How to Install a Booster Seat
As you can see, booster seats come in many, many shapes and styles. These include combination seats, high back booster seats, and backless booster seats.
Boosters can be used by kids age 4 through 12, once they’ve outgrown the weight and height limits of their front facing car seats. Front facing car seats with a 5-point harness are safer, though, especially for smaller kids, so please take that into consideration before switching. Child passenger safety law minimum age and weight allowances for booster seat use vary by state. Check out your state page.
The curved sides of high back booster seats provide a level of protection for side impact crashes that backless boosters simply can’t. High back boosters are recommended if the child’s ears (and base of skull) are higher than the vehicle seat back, as this provides some neck protection. If a child’s head can rest on the vehicle seat back, then a backless booster will usually work.
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for the booster seat AND the user’s manual for your vehicle. There will be installation information in both.
Generally, booster seats don’t use the LATCH system. Boosters are not secured to the vehicle at all until a child buckles in. To prevent injury from flying booster seats in the event of a sudden stop or crash, buckle them in when not in use.
SAFETY NOTE: Always use the lap and shoulder belts with a booster seat. Do not use a booster seat in a seating position that does not have a shoulder belt.
A booster seat should rest flat on the vehicle seat. Buckle your child in using the lap and shoulder belts. Boosters often have clips or slots to help with belt positioning. Backless boosters often have a strap with a clip on the end for adjusting the position of the shoulder belt.
The lap belt should rest across the child’s upper legs and hips, not their stomach. The shoulder belt should avoid the child’s face and neck. It should cross at the shoulder and center of chest.
Here are a few links for more information on how to install a booster seat:
SaferCar.gov – Video and instructions for installing booster seats.
SafeKids.org – Booster seat tips and facts.
SaferCar.gov – Seat belt fit tips and when to transition out a booster seat.