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Ah yes, the age old question for any parent with young children: when can I rid my car of this terrible booster seat safely? Although it is extremely important for children to use booster seats, it doesn’t change the fact that booster seats a true hassle—not only do they take up space, they also are such a pain to install and re-install! So we’re glad you’re here—knowing what age your child can travel without a booster seat isn’t a cut and dry answer, so we’re here to help you navigate through the process of determining when your child can travel without a booster seat once and for all.

In this article, I will include the individual laws and statutes for each state that must be followed in regards to booster seats. These are important to know so that you are traveling legally with your children as they grow up!

I will also include in this article ways to insure that you are traveling safely with your child as state laws and statutes are not always inclusive of this knowledge. See below for an easy 5 step test on how to see if your child is ready to travel without a booster seat!

What Age Can a Child Travel Without a Booster Seat Legally?

There are two types of suggestions when it comes to the age a child can travel without a booster seat: the legal age a child can do so and the age a child can do so safely. Some states are better about requiring a child to sit in a booster seat until it is safe not to do so than others.

If you’re a parent looking to find the legal age your child can travel without a booster seat, see the list below for your state. There is paraphrased information on the legal age a child must use a booster seat for each state in this article—click on the hyperlink for your state for more detailed information.

  • Alabama – children must use booster seat until age 6
  • Alaska – children must use booster seat until age 8 or until at least 65 pounds in weight
  • Arizona – children must use booster seat/child restraint system until age 8 or until 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Arkansas – children must use booster seat/child restraint system until age 6 or until at least 60 pounds in weight
  • California – children must use booster seat/child restraint system until age 8 or until 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Colorado – children must use booster seat/child restraint system until age 16
  • Connecticut – children must use booster seat/child restraint system until age 8 or until at least 60 pounds in weight
  • Delaware – children must use booster seat until age 8 or until at least 65 pounds in weight
  • Florida – children must use child restraint system until age 6
  • Georgia – children must use child restraint system until age 8 or until at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Hawaii – children must use booster seat/child restraint system until age 8 or until at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Idaho – children must use child restraint system until age 6
  • Illinois – children must use child restraint system until age 8
  • Indiana – children must use child restraint system until age 8
  • Iowa – children must use child restraint system until age 6
  • Kansas – children must use child restraint system until age 8 or until 80 pounds in weight or 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Kentucky – children must use child restraint system until age 8 or until at least 57 inches in height
  • Louisiana – children must use child restraint system until age 9
  • Maine – children must use child restraint system until age 8 or until at least 80 pounds in weight or at least 57 inches in height
  • Maryland – children must use booster seat until age 8
  • Massachusetts – children must use booster seat until age 8 or at least 57 inches in height
  • Michigan – children must use booster seat until age 8 or until at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Minnesota – children must use child restraint system until age 8 or at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Mississippi – children must use child restraint system until age 7
  • Missouri – children must use child restraint system until age 8 or at least 80 pounds in weight or 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Montana – children must use child safety restraint until age 6 or at least 60 pounds in weight
  • Nebraska – children must use child safety restraint until age 8
  • Nevada – children must use child safety restraint until age 6 or at least 60 pounds in weight
  • New Hampshire – children must use child restraint system until age 7 or at least 57 inches in height
  • New Jersey – children must use booster seat until age 8 or at least 57 inches in height
  • New Mexico – children must use child restraint system until age 6 or at least 60 pounds in weight
  • New York – children must use child restraint system until age 8
  • North Carolina – children must use booster seat until age 8 or at least 80 pounds in weight
  • North Dakota – children must use booster seat until age 8
  • Ohio – children must use booster seat until age 8 or until 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Oklahoma – children must use child restraint system until age 8
  • Oregon – children must use booster seat until at least 40 pounds in weight or at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Pennsylvania – children must use booster seat until age 8
  • Rhode Island – children must use child restraint system until age 8 or until at least 57 inches in height or 80 pounds in weight
  • South Carolina – children must use booster seat until age 8 or at least 57 inches in height
  • South Dakota – children must use booster seat until age 5
  • Tennessee – children must use booster seat until age 8 or until at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Texas – children must use booster seat until age 8 or at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Utah – children must use booster seat until age 8 or at least 57 inches in height
  • Vermont – children must use booster seat until age 8
  • Virginia – children must use child restraint device until age 7
  • Washington – children must use booster seat until age 8 or until at least 4 feet and 9 inches in height
  • Washington D.C. – children must use child restraint system until age 8
  • West Virginia – children must use child safety device until age 8
  • Wisconsin – children must use booster seat until age 8 or until 80 pounds in weight or 57 inches in height
  • Wyoming – children must use child restraint system until age 8

