How to Convert a Car Seat into a Booster Seat?
As your child grows older, their car seat needs to change with them. You may find that your child is both big enough and mature enough to handle sitting in a booster seat. When that time comes, you’ll need to convert your car seat. Read more to learn about how to set up your child’s booster seat.
Is Your Child Ready?
The first priority is ensuring your child is ready to sit in a booster seat. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), a young child under the age of four should usually be in a five-point harness. Five-point harnesses act as a restraint for young, wiggly children who would otherwise move around in the seat quite a bit. The restraint also provides head and neck support for your little one.
Once your child meets the maximum height and weight requirements for your five-point harness car seat, it is time to move them to a booster seat. Usually, booster seats are for children who are least 40 pounds and five years old. A booster seat helps position your child in your vehicle, but it does not restrain them like a five-point harness. So, your child needs to have the maturity to sit in their seat without wiggling around a lot.
See more guidelines on making the transition from the NHTSA.
Does Your Car Seat Convert to a Booster?
Not all car seats convert to a booster seat. If you are unsure whether yours can convert or not, you can look at your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer. Most forward-facing only combination car seats convert to a booster, while most convertible car seats do not. Here are some convertible car seats that convert to a booster: Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One Convertible Car Seat, and Evenflo Chase LX Harnessed Booster.
If your seat is an “all-in-one” car seat, then it will convert to a booster. Examples of all-in-one car seats are: Graco 4Ever 4-in-1, Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat and the Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 Car Seat.
Converting Your Car Seat
Once you are sure that your child is ready for a booster seat and that you have a car seat that can convert to a booster seat, you are ready to make the transition. Every car seat converts a little differently, so you should follow your owner’s manual to ensure you are doing it properly. In general, though, you will:
- Remove the car seat from your vehicle.
- Remove the five-point harness system by taking out all of the car seat’s straps. Usually, the straps are held in place at the back. You will likely just need to pull them out of the slits holding them in place in your car seat.
- Re-install the seat as usual.
- Place your child in the seat and secure them with your vehicle’s seat belts. Some booster seats have seat belt guides. Place your seat belt through the guide if your booster seat has one. Ensure the seat belt goes across their shoulder.
Some booster seats also convert into backless boosters for much older children. Not all booster seats come with this option, so you will need to check. To convert to a backless booster, there may be a release on the seat where you can remove the back. Some seats require you to fold the seat down to allow the back of it to be removed. Converting to a backless booster sometimes also involves removing seat cushions. Make sure that you follow any manufacturer’s instructions during this process.
Check Your Work
The safest car seat or booster seat is one that is installed properly. Once you have your booster seat installed, head to your local hospital or fire station. They usually have someone on staff who can check your seat for free to ensure it is installed properly.
For installation tips and instructions, see more information from the NHTSA.
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