Fit & Comfort

Booster Basics

Girl putting on seat belt on booster

It seems like only yesterday your little bundle of joy was snuggled in their infant car seat, coming home for the first time. Now they’re going on their own adventures, learning about the world, and officially too old for “baby stuff." But big kids still need protection while in the car, and that’s why learning about harness-2-boosters and belt-positioning boosters is so important.

To Boost or not to Boost?

Belt-positioning boosters are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing harnessed seat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is best for children to continue to use a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether in the back seat until the child has reached the maximum height and weight of the forward-facing harnessed car seat. Harnessed seats have an internal 5-point harness system that is used to restrain the child. Booster seats differ from a harnessed car seat in that a booster seat, by definition, ‘boosts’ the child up so that the vehicle seat belt is positioned correctly across the child’s hips and shoulder/middle of the chest. Booster seats rely on the vehicle seat belts to hold both the child and the booster seat in position.

Belt-Positioning Booster vs Harness-2-Booster

Belt-Positioning Boosters are designed to “boost” the child up so that the vehicle seat belt is positioned correctly. The Britax Highpoint safeguards your child with 3 layers of side impact protection and an impact-absorbing base, as well as a SecureGuard Clip that ensures the vehicle seat belt is properly positioned on your child’s hips. It easily converts from a high back booster to a backless booster when your child is ready. (48 lbs. to 120 lbs.)

Combination Harness-2-Boosters have an internal harness system used to restrain the child in the event of an accident. The 5-point harness provides a much safer ride for children who are not yet big enough to use the vehicle’s seat-belt with a full booster. In addition, the harness in a combination harness-2-booster has a higher seated shoulder height than a traditional forward-facing seat such as a convertible.

The advantage of a Britax combination harness-2-booster is that it offers two seating modes: harness mode for smaller children from 25 lbs. to 65 lbs.; and high-back booster mode once your big kid is ready to make the transition.

How to Tell if it’s Time to Move Up

How can you tell that your child is ready to move on from their forward-facing car seat into a belt-positioning booster? Here are a few things to look for:

  • Your child has reached the top weight or height allowed for their convertible car seat with a harness. (These limits are listed on the seat and also included in the user guide.)
  • Your child’s shoulders are above the top harness slots in their forward-facing seat.
  • Your child’s ears have reached the top of their forward-facing seat.
  • If your kid is a wiggle worm or frequently sleeps in the car, a booster may not be an appropriate choice just yet.

When to Switch to a Vehicle Seat Belt

Britax recommends that you continue to use a car seat to the upper limits of its recommended use, or until your child can fit properly in the adult seat belt.

To be able to fit an adult seat belt, a child must:

  • Be tall enough to sit without slouching
  • Keep his/her back and buttocks against the vehicle seatback
  • Keep his/her knees completely bent over the front edge of the vehicle seat
  • Keep his/her feet flat on the floor
  • Be able to stay comfortably seated this way, AND
  • The vehicle seat belt must be positioned correctly across the child's hips and shoulder/middle of the chest.

Check your state/province laws for additional guidance on car seat and booster use. We recommend that you follow the laws of your state/province as the minimum requirements for restraining your child while traveling.

Follow these guidelines and your big kid will be safe for all of their big adventures!

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