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When should my child move from a booster seat to a seat belt?

Booster seat

A question I often get fromparents is when their child should move from a booster seat to a seat belt.

Kansas law states that children must be in a booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall, 80 pounds or 8 years of age.

As a safety advocate, I recommend that children meet all three of those requirements. 

Many times we see children moved out of a booster seat before they fit properly into the seat belt. While it can be difficult to explain the importance of staying in a booster seat to an impatient child, we know that if a seat belt does not fit a child correctly, it can have devastating results in a crash.

When moving a child to a seat belt, here are some important safety tips parents should keep in mind:

  • The child should always ride in the back seat and never in front of an air bag.
  • The lap belt should sit low on the hips, not on the stomach.
  • The shoulder belt should always be on the shoulder, not on the neck, under the arm or behind the back.
  • The seat belt should be snug, flat and comfortable.
  • The child’s knees need to be able to bend over the vehicle seat or the child will tend to slide down to be more comfortable.
  • The child may be 8-12 years of age until the seat belt fits.

It might be a good idea for parents to go over these safety tips with your child so they can understand why it’s so important to be buckled up the proper way.

About Ronda Lusk

Ronda Lusk is the Safe Kids Wichita Area coordinator and outreach coordinator for Ascension Via Christi Hospitals in Wichita, Kansas.