www.healthychildren.org/carseatguide.
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