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When Can a Child Switch to a Regular Seatbelt?

Kids can start wearing a regular seatbelt when:

  • They can easily rest their back against the seat of the car and bend their knees over the edge of the seat with their feet touching the floor.
  • The lap belt fits comfortably across the upper thighs and hips (not the stomach).
  • The shoulder strap goes across the chest and shoulder, never beneath a child's arm, behind their back, or across their neck.
  • They can sit safely for the entire ride without slouching or leaning.

Usually, this happens when kids are between 8 and 12 years old and around 4 feet 9 inches (about 150 centimeters) tall.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that kids younger than 13 years old always ride in the back seat.

Continue to use a booster seat if your child cannot sit properly or wear the seatbelt correctly.

Reviewed by: Amy W. Anzilotti, MD
Date Reviewed: Mar 20, 2023

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