Safety and Injury Prevention

Booster Seats

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What is a booster seat?

Child in booster seat

A booster seat is a car seat without a harness. It raises a child up so the lap and shoulder belt fit right. Children use a booster seat when they are too big for a car seat but not big enough for an adult seat belt. A seat belt that doesn’t fit right won’t protect your child in a crash.

When will my child be ready for a booster seat?

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness until they reach the top height or upper weight limit allowed for that car seat (check the manufacturer’s instructions). Once they outgrow their forward-facing car seat, they can ride in a booster seat. Your child should be at least 40 pounds before they use a booster seat.

In Washington state, it is the law for children to ride in a booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall (57 inches). Most kids will need a booster seat until they are 10 to 12. Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat when possible. 

What kinds of booster seats are there? 

No Back Booster

  • A no-back booster can be used in cars with headrests in the back seat. If your child’s head does not rest comfortably in the headrest to protect their head and neck, then use a high-back booster seat.

High Back Booster

  • A high-back booster can be used in cars with or without headrests.

How do I install a booster seat?

Both kinds of booster seats must be used with a lap and shoulder belt. Never use one with just a lap-only belt. Read the vehicle owner’s manual and the booster seat manual before installing the seat. Boosters are easier to install than other car seats.

Are booster seats needed for short rides?

Yes! Make sure that your child uses their booster seat on every trip. This includes carpools and when using ride share services. Accidents can and do happen on short rides.

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