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Video:How to Install a Booster Seat

with Lorrie From Safe Kids USA

Booster seats are only safe and effective if you are using them correctly with your child. See how to properly install a booster seat for your child's safety and comfort.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Install a Booster Seat

Hi, I’m Lorrie with Safe Kids USA. I’m the technical advisor there, with About.com, to show parents how to properly install their car seats. And we’re going to show you how a booster seat is used, with one that has a back on it and one that is backless.

High Back Booster Seats

Now we’re going to look at a high back booster. This is used for children who’ve outgrown their harnesses. And, generally, kids do that any time between the ages of 6 and 8. But sometimes kids need this up until the time they’re 12 years old so you really have to weigh and measure your child each time to be sure that they’re ready to come out of the car seat and into the booster seat.

Car Seat Weight Limits

Most children will outgrow their convertible car seats anywhere between 40 and 80 pounds, and once they outgrow the harness on the seat that you have, it may be time to move them into the booster seat. I just want to caution you that some children will outgrow a harness at 40 pounds. If you have a very heavy 2 year old, you’d want to move to a seat that has a very high weight harness and delay going into the booster seat for another year or two until the child is mature enough to handle just using a seat belt. A lot of parents like to move their child into this type of seat much too soon because it seems easier than the other type of car seat. And, indeed it is.

Seat Belt Placement in High Back Booster Seats

We’re just going to take our seatbelt and put it across the child down here at the belt path. We don’t want belts to be twisted. We want it to be nice and flat and have it lay on the child. And then what we’re going to do is adjust it into a shoulder belt guide up here at the child’s shoulder to make sure that is stays rested at the child’s shoulder.

So they should be getting positioned at the shoulder and the hips, making sure that this belt stays midway between the actual shoulder bone and the collar. And, this belt needs to be low on the hips or high on the thighs making sure that the child doesn’t have it up on their tummy.

Using the Seat Belt Guides

There are little guides. You’ll see them on either side, depending on which side of the car you use to put your seat in. And you feed your shoulder belt through any of these to make sure that it’s in the right position to hold your child’s belt securely on the shoulder. Not on his neck, not across his face, resting completely on the shoulder for the best possible fit.

For younger children, many parents prefer these high back boosters because kids still like to fall asleep in the car and this does provide a place for the child to rest his head and fall asleep.

Backless Booster Seats

So, this is another option for a booster seat. Often times used for those older kids who don’t want their friends to know that they’re sitting on a booster seat or who just prefer using the head rest or the head restraint from the back of the vehicle seat. And so we want to make sure that the child who sits in this is firmly positioned in the seat, with their back up against the seat cushion.

Seat Belt Placement in Backless Booster Seats

Now we’re going to buckle this one in, putting both belts, the shoulder belt and the lap belt, under this little arm. So that this will be positioned across the child’s torso, and coming up across him so that this will rest on his shoulder.

Now, in some cars this angle may be a little off and the car seat manufacturer provides this little seat belt guide that actually adjusts the belt and brings it down so that it can be adjusted to the child’s height. This is how you would adjust it to bring it up or down to adjust to the child’s body.

When To Give Up the Booster Seat?

When is it appropriate to take the child out of this booster seat and just let them ride with the seatbelt. And, we have at safe kids, something called the safety belt fit test. So, we want to make sure that they’re sitting properly. We take the seat belt we put it around them, we buckle it. The knees have to bend at the edge of the seat, so that the child can be comfortable. If their knees don’t bend they’re likely to move forward like this.

The belt may come up into their stomach area that’s dangerous. So, I want the child to sit up and I want to make sure that the belt stays down low on the hips. And goes across the chest resting on the shoulder. We don’t want it on the face or the neck and we don’t want it under the arm. It needs to rest comfortably on the shoulder. If your child doesn’t get a fit like that they need to go back into the booster seat.

Test Child in Different Vehicles

It’s important to test your child in all of the vehicles that they are going to ride in just to be sure that they get a proper fit of the lower lap belt and the upper shoulder belt to make sure that they have the proper fit.

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