When to Put Child in Booster Seat?

Updated on February 09, 2013
H.C. asks from Olathe, KS
18 answers


I have an almost 6 year old who is still in her Britax Boulevard car seat. It goes up to 65 pounds and she is only 36 pounds. We are thinking about getting a booster for her (probably with a back). She has been asking for one for a while because all of her friends are in backless booster seats. At what age did you put yours in a booster? Can you recommend one?


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answers from Seattle on

I would also wait until she outgrows it. You paid good money for that seat and it keeps her safer than a booster, especially since she is so tiny - why would you get her a new seat just to feel like a "big kid"? That really should not be a primary concern for choosing a car seat.

My 5 year old switched to a high back booster in DH's car when she hit 40 pounds, the limit of the convertible we had in that car. In my car she is still in her convertible that goes up to 65 pounds. I can tell that we probably only have 6 months left in it as she is reaching the height limit... But I will keep her in that seat as long as I can.
Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

She's petite, so she'll be in a five point harness for awhile. There are boosters with backs and five-point harness straps that can later convert to just a booster seat once she's over forty pounds.

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answers from Portland on

My son is around 43 pounds and wants a booster too. He's in our Britax Marathon.. and will be for a long time. He doesn't get to make this decision.

Everything I have read suggests that children should move into a booster only when they have literally outgrown the capacity of the forward-facing car seat, not before.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would keep her in the Britax until she outgrows it. What is imporant is not what all her friends are riding in. What is important is what will keep her the safest in a crash. A 36 lbs 6 year old needs all the extra support she can get in a carseat. The Britax will protect her much better.

My 3.5 yr old is 39 lbs, but I am still not putting him in a booster, unless it has a 5 pt harness.

My 6 yr old is 60 lbs, and he is in a belt-positioning booster (with a back), but only because we don't have a 5 pt seat that can fit him.

Here's a phrase that I repeat to my son ad nauseam when he's comparing our rules with that of his friends: "Honey, everyone's families make different decisions and rules for their kids. Daddy and I decided that X is better for our kids, so that is our rule."

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

We did at 7, but never before 40 lbs.

36 lbs? No, she is below the bare minimum of 40 lbs.

We plan to use the kind with the back until outgrown, and my kids will stay in boosters until 10 to 12 years old, whenever they fit the adult belt.

Don't feel the need to rush things because of what her friends do. If you are in an accident you can never go back and change things. She is safe in a harness that fits properly. Make sure the straps are ABOVE her shoulders or it's outgrown.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I put mydaughter in at 6 1/2, I think. She's tiny, too. At 8 1/2 she's only 47 lbs. Honestly, the longer you keep her in it, the better. But, if you want to transition to a booster, I second the graco high backed. I used that for about a year before going to just the base-I feel it gives a little more protection. I know she wants to be a "big girl" in the backless, but (and sorry to be harsh, but we got in a car accident a few months ago) would you rather have a child who is embarassed, but alive and unhurt, or one you made happy and is now injured or worse?

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answers from Seattle on

I would keep her in her seat as she is. She's safest in a seat at her age, height and weight. She's too small for a booster seat. My 6 year old is still in his 5 point seat and will be until he outgrows that capacity. I realize she's asking for a seat because all of her friends have one but I'm sure you can tell her that she's safest the way she is; there's no sense in sacrificing safety.

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answers from Tulsa on

I also have very tiny girls like yours. My nine year old only weighs 45 pounds. We moved her to a booster when she hit 40 pounds and not a day before--she was 7 1/2 years old. Our 6 (almost 7) year old who weighs about 42 pounds is still in her 5 point harness because she still fits in it (and she is asking to move too--I just keep telling her not yet). I would keep her in the 5 point harness until she hits 40 pounds for sure and then even longer if she can.

HOWEVER, you need to check the HEIGHT requirement of your Boulevard. Height is just as important as weight. The place where the straps come out of the car seat should be above her shoulders and not below.

