Does Your Child Still Need a Car Seat in Washington State?

The age-old question every parent has to ask sooner or later is, how can you exactly tell if your child still needs a car or booster seat or can they just use a seat belt?

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5 Easy Tips to Tell if Your Child Still Needs A Booster Seat

My youngest son is growing fast and the question came up if he was big enough to ride in cars without a booster seat. I remember going through this before with our first, but I had to look it up again to be sure.

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Luckily, there are 5 easy things you can check as a parent to make sure that your child is big enough to ride in cars with just a seat belt.

1- Back Against the Seat

credit Washington State Child Safety
credit Washington State Child Safety
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Can your child sit in the seat with their back touching the seat? Make sure they are sitting all the way back and they are not slouching.

2- Knees Bend at the Seat

credit Washington State Child Safety
credit Washington State Child Safety
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If your child is sitting with their back against the seat and their knees are before the end of the seat, your child is not big enough yet. They need to be able to bend the knee beyond the end of the seat so their leg bends straight down.

3- Belts in Correct Positions

credit Washington State Child Safety
credit Washington State Child Safety
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When you strap your child in, the seat belt needs to be across the upper thigh and the shoulder strap needs to be across the mid-shoulder. If the belt rides up on your child's neck, they are not big enough yet.

4- Feet Rest on the Floor

credit Washington State Child Safety
credit Washington State Child Safety
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When your child is strapped in their seatbelt, their feet need to be able to rest on the floor flat. If they do not reach the floor completely, they still need a booster seat.

5- Remain in Position for Entire Trip

credit Washington State Child Safety
credit Washington State Child Safety
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The last step is nothing you need to check, but more of a reminder to keep your child in the upright position with their feet on the floor the entire trip. My son likes to try to lie down or put his feet up on long drives. Make sure they are keeping in the correct secure position your entire drive.

For more information about kids and car seats in Washington State, click here to visit the WA Car Seat official website.

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