When Is a Booster Appropriate?

Updated on August 11, 2009
J.B. asks from Buford, GA
10 answers

I have a 3 year old, she meets the manufacturer requirements for a booster seat, but I am unclear as to what the laws are, is she still to young and needs a harness car seat or is she old enough to be in a booster with a shoulder/lap belt?

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answers from Columbia on

She is not yet old enough to be put into a booster....a child of that age must continue to be strapped into a car seat

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answers from Charleston on

Added after 2 new posts: Susanna, there are 3 seats that can now go to 40lbs Rear Facing. Radian carseats September 08 and newer. Graco My ride, Safety First Complete Air. I think there is another but I cant think of it. Did any of you ladies here of the collpesed (sp) parking garage that happened in Atlanta? will if you did or did not, there was 2 Radian carseats in a car, the carseats DID NOT break or bend because they have steel rods in them. The car itself was a pankcake but not the carseats.

A 3yr old is not even close to a booster. I have my 5yr old 40lb 45in child in a Graco Nautilus harness and in a Britax regent. There are many options for a harness seat. Graco My Ride, Safety 1st Complest Air, Britax Blouvard..Roundabout..Marathon, Alapha Omega Elite, First Years True Fit. And many others. I love my Graco Nautilus. very east to install in my 04 passat, 09 Odyssey and my old car 06 Pilot. The Harness and HBB, High Back Booster, is good for 6years. and the no back part is good for 9years. If in an accident the car seat needs to be replaced. the at fault insurance will cover it. Keep in my the 3in1 car seats do not make for the best HBB. a dedicated HBB boster is best. There is a new one out Britax Safe Guard $120. It has an anit submerge clip at the crotch to help the child from submerging in an accident. check out Car-seat.org and if you want to Rearface your 3yr old again Joelsjourney.org. My 2yr 10mo old 30lb daugher rides rearfacing. I am a carseat nut and if you need any help please feel free to ask me as I love to help keeps kids safe from other crazy drivers out there.



answers from Macon on

My 3 year old loves her Graco Nautilus that has the 5 point harness. I believe she'll be in the 5 point until 65 pounds at which point she'll move to the shoulder belt in the same seat. Eventually, it's a booster up to 100 pounds. I'm assuming this is the LAST seat I'll need for her. She has no complaints about using the 5 point harness (like her infant seats) and she sleeps well in it too.



answers from Atlanta on

It is definitely best to wait 'til your little one is AT LEAST 4 years old AND 40 lbs. If the current car seat allows for a higher weight limit, I would definitely keep him/her in that chair until it is outgrown. If you need to go to a booster seat, make sure it is a high back booster with a 5-point harness seat belt. Your child would be much safer if in a car accident.

As far as the law goes, Georgia requires children under the age of 6 to ride in an approved car seat or booster seat that is appropriate for their height and weight.

I recently got a Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat and love it! This is the only car seat I have gotten that I can actually say I love. It can be used from 1-6 years of age or 20-100 lbs. My son also loves it because he says it is a very comfortable car seat. He also loves the cubbies that are on both sides of the car seat and his cup holder that is built into the seat. A couple of other moms I have talk to, said that they liked the Graco Nautilus better than the Britax!

There is this website: Little-Safe-One.com and it has info about booster seats. Here's the page about booster seats. http://www.little-safe-one.com/Booster-Car-Seat.html and here is the page about toddler seats http://www.little-safe-one.com/toddler-car-seat.html. I really like this site because it explains things from a mother's perspective.



answers from Atlanta on

My son stayed in a 5 point harness until he started kindergarten. He is 8 1/2 and i still make him use a booster. My daugher is almost 4 and will stay in her 5 point harness until she outgrows it or starts Kindergarten. She only weighs 29 lbs so i doubt she'll be outgrowing it nytime soon!



answers from Atlanta on

Keeping your child in a five-point harness car seat as long as you possibly can is the best way to protect them in a car accident (still the #1 cause of death for children, so it's OK to be a car seat safety nut).

The newest, safest car seats allow you to keep toddlers rear-facing up to 35 pounds and then forward-facing IN A 5-POINT HARNESS up to 80 pounds, and finally in a 3-point booster until they reach 4'9". (Usually they take height and weight into consideration, depending on the manufacturer.) Go with the maximum.

For children under 35 pounds, keeping them rear-facing will make them 5 TIMES more likely to survive a major impact. It's FINE if they have to put their legs up on the seat back or fold them criss-cross applesauce or whatever. It's not as uncomfortable as it would be to an adult. As a surgeon stated: "In a bad accident, it's the difference between a broken leg and a paralyzing neck injury." :-0

The laws vary by state, but state law is an absolute MINIMUM, and has nothing to do with best practices.

Just last month, I was about to purchase a booster seat, but I ran across the Kyle David Miller Foundation site, created by a mother whose 3-year-old son died in a rollover accident. (Seat belts are more likely to fail in a rollover accident. When the seat belt came undone on her son's booster seat, he came out of the seat and out of the window. He was over 40 pounds and they had everything legal and installed correctly. But it was a major impact.)

I ended up getting a 5-point harness seat for my 6 year old that he can use until he reaches 80 pounds. (The Radian XT, with steel-reinforced side-impact protection, steel frame, the works. Let me tell ya, this thing feels ROCK SOLID!)
Since I learned so much about car seat safety from that website, I ordered my car seat from their not-for-profit organization, hipmonkey.com, that donates their proceeds to providing safe car seats to families in need. (And I got a 15% discount to boot! No, I'm not affiliated with them, just very grateful!)

To find a car seat that's compatible with your car, check out http://www.carseatdata.org/



answers from Atlanta on

Check out www.carseatdata.org Good luck.



answers from Atlanta on

The rule of thumb is that as long as the child fits well into the harness carseat, leave her there. It's considerably safer. My 5-year-old still fits into her Britax Marathon and uses it most of the time, but we have a booster for when she's in my parents' car.



answers from Savannah on

Some states are 4 years and 40 pounds and some states are different. I would deffinately wait since most kids can get unbuckle a booster but they can't get out of a carseat. I waited until my son was 4 1/2 to make sure he wouldn't unbuckle himself while we were going 55 mph down the road. You should check with the DMV to make sure. Sometimes the local fire dept can tell you ad well.



answers from Atlanta on

I've always found the National Highway Transportation Administration website helpful


It says 4 years and 40 pounds to move to a booster. It also recommends, regardless of state law, that kids remain in a booster until they are 4'9". I know a lot of people who go by a child's age instead of their body size/height and how the seat belt actually fits them.

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