California Booster Seat Requirements

California law requires children to be secured in a booster or car seat in the back seat of the vehicle until they reach age 8 or a height of 4 feet 9 inches. All child safety seats must meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, and the seat must be appropriate for the child's age and height.

Unlike car seats, which have a built-in harness, booster seats are used in conjunction with the vehicle's seatbelt. The booster seat raises the child so that the lap and shoulder belts are positioned properly and the child's knees can bend naturally.

It's important to use a booster seat or car seat that is appropriate for your child's height. Injuries can occur if the child does not have proper head and neck support in the event of an accident.

Types of Booster Seats

High-Back Booster Seats

If your car's seat back is lower than your child's ears, use a high-back booster seat to protect your child's head and neck.

Backless Booster Seats

If your car's seat back is higher than your child's ears, it is safe to use a backless booster seat.

Requirements for Kids 2 and Under

Booster seats are not safe for children who are 2 years old or younger. Until a child weighs 40 or more pounds or is at least 40 inches tall, California drivers are required to use a rear-facing car seat. Always be sure to follow the car seat manufacturer's height and weight limits.

When your child exceeds the height or weight limit of a rear-facing car seat, you can upgrade to a forward-facing car seat with a harness. According to the California Highway Patrol, you can typically upgrade to a forward-facing seat once the child weighs between 40 and 65 pounds.

The safest option is to keep your child in a harnessed seat for as long as possible. Kids are typically ready to upgrade to a booster seat when they outgrow the height or weight limit of their forward-facing harness.

Requirements for Kids 8 and Up

When children are at least 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall, you may secure them in a booster seat. At a minimum, California law requires kids of this age or height to wear a safety belt.