The state of Texas legally requires children under the age of 8 years old or under 4’9” tall to be secured in a car seat or booster seat.
The law does not specify what type of car seat or booster seat children must legally use by age, but they do have recommended guidelines for child safety.
Booster Seat Requirements Texas
Children must ride in a booster seat (or rear-facing or front-facing car seat) in Texas until they reach ONE of the following requirements:
- Booster Seat Age/Car Seat Age: 8 years
- Booster Seat Weight Limit/Car Seat Weight Limit: unspecified
- Booster Seat Height Limit/Car Seat Height Limit: 4’9”
Texas law only dictates children under 8 years old and 4’9” be secured in a child seat of some kind.
It does not specify the type of child seat.
However, the state does provide safety guidelines for when you should switch to a booster seat.
Booster Seat Guidelines Texas
The state of Texas advises keeping children in a front-facing car seat (with harness) until they reach the weight or height limit on the car seat before switching to a booster.
Weight limits on front-facing car seats are typically between 40 and 65 pounds.
Where can I get my booster seat checked or installed in Texas?
The Texas Department of Transportation has a state car seat program that can provide guidance on booster seat installation and booster seat checks online.
The Department of Public Safety also operates car seat fitting stations (some of which are permanent) where you can get your child’s booster seat properly installed or checked.
Many sheriff’s offices and fire stations in Texas offer booster seat inspections as well.
General Booster Seat Laws FAQ
Are booster seats effective?
According to the CDC, “booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children age 4-8, when compared with seat belt use alone.”
When can a child use a booster seat?
A child can use a booster seat when she outgrows her forward-facing car seat with a harness.
Though the laws on front-facing car seats and booster seats differ by state, for safety’s sake your child should stay in a front-facing (harnessed) child seat until he reaches the maximum height or weight on the seat.
When can a kid stop using a booster seat?
The minimum safe height for use of a regular seat belt without a booster seat is 4’9”.
Due to this, it is recommended your child ride in a booster seat until they are at least 4’9” (yes, California’s law is an inch shorter), regardless of their age.
Not all state laws support this.
Many states have minimum ages at which children may transition to regular seatbelts, no matter their height.
But if you want your child to be the safest they can be on the road, you should keep them in a booster seat until they are 4’9”.
What is the booster seat weight limit?
Different booster seats have different weight limits, typically 100-120 pounds.
But weight isn’t the main determiner of when a child should move from a booster seat to a seat belt.
Height is more important to a seat belt’s fit.
What’s the best booster seat?
The best booster seat is the one that will do the most effective job of keeping your child safe in the event of an accident.
According to Consumer Reports, the top-performing booster seats on the market (as of July 2022) are:
Graco Turbobooster Grow
Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Plus 120
But you don’t have to buy a separate booster seat if you have a convertible car seat.
For convertible toddler-booster seats and all-in-one car seats with booster functionality, see our car seat buying guide Which Car Seat To Buy: Making Sure Your Little Ones Stay Safe On The Road.
When were booster seats invented?
The very first child seats for cars were more booster seats than car seats.
They were literally designed to “boost” children up so they could see better (and so parents could see them), but they had no built-in safety features.
Booster seats as we know them today, with their focus on transitional safety between car seats and seatbelts, have only been around since the late-1990s to early 2000s when laws requiring them started being implemented.
When did booster seats become mandatory?
Booster seats are not mandatory in all states.
Some states have younger minimum ages and no height requirements for transitioning children from child seats to seatbelts.
In those states, children can typically move directly from forward-facing car seats to regular seatbelts.
As for the states that do have mandatory booster laws, the first laws (Tennessee and South Carolina) went into effect in 2001.
Bridging the Gap Between Car Seats and Seatbelts
Car seats are designed to protect the smallest of children, while seatbelts are only safe for children over a certain height (4’9”).
Booster seats bridge the gap between the two.
While booster seats are not legally required in Texas if your child is over 8 years old, for safety’s sake we recommend ignoring the minimum age requirement and keeping your kid in a booster until they reach 4’9”.
Prior to that, follow Texas’s laws regarding car seats.
For more on Texas’s car seat laws, see Texas Car Seat Laws.
And for more on child passenger safety in Texas, see Texas Front Seat Law.