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Booster Seat Basics

Securing a small child in a booster seat will literally boost their height and help prevent injuries.

two kids in the back seat, one in a booster seat, picture
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Children should use a booster seat until they're at least 4'9" tall.

Did you know that your car's seatbelts were designed for a 5'9", 172-pound man? As a result, belts can sit improperly on young children and potentially injure them in a crash. To prevent this, secure small children in booster seats, which literally boost their height.

It's time to move your little one from a car seat with its own harness to a belt positioning booster when she reaches the limits of the seat's height and weight requirements. Children should then remain in booster seats until they are at least 4'9" tall. "Parents are often in a hurry to graduate their children to the next step, but that can affect their safety," says Jennifer Ryan, a car-seat safety expert for AAA, noting that boosters reduce injury risk by 45 percent compared with seatbelts alone.

Ryan advises that, before saying good-bye to a booster, parents ensure that their children can sit all the way back against the seat, bend their knees comfortably at the seat's edge, and sit properly for the whole trip. The seatbelt should cross between the neck and arm, then run low along the top of the thighs.

This article was first published in November 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.