When kids ages 4 to 8 ride in a car in Texas, they must ride in a booster seat.

Texas State Requirements for Child Booster Seats

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

The safety of your child is important to Texas elected officials and to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Texas car and booster seat regulations cover children from birth to age 8 and all children shorter than 4 feet 9 inches tall. Texas booster seat laws are less stringent than the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines issued in April 2011, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

1. Transition Information

When your child weighs at least 40 pounds and has outgrown a forward-facing car seat, he should transition into a booster seat. This generally happens around age 4, however the AAP guidelines encourage parents to keep the child in the forward-facing car sear until the child reaches the seat's maximum weight or height limits to ensure the child can travel as safely as possible.

2. Booster Seat Regulations

Your child can ride in a booster seat when she reaches age 4 and should stay in the booster seat until she at least 8 years old and at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall. Otherwise, the adult safety shoulder and belt harness could hurt your child during an accident. The child must be secured in the booster seat using both the lap belt and the shoulder harness. The average weight for a child in a booster seat is between 40 and 100 pounds, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety guidelines. The booster seat must meet federal guidelines for a booster seat and should not have been involved in a car accident, which could damage the seat integrity. Failure to have your child ride in a booster seat between ages 4 and 8 can result in a fine of up to $200.

3. Texas Versus AAP Guidelines

The AAP guidelines recommend that small-boned and small-statured children may need to ride in a booster seat until age 12. The child should transition to using the adult seat belt system only when he meets the height requirement of 4 feet, 9 inches. The AAP guidelines recommend that children younger than 13 ride in the back seat, but Texas booster seat regulations do not require parents to place the booster seat and child in the back seat.

4. Booster Seat Assistance Programs

Texas officials recognize that child-restraint seats are expensive and could pose an economic hardship for low-income families. There is a program to help those families get a free child restraint seat if the family is considered low-income, has a car and has a licensed family driver attend a one-hour educational class. The program guidelines provide one seat per family, but the program will assist with an additional seat when necessary.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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