It depends on your child’s age, weight, height, the type of vehicle you own and the prevailing law in your state. Regardless of the law, children are not ready to shift from booster seats to seat belts unless they are at least 4’9” tall and qualify the five step test. The age typically falls between 8 and 10. What is special about booster seats to extend the seating as long as possible?
Booster seats are safer than seat belts and protect your child from injuries during a collision. An adult seat belt can cause injury to your child if it is not properly worn. In case, the lap belt falls on your child’s tummy it might cause damage to the liver, spleen and stomach. On the other hand, if the shoulder belt rests on your child’s neck instead of his neck he will tend to move it under his arm or to the back. So there is no protection for any kind of neck, head or spinal injuries that might occur. Check easy moms guide for car seat safety suggestions.
In order to know if your child is ready to travel using the seat belts, you will have to check the fitting of seat belt from time to time. To test further, buckle your child to the back seat without using a booster seat and check the below criteria.
- Does he fully lean on the back seat?
- Are the knees comfortably resting on the edge of the car seat?
- Does the lap belt rest below the tummy and right above the thighs?
- Does the shoulder belt properly center across his shoulder and chest?
- Will he be able to seat this way throughout the journey?
If your answer is no to any of the above questions, your child still requires booster seat for traveling. If your older kid feels embarrassed using booster seat, convince him by highlighting the safety benefits and comfort he would get during the travel. When he is ready to move to seat belt, do not buy add on like seat position device which makes the seat belt less effective.