How Old Does a Child Have to Be to Sit in a Car Booster Seat?

All children should ride in a car wearing some sort of restraining device. A child age 5 to 9 -- weighing less than 80 lbs. and 4 feet 9 inches or shorter -- requires a booster seat.


A child sitting without a booster seat may be hurt in an accident because the seat belt is not properly placed; booster seats properly position an adult seat belt on a child's body. According to Dr. Arlene Greenspan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, buckling a child into an adult seat belt is also not enough to keep him safe in an accident. She states, "Your child is safest when placed in the back seat and positioned in the middle of the car if possible. All children younger than 13 should sit in the back seat." This includes children riding in booster seats.


The proper use of a booster seat will greatly increase the safety of any child riding in the car 1. Greenspan says when compared with children who only wear adult seat belts, booster seats reduce possibility for injury by 59 percent for children age 4 to 7.

Proper Uses

A booster seat should be used with the vehicle lap and shoulder safety belts at all times 1. The lap belt should rest on the thighs of the child, not on her stomach. Never place the shoulder belt under the child’s arm or have him sit on it because it is uncomfortable.

Safety Education

Children should be taught the importance of using a booster seat. If someone is giving your child a ride, let your child -- and the driver -- know that a booster has to be used correctly at all times.