Booster Seats: What Parents Should Know

2. Why use a booster seat instead of a safety belt?

• Most 40-pound children are not big enough to fit lap and shoulder belts properly.
• A belt that rides up on the tummy could cause serious injury.
• The adult lap and shoulder belt normally does not fit a child until he or she is about four foot nine inches tall and weighs approximately 80 pounds.
• Many young children do not sit still enough or straight enough to keep lap belts low across their thighs.
• Boosters are comfortable for children because they allow their legs to bend normally. This also reduces slouching, one cause of poor lap belt fit.

3. Are there different types of booster seats?

There are three kinds of booster seats:
• Boosters without shields, for use only with the vehicle lap/shoulder belt. Because raising the child improves belt fit, these are called "belt-positioning boosters." Some have a high back that gives head support for taller children. Some boosters of this type are built into vehicle seats.
• Boosters with removable shields. Use without the shield to make lap and shoulder belts fit right. Shield boosters are not currently approved for children weighing over 40 pounds. A child who has outgrown his or her convertible seat yet weighs less than 40 pounds can be moved into a high-back booster with a harness. Once the child reaches 40 pounds, the harness is removed and the seat is used with the adult lap and shoulder belt as a belt-positioning booster.

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