Booster seats: how to know when your child is ready

January 30, 2015

Keeping your child safe in the car is always a top priority. Use these tips to decide if your child is ready for a booster seat.

As a rule of thumb, babies and toddlers up until the age of three or four should ride in the back seat in a car seat.How can you tell when you child is ready to graduate to a booster seat? The answer depends on the size of your child and Canadian law.

Booster seats: how to know when your child is ready

Your child's size

Generally, if your child still fits into a car seat, it is best to leave him or her in the car seat. The five-point harness used in car seats will keep your child safer than using a booster seat and your car's seat belts. If a child's head reaches above the top of the car seat, or his or her legs have grown too long to sit comfortably in the car seat, it may be time to consider a booster seat.

However, note that by the age of three or four, children may begin to become more independent and may resent their car seat.

Legal considerations

Each Canadian province has laws and regulations concerning the use of car and booster seats. For example, in Ontario, children must be in cars seat until they weigh at least 9 kg, but less than 18 kg. After they reach 18 kg, they can move into a booster seat. In Manitoba, children must ride in a car seat until they weigh at least 23 kg and are five years old. Check your province's requirements before you buy a booster seat.

Laws may also impact your choice of a booster seat. Under Canadian law, if you use a low back booster seat, your car must have adjustable head rests.


Booster seats are available in a range of styles, colours and prices. Make sure you shop with your child and let him or her test drive a range of seats to determine which one is most comfortable. Involving children in the choice will make the transition to a booster seat easier.

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