Age and Height Requirements for Booster Seats

Safety • Sep 08, 2010

Is your child ready – or has he outgrown – a booster seat?

Did you know that your child should be in a booster seat until he or she is at least 4 foot 9 inches tall?  (That’s about shoulder height on an average sized adult) And they should weigh a minimum of 80 pounds?

Also, your children should NEVER ride in the front seat until they meet these requirements AND are at least 12 years old?? It seems like a lot, but the idea is that car seatbelts are designed for adults, and without booster seats to lift the child into the higher position, the seat belt is more likely to cause some serious bodily injury.

Choosing a Booster Seat

Booster seats are hard to pick. There are so many choices (more than 70 different booster seats on the market) and it can be hard to figure out when to transition to a booster seat, you’re your child outgrows his seat and, worst of all, does the seat even fit in your car.

How old and how tall were your children when you let them out of the booster seat or moved them from the infant seat or convertible seat? If you still have little ones who haven’t made the transition yet, when do you plan to move them?

Recommendations from the Institute of Insurance and Highway Safety

The IIHS (Institute of Insurance and Highway Safety), which does crash tests on cars, also checks out the safety of car seats and booster seats.  The organization recently published a new report on the booster seats commercially available and gave its safety recommendations.

Surprisingly several popular models/manufacturers got poor safety ratings!  Two of the Eddie Bauer models, 3 of the Evenflo models and 2 of the Safety 1st models were “not recommended!”

These recommendations are based on the seat belt fit on the crash test dummy sized like an average 6-year-old.  Ideally, the seatbelt should fit across your child’s hips, not the tummy, and the shoulder belt should fall across the middle of their collarbone, not snuggled up to the neck or out on the tip of the shoulder or the arm.  The seats that got a “not recommended” rating couldn’t be made to fit properly.  The IIHS does go on to say don’t throw your seat out if you have one of these models. Check the fit on your child, after all any booster seat is better than no booster seat!

Get the Proper Fit

St. Louis Children’s Hospital offers a free service to check car seats, booster seats and helmets for proper fit, and offer tips on safe installation. Please call 314.454.6000 to make an appointment at Safety Stop.

Check out the IIHS report for more information about car seat safety and booster seat safety and how to check the proper ‘fit’ for your child.