When is the best time to move up my 4 year old to a booster seat?

Emalie - posted on 07/11/2012 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My daughter turned 4 in June, but she is only about 35 pounds. She will be 5 by the time she reaches 40 pounds. What do you think is best? Wait till she has met the weight requirements or go by age?

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Shannon - posted on 07/11/2012

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For me, it is a personal decision that I base on a multitude of factors for each individual child. I was a nanny for years before I was a mommy, so I've had dozens of kids in my car during the past 10-12 years. Among the factors in deciding when to move from infant carseat to convertible carseat, from convertible carseat to booster, etc., are: age, weight, height, child's strength/ability and my comfort level. For instance, my oldest daughter (who will be 4 in October) is still in a harnessed booster seat. She is roughly 40 inches and 36 lbs. Although she is nearly big enough, she is neither comfortable in a belted booster, nor is she ready physically or mentally for handling the belted booster. She is a little hesitant to do away with the harness and is not capable of belting herself quite yet. So, I personally see no reason to switch just yet. On the other hand, I can already guess that we will be moving my youngest to a belted booster earlier than her sister. She is only 12 months, so we are still at least 2 years away from that decision, but she is big for her age and physically very strong.

For varying reasons, I've moved kids from carseat to booster, anywhere from their 3rd birthday to closer to 4.5 years old. One child in particular was over 40 lbs. at 3 years old and very capable and ready to handle the belted booster. She did very well with the switch and we never looked back. Her brother was another story. At age 3, he was already over 45 lbs. and 44 inches tall. We tried the booster and it was a disaster! He wasn't comfortable, since he often fell asleep on car rides and the booster didn't offer him as much cradling support as his carseat had. Also, he hated having the seatbelt across his chest/neck. He was always frustrated in trying to help buckle himself and we found out later that he has a decrease in fine motor function in his hands. After a month, we moved him back into his carseat, where he stayed for another year. By that point, he embraced the booster!!

Jodi - posted on 07/11/2012

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I'd leave her in her current seat for as long as she fits in it. I didn't put my daughter in a booster until she was 6 (she is quite small). You shouldn't base it on their age, but their size. The age limit is merely a minimum.

Lindsay - posted on 07/11/2012

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When it comes to deciding things like this, I personally always go with weight. Because every child is different their weight is usually a better deciding factor than age. She may be old enough, but she does not weigh enough and its always better to be safe than sorry.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 07/11/2012

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I didn't go by weight requirements because my older daughter is very tall. But to be safe check your state or provinces' rules on height and weight requirements. My older daughter is almost 8 and over 4 ft tall, but she still needs to be in a booster seat because of her weight and height and the rules here in BC.

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Emalie - posted on 07/12/2012

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Thank you all! I will most likely wait until her weight climbs up a bit, but she is tall and really wanting to be a big girl and get into the booster. But safety comes first :)

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