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Healthychildren.org posted this article about car seat safety for children from infancy to school-aged. In their article, they recommend booster seats for school aged children, as booster seats are to be used by children whose weight or height has exceeded the limits for forward facing car seats. A booster seat, or "belt-positioning booster seat" should be used to transition from the forward facing car seat to regular seat belt use and is designed for children who have reached a height of 4 feet 9 inches and/or the age of 8-12 years old. The height and weight limits should be included in your car seat's instruction manual, but you can always go by these general guidelines:
The child's shoulders are above the harness slots;
The child's ears reach the top of the seat.
TYPES OF BOOSTER SEATS
The purpose of a booster seat is to lift the child to the lap and shoulder seat belts so the belts fit properly over strong bones. Booster seats may have high-backs or no backs at all. There won't be any harness straps, as the vehicle's seat belts are used in their place. There should be a plastic clip or guide to direct the seat belts in the correct direction. Use the booster seat until the vehicle's seat belts fit the child properly.
The booster seat will usually rest on the vehicle's seat and will be secured once the seat belt is fastened over the child. When using the booster seat, it is important to keep in mind that the lap belt should sit low and fit snuggly across the child's upper thighs while the shoulder belt crosses the middle of the child's chest and shoulder.
ANSWERS TO COMMON QUESTIONS
What if my car only has lap belts in the back seat?
Use a forward facing car seat that has a harness and higher weight limits;
Check to see if shoulder belts can be installed in your vehicle;
Use a travel vest; or
Consider purchasing another car with both lap and shoulder belts in the back seat.
Is there a difference between high back and backless booster seats?
If your vehicle's back seat doesn't have a head rest or if the seat backs are low, a high back booster seat may be more useful.
Backless booster seats are usually less expensive and are easier to transport between vehicles. They can also be used safely in vehicles with head rests and high seat backs.
Both kinds of booster seats will raise your child so the vehicle's seat belts fit the child properly.