When is the best time for your child to move from their 5-point harness forward-facing car seat into a booster seat?
Current best practice recommends staying in a harnessed seat until your child grows out of the weight or height requirements of that seat. Legally, all children under 40 lbs. are required to be in a harnessed seat. But this is a basic minimum. A Clek Foonf or Fllo will allow your child to stay in their 5-point harness up to 49" tall or 65 lbs. There are other factors to take into consideration before moving into a booster seat.
Clek recommends considering the following questions before making the move into a booster seat.
If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, and your child meets the requirements for their booster seat, it's time for a transition!
Some families ask, "Do we need a high back booster?" The answer for most children is yes. The belt guide provided by the high back allows the shoulder strap to lay in the ideal place on your child's body. The head rest provides support to your child's head, neck and spine while they're sleeping and in the event of a collision. The lap belt will be guided through the seat portion to lay low across your child's hips, not on their belly. Once your child has excellent body control, maturity, and the shoulder belt is at or above their shoulder, they can use the booster without the high back.
Clek Inc. has a stellar photo series to demonstrate just how seat belts should fit on a child in a booster.
When your child has reached the weight and hight limits of their booster seat, it is time for them to take the 5-step test.
If the answer to any of these questions is no then your child is not yet ready to transition from their booster seat yet. And that's ok! There can be mixed feelings about this from your child, your partner, or maybe friends or family but ensuring your child is safe in a vehicle is a top priority.
If your child easily answers yes to all of the 5-step test questions, it's time to move on from child passenger safety seats! This will be a milestone for your child but every child is different and will come to this transition in their own time.
The very last transition will be knowing when they are ready to sit in the front seat. The biggest consideration for sitting in the front seat is airbag safety. They should be positioned farther back from the airbag locations as their bones and ligaments are not developmentally able to take the energy released by the airbags without serious injury until they are older teens/adults. They must be able to pass the 5-step test in the front seat, and be sure to never let them rest their feet on the dashboard where the airbag is released.
Before you know it they'll be in the drivers seat learning how to drive themselves!
Good luck parents!
For more information, check out the following resources:
Booster Seat by SEATS for Kids
Seat Belt by SEATS for Kids
When to Move From Harness to Booster by Clek Inc.
Booster Car Seat Basics by Clek Inc.
The 5-Step Booster Test by Clek Inc.