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  • A child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches is required to be fastened in a child safety seat that meets federal safety standards. Under this law, a child cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8, or 4 feet 9 inches tall. It is recommended to keep a child in a booster based on their height rather than their age. Check the instruction book or label of the child safety seat to be sure it is the right seat for your child's weight and height.

  • Children should ride in safety seats with a complete harness system as long as possible. Most seats with a harness fit children up to 40 pounds — there are seats available that reach 50, 65 and 85 pounds, but a tall, thin child may outgrow a "convertible" seat (faces either rearward or forward) before 40 pounds. If the child's shoulders are above the top slots, try a combination child seat/booster with higher strap slots. Typically, the harness may be used up to 40 pounds; then it is removed so the seat can be used as a belt-positioning booster. Most boosters fit up to 80 pounds; some fit up to 100 pounds.

  • Never use a booster with only a lap belt. If your car only has lap belts, use a forward facing car seat with a harness and higher weight limits. For other ideas, visit www.carseatsmadesimple.org.

  • Children under the age of 13 should sit in the back seat of a vehicle.

  • If your child isn't using a booster, try this simple test next time you ride in the car together:

    The Five Step Seat Belt Fit Test:
    • Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
    • Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
    • Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
    • Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
    • Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
    If you answered "no" to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to ride safely in the car. Kids like boosters because they are more comfortable, too!

Safe Kids Worldwide
Minnesota Department of Public Safety,
Office of Traffic Safety