I might not want to be in a such a big hurry to graduate my children to their big kid seats.
The Law: Car seat until 4 years old and 40 lbs
Booster seat until 8 years old and 80 lbs
However, this rule doesn't tell us when to go from a booster with a five point harness to a loose seat and the car's seat belt. Here's a question from a newsanchormom.com reader:
Hi Jen. Thank you for the great website that is loaded with useful information for all of us Moms! I have a question about the safety of booster seats. I am not eager to take our 40 lb 4 year old out and into a booster. I have read about the booster seats not being as safe using the car's seat belt and to keep children in the 5 point harness as long as possible. So, I did find a booster that uses a 5 point harness, but it is pricey. So should we spend the extra money on the 5 point booster?
According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, you should keep your child in a five point harness for as long as he/she fits in into it. The NHTSA says to check the weight limit of your high back booster, but most of them go up to 80 pounds.
However, the NHTSA says many kids get too wide or too tall to use a high back booster by the time they reach 65-70 pounds. The NHTSA says to use a booster seat that has a detachable base at this point because the high back boosters with a five point harness tend to sit up too high for the lap belt in a car.
"Another type of seat for a child who is at least one year old and weighs at least 20-30 pounds, is a forward-facing-only seat with a harness. Most of these seats come with a removable harness and are called combination seats or child seat/boosters. Some manufacturers call these seats high back boosters, which is confusing because the term "booster" is generally used to describe a seat that lifts a child up to improve the fit of vehicle lap and shoulder belts......For best protection, use the built in harness until the child outgrows it. "
If you want to know which safety seat is best for your child, you can find the answer by looking through a list of car seat safety questions.
I have an almost 12 month old and I was surprised to learn the NHTSA recommends keeping him rear facing even if he is 20 pounds. The NHTSA says not to turn the child forward facing until he/she outgrows the weight limit that is printed on the seat. The child could be almost two before this happens.