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Is my child ready to move from a booster seat to just a seat belt?

The data about child booster seat usage doesn't lie. Each year, thousands of children die in car accidents because they were not properly seated in their vehicles. Although most parents wouldn't think twice about letting their young children ride with nothing but their seat belts, research shows that many children below the age of 12 are too small to ride safely without using booster seats. Some states, such as Washington and Oregon, have even passed stringent laws calling for strict booster seat requirements.

Children who are approaching the upper end of the booster seat spectrum may feel embarrassed about using the special seats, which

provide a bridge between using front-facing car seats and regular seat belts. Booster seats serve to raise children up so that seat belts fit properly across their bodies. Without a booster seat, a child who is too small may actually be injured by a seat belt. Although children may rebel against using booster seats as they get older, parents should keep their children in these seats until they're ready to move to seat belts.

This guide can help you determine when the time is right to move your child from a booster seat to a seat belt.

Without a booster seat, can your child sit in the car without slouching?
Can your child sit with his or her back flat against the vehicle seat?
When your child sits without a booster seat, do his or her knees fold naturally over the edge of the seat?
Without a booster seat, does the lap part of the seat belt go across your child's abdomen or upper thighs?
Do your child's feet rest flat on the floor when not using a booster seat?
Does the shoulder belt cross the child's neck or face?