A Complete Guide to Using Booster Seats

A Complete Guide to Using Booster Seats

As parents, we all want our babies to be as safe as possible at all times - even when they’re not actually babies anymore. (Of course, they’ll always be our babies.) But, the fact is, they do grow up and it happens fast! As they grow, one thing that we can always do to ensure their safety is use the correct car seat or booster seat for their height and weight. Transitioning from a forward facing car seat to a booster is a huge milestone! As with any car seat transition, it is a milestone that comes with a great deal of research. So, if you’re here, we applaud you for wanting to learn more about making the switch to a “big kid seat”! Keep reading as we go over a complete guide to using booster seats.

What are the stages of booster seats?

Choosing an appropriate car seat or booster seat for your child can make a world of difference in their safety in those split seconds when it matters most. Nobody wants or plans to get into an accident, but these things do happen. Buckling your child into the correct stage of car seat can literally be life saving. Here are the different stages of car seats: 

  • Rear facing: Infant seats, convertible seats, and all-in-one car seats are different styles of seats that you may use in a rear-facing position. The AAP states that a rear facing car seat should be used until your child meets maximum height and weight requirements for their seat to ensure optimal safety. 
  • Forward facing: Convertible car seats and all-in-one car seats can be used in a forward facing direction once your child exceeds the limits for their rear facing seat. 
  • Booster seat: Once your child has maxed out height and/or weight requirements for their convertible seat, they can graduate to a booster seat! There are different types of booster seats including: 
    • High-back boosters: Designed for use especially with low-seat vehicles or vehicle seats with no headrest, a high-back booster seat offers support for your child’s head. 
    • Backless boosters: For use in vehicle seats that are high enough to meet at least the top of your child’s ears, backless boosters can be an affordable and convenient booster option. 
    • All-in-one: You may also hear these called 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 seats. These seats are designed to convert into different car seat styles to grow with your child. 

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Do 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds need a booster?

Always refer to the manual of your child’s current car seat and intended booster seat before making a transition as these will be the best way to determine height and weight requirements. Car seat consultants can be a great resource if you’re ever unsure. 

That said, most 3, 4, and 5 year olds will still be too small to make the transition to a booster seat. Remember, children should remain in a 5 point harness until they reach the maximum size requirements for their specific seat. 

It is also important to consider your child’s maturity before making the switch. If they can be trusted to not unbuckle their seatbelt and sit properly through the duration of the trip, that can help the decision to make the transition to a booster. 

What weight and height should I get out of my booster seat?

Always refer to the manual written for the exact car seat that you own and use. If you have lost the paper copy that came with your seat, most companies will provide a new copy or have one readily available online. 

Be prepared to get at least a few years of use out of your booster seat. According to the AAP, most children will not outgrow their booster seats until they are between the ages of 8-12. 

What is the correct position for a booster seat?

Booster seats should always be in a forward facing position. Install booster seats in the backseat of your vehicle in a seat that has a working lap and shoulder seatbelt. When buckling your child into their booster seat, ensure that the lap belt is placed flat and underneath the armrests of their booster seat. Also ensure that their back is flat against the seat. 


Should booster seats be behind the driver or passenger?

Unless your vehicle is equipped with any airbags in the backseat, your child’s booster seat is safe behind either the driver or the passenger seats. If you ever doubt the proper installation of your car seat or booster (or if you just want to double check), most police stations, fire stations, and hospitals have car seat experts that can verify that your child’s seat is safe. 


Can a booster seat go in the middle?

When possible, a booster seat should be placed in the center rear vehicle seat. Statistically, the middle back seat is the safest place in a vehicle for any car seat installation due to the fact that a middle seat cannot take direct impact on the event of an accident. 


What is the difference between a booster seat with a back and without?

The difference between a booster seat with a back and one without a back lies in the support offered to the child’s hips, head, neck, and back. A backless booster seat, while convenient, may not offer as much support or protection in the event of an accident. If your child’s booster is being placed in a vehicle seat other than the middle, the headrest may offer protection against the window or other objects in an accident. 



At Dreamland Baby, we take safety just as seriously as you do. Founded by a mother, ensuring safe sleep is our top priority. That’s why we partnered with professionals in the field of sleep, medicine, infant care, and occupational therapy to provide us with their expert guidance and ensure that we continue to deliver safe, effective products that meet the highest quality standards!


  1. https://www.babycenter.com/health/safety-and-childproofing/booster-seats-a-complete-guide_65758
  2. https://www.chiccousa.com/baby-talk/car-seat-roadmap/ 
  3. https://tntrafficsafety.org/sites/default/files/11131b-booster_seat_install_checklist_060116_v2.pdf 
  4. https://www.pedseast.com/blog/posts/2021-guide-to-car-seat-safety#:~:text=If%20you%20can%2C%20put%20the,seriously%20injure%20your%20little%20one
  5. https://thecarseatlady.com/center-or-side/#:~:text=But…..you%20can%20still,installed%20with%20a%20seat%20belt
  6. https://www.fundacionmapfre.org/en/blog/differences-booster-seat-and-child-seat-with-a-backrest/#:~:text=The%20backrest%20offers%20greater%20protection,the%20event%20of%20a%20collision.

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