The Importance of Booster Seats

by Shaun Dreisbach

The Importance of Booster Seats

Why your kid needs to use a booster seat, and how to use it correctly

Is your child a member of the booster club? Hope so! These seats can cut serious injuries by 45%.

That’s according to a new study that analyzed 100,000 crashes. “Booster seats put kids in a position so the shoulder belt can actually do its job,” says lead study author Kristy Arbogast, Ph.D., of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “If it doesn’t fit correctly she’s apt to slip forward in the event of a crash and hit something in the car. We see more brain injuries as a result. The lap belt is also more likely to rise up over her pelvis and into her soft belly, causing internal damage.” Safety experts recommend using a booster until your kid is about 4′ 9″. A few tips to help you maximize their effectiveness:

Make sure the lap belt goes below the armrests (if the seat has them), not above.

For boosters with backs, check that the shoulder belt is routed correctly through the top guide and adjusted to the right height for your child (read the manual!).

Backless boosters were as safe as those with backs in the new study-good news, considering that they’re cheaper (about $20) and less conspicuous for the image-conscious.

Visit to learn whether your child is ready to graduate to a regular belt.