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Is My Child Ready to Switch from Booster to Seatbelt?

  • Wheel Well-Safety

There are many   and parents would be glad to see their child finally migrate from booster seats to buckling up like an adult. However, this should not be rushed into for the sake of convenience. The 5-step seat belt test helps you determine when your child can ride without a booster seat.

Before taking the 5-step test, it’s important to note that there will be variations between different cars’ seats and seat belts and is largely dependent on your child’s height.

Do the car seat 5-point test to determine if your child is ready to move from booster seat to seat belt.

5-point Seat Belt Fit Test

Most children can start to sit in a seat without a booster from between 8 - 12 years old. Sit your child in the car’s seat and follow these steps:

  1. Back against the vehicle seat – Can your child sit with his bottom tucked all the way back into the seat?
  2. Knees bend at the edge of the seat – Does your child’s knees bend naturally at the edge of the seat and their feet touch the floor?
  3. Lap belt low on top of the thighs – Is the lap portion of the seat belt across your child’s upper thighs and hips?
  4. Shoulder belt between shoulder and neck – Does the shoulder portion of the seat belt lay across the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder?
  5. Stay seated – Can your child stay seated in this position for the entire trip?

If the answer to any of these steps is no, then keep your child in a booster seat for a while longer until she or he passes the test. Don’t be tempted to seat your child too early as an ill-fitting seat belt can cause injury in the event of a car crash. Generally, when they reach a height of about 1.5 metres a child will be able to fit most vehicles’ seat belts safely.

Child Car Seat Law in South Africa

  1. Car seats must be appropriate and correctly certified.
  2. Children under 3 must be in a car seat.
  3. Children over 3 must be in a car seat if one is available.
  4. If no car seat is available, the child must sit at the back using a seat belt.

To find the right car seat size for the right age, see our guide to child car seats.

Did you know? Supa Quick is a drop-off point for Wheel Well’s car seat donation initiative. If you have a pre-loved seat your child no longer fits into, you can make a needy family happy. Find out how it works and how you can help.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational or informational purposes only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. Views expressed in this article are of the author and not necessarily the views of Supa Quick.

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