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Car Seats

Booster Seat YES Test

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​A booster seat provides the best protection for an older child in a sudden stop or crash. An adult seatbelt alone doesn't fit a child's body properly. Without a booster seat, an adult seatbelt rides too high on a child's belly and neck. This can cause serious injuries to a child in a crash. A child is 3 times more likely to be hurt in a crash when using an adult seatbelt alone than when buckled in a booster seat.
Use ​the YES Test to help you decide when your child is ready for a booster seat, and to learn how to use one correctly.

Who should be in a booster seat?

Rear Facing Child Safety Seat With Seat Belt 
  • When your child outgrows their forward-facing car seat with a harness by height or weight, they should move into a booster seat.
  • A child is safest in a booster seat until they reach the maximum height or weight limit of the booster seat. Find these limits on the booster seat's stickers or in the instruction manual.
  • Use a booster seat until the vehicle's lap-shoulder seatbelt fits properly. This is typically when your child is 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall and between 8 and 12 years of age.

Getting ready

If you answer YES to all of these points, your child is safest in a booster seat:

  • My child has reached the manufacturer’s height or weight limit for the forward-facing car seat with a harness.
  • My child is less than 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall.
  • My child weighs more than 18 kg (40 lb.).

Choosing a booster seat

A booster seat can only be used with a lap-shoulder seatbelt. To find the best booster seat for your child, decide where in the back seat your child will sit. Then, check to see if that seat in your vehicle has a head rest (head restraint).​

  • If the seat does not have a head rest, choose a high back booster to give your child head and neck support. Some car seats convert from a forward-facing seat with a harness to a high back booster seat. Some high back booster seats have a head and neck support that can be adjusted as your child grows.
  • If the seat has a head rest, choose a high back booster or a backless booster that has a seat base with arm rests. The backless booster works well in a vehicle seat with a head rest.
Rear Facing Child Safety Seat With Seat Belt High back booster
Rear Facing Child Safety Seat With Seat Belt Backless booster

Using a booster seat correctly

Use the booster seat for every ride. You’re using the booster seat correctly when you can check YES to all of these points:

  • I’ve read the booster seat instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual.
  • The booster seat is in the back seat of the vehicle.
  • The shoulder belt is across the centre of my child's chest and the lap belt is across my child’s hips.
  • I never place my child's booster seat in front of an airbag.

Moving to a seat belt

Your child is safest in a booster seat until they reach the maximum height or weight limit of the booster seat. A child is ready to ride in the vehicle without a booster seat when the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This is typically when a child is 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall and between 8 and 12 years of age.

Children can usually​ use a seatbelt when they are at least 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall because:

  • Their knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat when sitting all the way back
  • The lap belt stays low and snug across the hip bones
  • The shoulder belt crosses the chest and stays between your child's neck and shoulder
  • They can sit like this for the whole trip without slouching
Rear Facing Child Safety Seat Older Toddler  

​​All children under the age of 13 are safest riding in the back seat.

For more information, visit Healthy Par​ents, Healthy Childrenor call Health Link at 811​.

Current as of: April 26, 2023

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services