The above information provides just a paraphrased version of the laws and statutes for each state—some states have very detailed information on the different types of restraints that children should use as they grow up. If you are looking for more information on laws regarding seat belts, car seating for infants, when your child can sit in the front passenger seat, and more, click on your hyperlinked state.

What Age Can a Child Travel Without a Booster Seat Safely?

New booster seatThere is a difference between what the state requires and what is recommended by professionals when it comes to child travel safety. There are many different facets that must be looked at before determining if a child is ready to travel without a booster seat. You cannot simply look at age alone—because each child is unique, it is important to look at each child’s weight and height before deciding if they are ready to be without a booster seat!

It is important to note that there are many, many different types of car seats for children. Let’s take a quick look at the different types of seat below:

  • Rear-facing: this type of car seat is recommended for infants and young toddlers
  • Forward-facing: this type of care seat is recommended for toddlers and preschool-aged children; professionals recommend forward-facing car seats with harnesses for these ages
  • Booster: this type of car seat is usually backless and simply elevates a child in a car seat; boosters use your vehicle’s seat belt to buckle them in properly—boosters are usually recommended for children between the ages of 4 and 8

Booster seats are usually the last type of car seat that children use before they are able to sit in the car using seat belts alone. There are booster seats with and without backs, and it is up to each individual parent to determine what is safest for their child to use.

Professionals recommend that children use booster seats until between the ages of 8 and 12. But that’s a big age gap—which age is best to stop using a booster seat?

The best age is determined by the weight and height of your child, as suggested by some states in their laws and statutes. Professionals typically recommend that a child uses a booster seat until they have reached the height of 4 feet and 9 inches.

An Easy Way to Test if Your Child is Ready to Travel Without a Booster Seat Safely

Fortunately for parents, there is an easy way to see if a child is ready to stop using a booster seat. Try this 5 step test with your child. Have your child sit in the car without a booster seat and buckle them in with a regular car buckle.

  1. Where does the seat belt rest on your child? Does it rest in the middle of the chest and the middle of their shoulder?
  2. Can your child sit with his bottom all the way to the back of the seat?
  3. Can your child’s feet touch the floor with their knees bending at the edge of the car seat?
  4. Does the lap of the seat belt rest across your child’s hips and upper thighs?
  5. Can your child sit like this comfortably for as long of a trip as needed?

If you answer no to any of these questions, your child likely isn’t ready to travel without a booster seat quite yet. Wait at least 3-4 months before trying this test out again. Children grow fast!

But what if my child can legally ride without a seat belt but didn’t pass this test?

You are not legally required to use a booster seat if your child fits the legal requirements of your state. We aren’t here to tell you want to do—it is up to you as a parent to determine what is best for your child! With this in mind, this five-step test is to determine whether or not it is safe for your child to travel without a booster seat.

Professionals recommend that you wait until your child passes this test before ridding the booster seat for your child’s safety. Don’t worry—it’s only a matter of time until your child is ready to travel without one!

Conclusion

When it comes to booster seats, any parent, babysitter, or nanny can tell you just how annoying they are. But it is important to follow the laws of your state and test for your child’s safety before getting rid of the booster seat. In this article, we provided information on the various laws and statutes that each state holds surrounding child safety in vehicles.

Although some states are great about creating laws that keep in mind the safety of children based on professional opinions, others are not. In this article, we provided a 5 step test that you can easily use to test and see if your child is ready to travel without a booster seat.

We hope for safe travels for you and your family, and we hope that this article was able to give you some insight on how to travel legally and safely with or without a booster seat!

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