What to know to keep your big kids safe while on the go.
It seems like only yesterday that your little bundle of joy was snuggled into 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 crucial to making the last step on the Birth–to-Big Kid journey a safe one.
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 for as long as possible. If your child outgrows his or her forward-facing seat but is not yet ready to stay seated properly in a belt-positioning booster using the lap and shoulder belt, consider using a Harness-2-Booster for the transition.
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. Unlike some "phonebook" style boosters, the Britax Highpoint (shown) 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.
Combination Harness-2-Boosters have an internal harness system that is used to restrain the child in the event of an accident. The five-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 weight limit in harnessed mode 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 the traditional 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 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 sleeps often in the vehicle, then the booster may not be an appropriate selection just yet.
When To Switch To 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 seat back
- 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!