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Car Seat: Use a 5-point harness for your child for as long as your child meets the weight or height limits of the car seat. A 5-point harness provides more protection than a seat belt used with a booster seat or a seat belt alone. Make sure that the harness fits snugly around your child’s hips and shoulders. We will show you how to do the Pinch Test in Tip #4.

Booster Seat: After your child has outgrown the car seat harness, move to a booster seat. Use the car’s lap and shoulder seat belt with a booster seat as shown in the video above. The shoulder strap should fit across the chest and on the shoulder, not across the face or neck. The lap belt should lie on the top of the legs or low on the hips, not across the stomach. Follow the seat belt guides on the booster seat. If your child moves the shoulder belt behind her back and under her arm, it means that the seat belt and booster seat aren’t fitting properly. If your child cannot use the booster seat just as the manufacturer requires, return to the car seat with a harness instead.

Seat Belt Alone: Do the Seat Belt Fit Test in every car your child uses. Use the seat belt alone when your child has outgrown the booster seat and passes the Seat Belt Fit Test. Place the seat belt over the shoulder and low on the hips. If your child cannot fit properly and safely with just a seat belt, use the booster seat instead.


Do the Pinch Test to make sure the harness is snug enough.

After you buckle and tighten the harness, pinch the harness at the shoulder. If the harness is snug, your fingers will slide off the webbing. If the harness is loose, you will be able to pinch the webbing between your fingers. A loose harness is a common mistake and is not safe. Keep tightening the harness until it passes the Pinch Test.

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