The law requires booster seats for children who have outgrown a forward-facing car seat but are too small for a regular seat belt.

It is best to keep your child in a harness car seat for as long as possible to allow their skeletal structure to be strong enough to withstand the force of a collision. Some harnessed car seats allow for use up to 65lbs.

Once a child has outgrown their 5-point harnessed forward-facing car seat, they should be ready to ride in a booster.

There are 2 types of boosters — a booster cushion and a high-back booster. Both will have height and weight, and maybe age, limits. Please read the booster seat’s owner’s manual to be sure that your child meets these criteria.

As much as the booster seat has minimum height and weight limits,the maturity of your child plays a large role. A booster is a big responsibility for a child because they have to be able to sit in the proper position so that the seat belt will be in the correct location on the body. The lap belt needs to be low on the hips, across the top of the thighs, and the shoulder belt needs to cross the shoulder, away from the neck, on the collarbone.

In Ontario, the law states that, a child can start using a seatbelt alone once any one of the following criteria is met:

  • child turns eight years old
  • child weighs 36 kg (80 lb.)
  • child is 145 cm (4 feet-9 inches) tall.

Height plays a much more important role than age or weight. A vehicle seat belt is designed to restrain an adult.

It is very important to do the 5 Step Test to insure that your child fits in the vehicle’s seat belt properly.

From The Car Seat Lady — thecarseatlady.wordpress.com/boosters/5steptest/

Please remember that all vehicles have different sized seats so your child will fit differently in each vehicle. You should not assume that they can ride with a seat belt in all vehicles.


Wendy is a Mom, wife and Certified Car Seat Technician (since 2008) who has a passion for child safety. You can read all about her adventures as a Mom of two at www.mapsgirl.ca.