Transition from Carseat to Booster Seat???

Updated on June 11, 2010
M.S. asks from Newport Beach, CA
16 answers

So, mom's when do you make the transition? I have a 3-year old boy who is 32 lbs and about 38 inches tall. When is it recommended to make the switch to a booster seat?


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answers from Boston on

The britax marathon has the capability to keep the kids in a 5 point harness from 20-65 lbs which is longer than most other carseats. I have my 2 year old in there now. And my 4 yo son is in the britax frontier which also keeps them in a 5 point harness much longer (25-80lbs), then in a booster until 100.
Both kids are very happy with the seats. My son loves the armrests that go up and down and the cupholders. The only con for the frontier is if you have captain seats (I have a toyota sienna) the seat feels like it wiggles a bit where the Marathon feels rock solid when installed. I had the police install both for my so I know it was done right but I'd feel better if I didn't feel as much wiggle with the frontier.

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answers from Austin on

(There was a similar question on 5/25/10)

General rule: Rear facing car seat / infant car seat until 1 year old and 20 lbs. Car seat until 40 lbs. Booster seat until 8 years old and 80 lbs.

Here's a link that says, in California, the child has to be at least 40 lbs before moving to a booster:

(By the way, my daughter is 4 years old, 35 lbs and 39 inches tall... She may be 5 before she's 40 lbs.)

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answers from Sacramento on

He should be in a five point harness until he is at least 4 years old and 40lbs. Then you can make the switch when you want to, but there's no reason to do it before he actually outgrows whatever carseat he's in. Read the information on his carseat. If it can harness beyond 40lbs, leave him harnessed, it's way safer.

My son is in a Nautilus which harnesses to 65lbs. The harnesses are no hassle at all... he can do them himself... but they keep him in a better precrash position than a booster (which he does use when he visits his dad or my parents).


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answers from Grand Rapids on

the best thing is to contact the police department and ask them what the laws are where you live. Every state has different laws, and you want to make sure you follow the laws of your state first and THEN go to the recommendations by the car seat company. Example in michigan an infant has to be rear facing until 1 year AND 20 lbs, but in Illinois, (where i visit often), they only have to be 20 lbs and 6 months.

It is safest to keep them in the 5 point harness as long as possible. If your seat allows your kids to stay in the 5 point, i would do that. i purchased a carseat/booster, that will keep my daughter in the seat until she is 100lbs. And she will be in the 5 point as long as she can use it.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would keep him in a harness as long as you can. Much safer.

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answers from Chicago on

I had my son in a booster seat after he turned 4. I now just moved him back to a 5 point harness car seat. He is more comfortable in his new seat, especially when he falls asleep. is why I won't use the booster seat any more.

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answers from Dallas on

he is BARELY at the manufacturer height/weight recommendation(30lbs and 36inches typically)... but, honestly, he is VERY young and small to make the switch(most car seat safety experts recommend a MINIMUM of 4 years old and 40 lbs). i didn't allow my oldest to ride in a booster until he turned 7! he was in a britax regent until then, which has now been passed down to my 4yo until he is 7. my son is on the tall side for a 7 year old and still had PLENTY of room in the regent. a booster can be absolutely fatal in a rollover collision, i'd wait as long as possible. good luck!

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answers from Seattle on

My tall and big 5.5 year old is in a britax frontier, which will keep her in a five point harness (safest by far!) to 85 lbs then is a belt positioning booster to 100lbs. I think it does start at 40lbs though. Before that and until our youngest needed it, she was in a britax marathon which goes to 65lbs! Google kyledavidmiller for more info on why 5points are safest. We looked at all the seats and tried them at babies r us and used the frequent 20%off coupon or got great deals also at Good luck!



answers from San Diego on

Hi M. according to the post that community care licensing to daycare providers, it says they have to way 40 pounds to use a booster seat, and have to remain in the booster seat until 60 pounds or 6 years. J.



answers from Cincinnati on

It may depend on the state. I believe in Ohio, the child must be a minimum of 40 lbs ans 40".


answers from Rochester on

Usually 40" and 40 pounds, as stated on here. Keep him in as long as possible, but it can become unsafe if his seat doesn't fit. Make sure you check his seat and see if it can accomodate his height. My son was in a belt-positioning booster right around when he turned 3 (he could have switched sooner but the seat was a birthday gift). He was at 39.5 inches and 40 pounds and I was almost kneeling on him to get him buckled with everything dangerously loosened. His doctor says he just has the body of a 4 year old. If your child is too tall but does not meet the weight requirement you might check with your pediatrician and any local car seat check points. He might be too tall to be safe in the shoulder part of the harness, but you want to make sure he is going to be safe weight-wise in a booster. We bought a booster that transitioned not knowing he was already too big for the harness, so just use the belt.


answers from Minneapolis on

A forward facing car seat is outgrown when one of three things happens; the child goes over the weight limit, the ears become level with the seat back, or the shoulders go over the top usable harness slot. Until one of these happens, the child is fine in the harness.

However at 3yrs old, a harness carseat is a MUST. There are many on the market now that will harness a child to age 6 easy for under $150. Please message me if you want more info, but a 3yr olds body (actually any child under age 6's body) is not meant to withstand a collision in only the adult belt and booster. A harness is a MUST.



answers from Oklahoma City on

It may depend on what kind of car you drive. My son went from car seat to booster and then booster to just the regular seat in car sooner than the "recommendations" out there say. I drive a smaller 2 door car and he got too tall if sitting in the back seat, his head was crammed into the roof of the car if he was in the booster. I was at the zoo once and the fire department was there doing car seat checks and proper installs. I asked them and they said take him out of the car seat or booster if his head was touching the roof, safer to sit in regular seat and not be touching the roof of the car.



answers from Detroit on

Wait as long as you can. My daughter is 4 1/2 and still in a 5-point-harness carseat. It is the safest thing you can do for your child, and the bigger seats that the other ladies talk about are really comfy and appropriate to fit kids as the grow.



answers from Dallas on

I would keep your son in his 5 point harness car seat until he outgrows the harness. This is the safest for him, and booster seats aren't rated for anyone under 40 lbs anyway.


answers from New York on

I have read that if his head is above the car seat then it is time for a booster seat. My daughter is 2.5 and weighs 35 lbs and is 36 inches tall. She is very close to the top. My SIL changed her daughter at 2.5 cause she was over the top of the car seat. It also depends on the state laws. In New York they have to be in a booster seat until they are 8 years old. I think it is a bit excessive to be that old in a booster seat. But what do I know? Good Luck

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