View Full Version : What age for kids to be out of all seat restraints and ride up front?

01-18-2016, 02:13 PM
Out of curiosity about others' thoughts and practices on child safety stuff...

At what age did/would you have your kids out of all car restraint/safety devices (i.e. car seat or booster seat)?

At what age did/would you have your kids ride 'up front' regularly?

We chucked the booster seat officially when kiddo turned 8 - that's the age at which it is legal in my state.

My state doesn't have a law regarding kids (once out of the car seat/booster seat ages) in the front seat. So I haven't decided on when to allow this. He's been in the front seat a couple of times since turning 8. I'm thinking one of my biggest concerns will be whether he can avoid distracting me, lol.

01-18-2016, 02:42 PM
It's a weight issue, isn't it? That is what I always went by...Newton's 2nd law and all that about seatbelts' ability to stop our kids from flying around? And the counter (3rd law) about airbags in the front seats and adult seatbelts hitting the kids' hips at an odd angle?

my kid is skinny and tall so too bad if she was in a booster seat forever...she's too much of a lightweight to sit in the front either.

01-18-2016, 03:15 PM
We went strictly by state law. However, the booster seat was uncomfortable for my tall ds. It would cut off his circulation in the thighs since his legs were too long for the seat. However, by weight, he was still under.

01-18-2016, 03:26 PM
It's over 8 or 57" here, but I don't think they ticket. I know someone who chucked it at about age 4.

dd28 rode up front forward facing in the second-cheapest car seat at the thrift store.

ds8 was rear facing when he was 4. There's no way I'd chuck the booster, but I'd love to have him up front in my car since I don't have airbags, but the law says over 13.

ETA: I put a booster-aged child up front and squished his parent between the car seats in back once when I had no other option and didn't get a ticket, which is what the law says to do, but I seriously don't want to attract any unnecessary attention from less informed officers at this time.

01-18-2016, 04:06 PM
I think it's age 12 and probably some height and weight requirement here (to stop using a booster). DD is 10 and still in hers. I don't know about the front seat; it's not on my radar yet.

01-18-2016, 04:26 PM
State law for us is 8 as well, so DS was in a booster until maybe a month or so after he turned 8. I know that many of his friends had been out of boosters years earlier, though. He is going to stay in the back until at least 12, at which point I'll look at how the seat belt fits him in the front.

01-18-2016, 04:34 PM
We followed the state law and/or recommendations. Age 4-8 required a booster (and I believe we had weight recommendations.) DS started sitting up front probably around age 11. I don't remember exactly. There were height and weight recommendations, so we followed those.

Since your state doesn't have a law you have to follow, you may want to look at your specific vehicle recommendations for what is safe in the front seat as far as height, weight, whether or not your front and side airbags have sensors, and that sort of thing.

01-18-2016, 05:23 PM
CA law says 8 yrs old for both booster and back seat, or height exemption of 40 inches.

DS10 still likes his booster seat. He can see out the window better and has cupholders. If he has friends with him, though, they sit back in row3, no boosters. Sometimes on the way home from the
grocery store (the closest store to our house) I let him ride in the front and let DS3 sit in the booster instead of his 5-point cage. TBH Im surprised the 5-point has lasted as long as it has - DS3 hates it. I imagine keeping him in a booster until hes 8 (or 16, the way laws are going) is going to be a problem.

Maybe Im too blase about safety. Im not that worried about how long they stay in booster seats. ;)

01-18-2016, 05:37 PM
I go by the height recommendations. Both my 10 year old and my 8 year old are still in booster seats. My 10 year old is on the short side so I'm keeping her in a booster until she meets the height recommendation (requirement?) of at least 4'9". They were in 5-point harness car seats until about 2 years ago (they are the same size so I was fine moving my younger one out of the car seat at the same time by older one was ready). I wasn't a stickler on rear-facing, the recommendation wasn't as old as it is now, but I did keep them rear-facing until they were over 1.

My daughter is 10, and at her last check up, the pediatrician said 'you know she is still supposed to be in a booster, right?' He was a bit shocked when I told him yes, she is still in a booster. I guess most parents aren't aware.

It will be a few years before I let her sit in the front seat on a regular basis. My husband occasionally lets her sit up there if he's picking her up alone on a short drive, but we wouldn't ever let her ride up there on the highway at this point. She's small so, once again, it's a size issue. I'm small, too. According to the air bag notice in the front, I barely meet the size requirements for sitting up front!

01-18-2016, 05:37 PM
DS was in a booster until he was 8 - but it was starting to give him problems at the end, he was too big.

The front seat, I don't know. It is not an issue right now and I am sure he will be big enough soon.

01-18-2016, 05:43 PM
My nine year old still rides in a booster. Legally, she could ride without one, but she's small and it doesn't fit correctly yet.

01-18-2016, 05:45 PM
When I was teaching there were 9 year old fourth graders that were taller and heavier than me. I think it's a height/weight thing in FL. But, then one of my friends would be driving her kids around from the back seat.

01-18-2016, 06:21 PM
My state's law.....this is what I followed for my second boy, cause by the time the law was enacted my older was huge beyond the height-weight rules.

Effective June 1, 2007, children less than eight years old must be restrained in child restraint systems, unless the child is four feet nine inches or taller. A child who is eight years old or older, or four feet nine inches or taller, must be properly restrained either with the motor vehicle's safety belt or an appropriately fitting child restraint system. Children under thirteen years old must be transported in rear seats where it is practical to do so.

