Booster seats

Booster Seats

Booster seats are designed for children who no longer fit in a 5 point harnessed car seat, and who are too small to correctly fit an adult seat belt. The booster helps to correctly position the seat belt over the child's body. Also known as a belt positioning booster.

Recent research in New Zealand and Australia shows that children need to use a booster seat until somewhere between 8 and 12 years of age (Elizabeth Segedin, 2006).

  • All 4 and 5 year olds required a car seat or booster seat
  • 90% of  6, 7, and 8 year olds required booster seats
  • 50% of  9 and 10 year olds
  • 10% of 11 and 12 year olds still required booster seats

In addition to the above figures, Sam Tormey (2008) states the following,

"The rear seat of the average family car is too deep for almost half of adult women to sit upright and comfortably bend their knees over the edge of the seat, and the seatbelt in the rear seat is unsafe for any person less than 145cm tall. Children do not reach this height until around 11 years old, on average. There are two main concerns with being too small for an adult belt: the lap portion rides across the tummy, not the bony hips, causing abdominal injury in a crash, and the sash portion rides across the neck rather than the chest, causing injury to the neck and throat. Long seat cushions exacerbate these concerns by causing the child or small adult to slump so that their knees can bend at the edge of the seat, causing both parts of the seatbelt to ‘ride up’." Sydney's Child August 2008, pg 32. Syndey's Child publication [28, 29, 30, 31, 32]

It is recommended that your child remains in a harnessed restraint right up to the maximum specified weight limit, then use a full backed booster.

Benefits of booster seat use include:

    A correctly fitting seat belt, where the lap portion rests low down over the child's lap. The sash portion over their chest, but away from their neck.

    Side impact protection. The wings of a full back booster offers the child side impact protection that an adult belt alone is not able to offer. This also assists children when sleeping in the car.

Types of booster seat

Convertible booster

Convertible Booster Seat

Convertible booster seats can be used with integral harness for children from 8 - 18kgs, and 14-26kgs with an adult belt or child harness. Some models allow booster use until 36/45kgs. Check your seat or manual for info.

It is recommended that children under 12kgs/2 years old remain rear facing.

Booster seat

Full Backed Booster Seat

A full backed booster is a dedicated booster that has a back and sides for added protection.

The full backed booster can be used with an adult seat belt (full lap & sash only) or a child safety harness (CSH)*.

*Plastic booster seats without a versa tether catch cannot be used with CSH. All Polystyrene and half boosters can be. Check your manual for details.

Half booster seat

Half Booster Seat

Half booster seats are recommended mostly for older children who still need boosting to correctly fit an adult seat belt (lap & sash only). It is not advised to use half booster seats with preschool or small school children.

A half booster can be used with an adult seat belt (full lap & sash only) or a child harness (CSH).


Once your child has outgrown their car seat (around 4 years old/18kgs) the next step is to use a booster seat. There are many booster seats for sale in New Zealand and each fits your car and child differently.

The advantage of a booster seat with side wings is that your child is able to sleep within the sides of the seat rather than sitting in a way that could cause serious injuries in the event of an accident. The image below shows 2 young children using half booster seats while asleep.

No back booster

If you find that your child does not sit correctly in their booster seat with the adult seat belt you can use the seat with a child safety harness. The harness provides 2 points over the shoulders and uses the seat belt as another point across the child's lap, and a small bar keeps the straps together across the child's chest. The image below shows the same booster seat (Safe-n-Sound Pegasus) with adult belt (left) and child safety harness (right).

Booster belt harness

Use the links below to find out more:

| The stages and types of restraint use
| For children 4-8 years of age
| For children over 4 years of age
| For children over 8-12 years of age
| Questions most often asked

"age" here is approximate and is a guide only, check your manual for details on minimum and maximum weight limits.