Similar to choosing when you should move your baby from a rear facing to a front facing seat, choosing when to change your child to a booster seat can be confusing and stressful.
Often you will see that booster seats are “recommended” for 4+ year olds and infant car seats for 0-4 year olds. However, this is a very general guideline and you should not use age to judge when your child is ready for a booster seat. Like with a rear facing car seat, the older your child is when you change to a booster seat, the safer it will be for them.
It can also be better for parents to keep their child in an infant car seat for as long as possible. If you have an active four year old, it can be harder to keep them contained in a booster seat and you should not switch them until they are able to sit still and behave in the car.
How to work out when to move your child to a booster seat:
- They can sit still in the car and won’t get out of their seat just because they can.
- They have exceeded the weight limitations for an infant car seat
- They have exceeded the length limitations for an infant car seat.
Many children will still fit into an infant car seat until they are 5 or older. If this is the case for your child, you are lucky! You can keep them in the infant car seat to ensure they are as safe as possible.
If you have a bigger child you will need to consider moving them to a booster seat once they hit the weight and/or length limitations.
What to look for in a booster seat
You are going to want to find the safest booster seat possible. This means you definitely want one with sides and not just a small booster seat for under their bottom. Ideally you want a booster seat that will suit them until they reach a height or length where it is no longer necessary for them to be in a booster seat to be safe in a car.
For these reasons, pick a booster seat with a long lifespan meaning it has a higher upper limit on height and width. You also want to pick one with the highest safety rating you can afford. It also needs to have a good fit with the belt fitting across your child’s shoulders correctly – this site has some great photos to show you what is a good fit and what other safety considerations you should take into account.
All in all, you want to wait as long as possible to move your child in to a booster seat, until they have hit the weight and length limitations of an infant car seat.