The Next Stage
A common misconception is that once a child outgrows the forward-facing child safety seat, he or she is ready for a seat belt. Seat belts were designed with an adult male in mind and can be dangerous for small children. The lap belt can ride up on a child's abdomen and cause abdominal injury, and shoulder belts can cut into the neck. Instead, use a booster seat to help properly position the seat belt on your child. Make sure the booster allows the lap portion of the belt to stay low across your child's hips and upper thighs, and that the shoulder belt is positioned across the sternum and collarbone.
Your child may ride in a lap-and-shoulder belt when the belt fits properly. Proper fit means your child is able to sit with his or her back against the vehicle seat and knees bending at the edge of the seat without needing to slouch. The lap portion of the belt should remain low across the hips and upper thighs, and the shoulder portion of the belt should remain across the sternum and collarbone for the entire trip.
Visit www.nhtsa.gov for a list of certified child safety seat technicians to help with installation. You are now on the road to ensuring that your child's journey is a safe one!