The fine for improperly restrained children in motor vehicles is at least $112 per child.

01-18-2016, 07:33 PM
Can't vote. Clearly a height/weight thing primarily.

01-18-2016, 08:34 PM
Actually, when it comes to the laws, the vast majority of states only have age requirements for booster seats. Mostly less than 4-8 or 5-8. The height or weight comes into play only when the child is of booster seat age, but taller or heavier than a max - mostly 4'9" or 65 pounds, exempting them from having to be in a booster seat.

Most states don't have an explicit law on riding in the front seat. A lot of states that don't mandate seat belts in the back seat (which is most) don't have a law on 8-18 yos and rear seat belts. In other words, kids 8 and older aren't required by law to wear a seat belt in the back seat.

Of course, the age base is probably just for the practicality of enforcing the law.

Newer cars with air bags usually have a mechanism to disengage it...my car does, so the airbag is not the issue with the front seat.

I started thinking about this when I read the Freakonomics book (entertaining, anyways, though not the last statement) and it has a chapter on kids' safety and car seats - there's no data on whether car seats actually help - seems the main benefit of the car seat might just be that it's in the back seat, which is safer for everybody, adults included.

And there's evidence that car seats might not provide as much safety benefit as we think:



B&Z Mama
01-18-2016, 09:02 PM
Our pediatrician likes to joke with me that my kids are going to go to prom in a booster seat... he might be right....

Free Thinker
01-19-2016, 12:12 AM
It depends on the car and the seat. The backseat of my Suburban is smaller than the captains chairs, I just let my 8 year olds out of the booster when they sit back there because the seatbelt fits them well without a booster (hits at the right spots on the shoulder and hip, seat is narrow so legs fall at 90degree angle). They cannot sit in the captains chair without a booster because it's deeper and the seatbelts comes out much higher so it won't hit them right on the shoulder- my 11 year old is just now big enough to sit there correctly without a booster. I said 12+ for the front seat, because most 12-13 year olds are the size of regular adults- at least mine is.

01-19-2016, 03:13 AM
I doubt if my child will be out of a booster until he's 11 or 12. He's not particularly tall or heavy. They've got some great ones these days like the Incognito that just blend in with the seat for the older kiddos, so I'm not really worried. Considering I'll harness to at least 6 years old I can't personally imagine taking a kid out of all car seat options at 8. As far as sitting up front goes, do I have to? I mean I kinda like my peace and quiet up in the front. ;)

01-19-2016, 03:36 PM
My state law requires 8 years or 80 lbs. Car seat techs recommend booster seats until 57". DS just turned 8 and is not quite 52", so he's still in a backless booster in our cars.

For the front seat, it would be legal to put him there now, but I won't until he's tall enough to be getting uncomfortable in the back seat--maybe 12, based on family members' growth.

I see no reason to do it earlier than necessary, unless I was regularly transporting larger numbers of kids.

01-22-2016, 02:18 AM
Ours has to be in his until he is 8 or 57 inches. He's just 6 and 50 inches already so I'm thinking height may be reached before age is. I hit 5ft6in by the time I was 10, and he's following my growth curve so he's going to be super tall early.

The being in the back doesn't bother me. The thing that bugs me is the HUGE number of ppl who scream that you should rear face until 4. Seriously. 4. My kid outgrew all the rear facing car seats 5 years ago when he hit 1 (the largest was 32 inches long then). by 4, he was well over 3 feet tall. I'm convinced safety laws are designed for short, round kids, and not for tall beanpoles.

01-22-2016, 01:29 PM
After thinking about this thread for awhile, I remembered that ds now-24 wasn't even five feet tall when he was 12. By today's standards, he belonged in a booster and 10 year old Alselvarial did not!!!

I liked having them up front so that we could talk and interact. ds8 hated car seats and I couldn't drive safely with a baby screaming hysterically in the back where I couldn't see what was going on or, worse yet, the sudden deafening silence which the driver (assuming there was no other passenger in the car) could never really be sure whether it was the poor tyke finally crying himself into an exhausted sleep or dying of a stress-induced heart attack.

I seriously got a ticket for turning the wrong way on a one way street in a town where I had lived for 10+ years and knew like the back of my hand.

ds8 is showing me just how diverse kids are and how many variations on normal there truly are. dd28 and dd26 both loved riding in cars and since I didn't own one, I would call up friends and ask them to drive me around aimlessly to help the babies get to sleep. I finally found out the sound of a vacuum cleaner was similarly soothing to dd26 and would turn the thing sideways, turn it on and leave it on, and rock and rock in the rocking chair.

I never would have believed that easy, mellow babies like ds8 existed if I hadn't had one myself. He seems very big for his age to me after my little shorties that shot up during puberty, but he is way, way too short to chuck the booster right now (the backless is in ds24's '15 Dodge Dart, but I still have the back attached to the booster in my '89 Honda Accord and have no plans to remove it) and had no problem rear facing until 4. I would have bought a seat with a higher weight and height limit to rear face him even longer if I hadn't known by then that I could never have another baby and that it was highly unlikely that my first grandchild would shuffle on to this mortal coil before the seat expired.

Homeschooling a neurotypical child after 2e siblings is another story for another thread.