And when it comes time for her to move out of the booster into the adult seat it is the height that matters most. I once heard a report where they actually stated--"we would ALL [adults included] be safer in a 5 point harness". We need to keep our chidlren in a seat that fits them and is the safest for them as long as possible! I know that it is very inconvenient and it is hard when all their friends are moving on but it is your job to keep her safe and this is probably a good time to teach a lesson on peer pressure and we don't always do what everyone does.

I do applaud you for keeping her in her 5 point harness for this long. So many people just automatically move them when they hit three or four years old. I looke at it this way--if we ever were in an accident and something did happen would I be left feeling guilty and wondering what I should have done different? I do not want to live with that kind of guilt so I keep them in their 5 point harness and boosters as long as possible.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

Too small. I have a seven year old...almost 8...who's 42 pounds and I won't make the switch. He fits into and is more safe in the 5 pt harness. This can be the first of 'I don't care what your friends do....I'm doing what is legal and safer for you.'

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think most states the law for a booster with just the seatbelt is 4 and 40lbs, so you daughter isn't big enough for the seatbelt. If it's really a problem, get her a booster with the 5 pt. harness that she needs that converts to one with a seatbelt.

My daughter at 4 can tell you that different mommies have different rules and she needs to listen to her mommy.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My son is 7 and he is still in his car seat. It goes up to 65 lbs and he is 55 lbs and 48 inches. We will put him in a booster when he outgrows his carseat. When we fly and rent a car or visit family, we do travel with a backless booster. Our car seat weighs 28 lbs and is simply impractical. Before we had this seat (up until DS was 40 lbs, probably age 5) we traveled with our regular car seat and never used a booster. Five point restraint is simply safer than a booster.

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answers from New York on

They have high back boosters that have 5 point harnesss that can be converted. I would use one of those. She is six and I am sure feels like a baby in carseat. I have a Cosco booster with five point harness.

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answers from Augusta on

My kids were in boosters by 4. I'd recommend the Graco High Back booster with the detachable back so it converts over when she gets too tall for the back.

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answers from Topeka on

40 lbs age 4-7 with weight and height requirements oh seen your from Ks we have the same laws.Google safekids if I remeber correctly this is the site for buckle up laws in Kansas.

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answers from Los Angeles on

For her safety she needs to remain where she is until she meets the height and weight requirements for a booster, and it's the law. Just explain it's not your or her choice to make. My guy is not quite 4 years and 38 pounds, he wants one, too, but I keep telling him he needs to weigh 2 more pounds. Not sure he understands completely, but he knows I have no choice.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Where I live the law is 40 lbs. I have a ten year old who still has to sit in a booster because he is small. Poor guy is sooo embarrassed...


answers from Rochester on

I'm fairly certain we put our oldest in a booster at 3 years old, but she had fully outgrown her carseat! She was probably at LEAST 40-45 pounds by then, and when she was 6 she weighed 60 pounds! She isn't large, either, so that makes me think you have a super petite little munchkin. ;) Even my 2 year old, who is by NO means a large child, weighs 30 pounds and is outgrowing her car seat.

I think you're safe to move her to a booster, since (at least where I live, in MN) when they turn 8 they don't have to sit in any sort of special seat anymore. However, if she's also really short (less than four feet tall?) I might leave her in the car seat for safety and just tell her she's been very blessed to still be able to fit her carseat because it's safer!

**After reading others, I think you definitely should leave her in her car seat. Sounds like it might be the law, besides. And now I'm wondering why my kids are such giants...my 7 year old weighs 68 pounds!!



answers from Spokane on

we moved my daughter to her booster at 3. she is 5 now and still uses a booster or sometimes a 5 point harness. she doesnt care what she uses because she rides the bus to school so she doesnt see what her friends use in their cars. even though if she were to ask me i would just tell her that i feel better with her riding in the car seat because its safer for her if we got into an accident.

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