As parents, we can only be at ease when we know that our children are safe. That’s why booster seats are among the primary safety precautions we take when riding cars, where many unexpected accidents can happen.
However, many people are unaware that booster seats also have an expiration date. Consequently, this begs the question: exactly when do booster seats expire?
This article won’t only discuss when booster seats expire, but also what they are and who they’re intended for. We’ll also find out why they expire and what to do with expired seats.
And while we are talking about expired booster seats, you might want to check out our guides on do car seats expire, do strollers expire, do pacifiers expire, and do baby bottles expire. Or even our guide on how to keep baby cool in car seat!
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What Are Booster Seats?
Booster seats are when your children are too old for car seats but aren’t yet big enough for adult seat belts. These seats are used to raise up your child for a more comfortable and secure fit.
They also provide extra protection for children during car rides as a way of preventing any injuries any time the car comes to a sudden stop. There are also additional safety features, such as adjustable headrests and shoulder harnesses.
There are two kinds of booster seats. Knowing which one to get depends on your children’s comfort and needs.
- No-back booster seats for back seats with headrests
- High-back booster seats for both seats with and without headrests
Who Should Use Booster Seats?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it’s safer for children to use car seats even if they already fit in booster seats.
Children should be between the ages of 4–12 and weigh at least 40 pounds before they can use boosters. However, even if they’ve already reached the required age and weight, it’s much better for them to continue using harnessed seats rather than quickly switching to booster seats.
Here are some reasons why.
Young Children Don’t Sit Still
It’s sometimes better to wait until the kids are at least five or six years old, or until they’re mature enough to sit still for the entire trip.
Younger children tend to be more energetic, so you’ll notice they begin to lean over or slouch on trips that take longer than they can tolerate. They might also mess with the buckles or unbuckle themselves while on the road.
As a result, they may become a source of distraction for the driver. This also increases their risk of suffering serious injuries in the event of an accident.
Car Seats Are More Secure
The five-point harness on car seats ensures children stay in their seats. Furthermore, it’s much better at spreading the impact of collisions, so children are less likely to sustain serious injuries.
That’s why it’s preferable to let the kids outgrow their car seats first. The harness not only keeps them safer than boosters, but it also helps them maintain the habit of sitting properly inside vehicles.
When Do Booster Seats Expire?
Booster seats, like many other items, have a limited lifespan. While they may seem like they’re safe to use, these seats are only guaranteed to keep children safe for an average of 6–10 years.
Nevertheless, check the expiration date of your booster seat model to be sure. It’s usually written on the label under the seat or in the frame.
In addition, if you were in an accident, carefully inspect the booster seat. Keep in mind that if it’s suffered in a crash, it could already be expired and possibly no longer functioning as it should.
You must be wondering how booster seats even expire. They might still appear to be in good condition even when they’re passed their expiration date. However, don’t let that deceive you.
Here’s a short list of reasons why booster seats have an expiration date and why you should replace them after their expiry.
Materials Wear Down
Over time, the materials used in these seats will degrade. The boosters are exposed to both the cold of the car’s air conditioner and the heat of the sun when the vehicle is parked. These temperature changes tend to wear out the material, causing unseen damage to the seat.
Along with that, the seat is also often exposed to various chemicals used for cleaning and other substances you use when cleaning spills.
So, it’s not surprising to learn that booster seats expire due to everyday wear and tear, even if the damages aren’t visible.
Manufacturers are constantly making use of technological advancements during the design and production phases to make their booster seats more secure and long-lasting.
Because we all want the best for our children, we have to always be on the lookout for newer upgrades and know when they hit the market.
Updated Safety Regulations
With the continuous improvements in technology, many former booster seat guidelines and safety regulations are also seeing significant changes.
Some places also have laws regarding seats as well that are continuously being updated. So, just to be on the safe side, aim to always have the most recent seats to comply with current regulations.
What to Do When Your Booster Seats Are Expired
Naturally, the first thing to do when a booster seat has reached its expiration date is to replace it and install a new one.
Yet, when it comes to throwing out your old booster seat, avoid throwing it out someplace where it can be retrieved and used by others. That could be dangerous for them and their children. Instead, you can cut the straps and their other parts before throwing them separately.
Otherwise, ask around or search online for recycling centers near you. You may even find a store or program that exchanges booster seats for new ones!
Final Thoughts on how long are booster seats good for
So, here’s our answer to your question, “When do booster seats expire?”
The general rule is that you should replace your child’s seat every 6–10 years, but it largely depends on the situation and brand.
The most important takeaway is that once your booster seat has expired, make sure to get a new one as soon as you can!
And if you’re looking for more great baby guides, then check out these guides on car seats compatible with Uppababy Cruz, car seats compatible with Uppababy Vista, Graco classic connect vs click connect, and best narrow car seats.