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When Should Child Move to Booster Seat?
Q: At what age, height, and weight do you take your child out of a front-facing safety seat and use a booster seat in the car?
A: There are general guidelines that are given for moving a child to a booster seat. In part, it does depend upon what type of car seat you have and on what type of booster seat you're planning to use. There are some car seats that are engineered to continue to support a child appropriately up through 60 pounds and in that case they may be able to go straight from the car seat into a regular seat belt. However, there are some car seats that are generally made for children up to 40 pounds and, at that point, they will usually go into a booster seat in the car. Most booster seats are made for children to start using at 40 pounds.
You really want to make your choice based on the weight and height of your child rather than the specific age. The key feature to keep in mind when you're putting your child into a booster seat is to make sure that the seat belt that you use in the car will still work properly and will fit the child in the proper position if it goes across the shoulder. You should always check the installation and safety guidelines that come with any new car seat, and make sure it is appropriate for your child.
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Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.