Updated on November 14, 2018
Boosters for Big Kids? Buckle Up with the Chicco KidFit
This year The Heir has really grown up! He’s started grade one, he rides the school bus to and from school, brushes his own teeth, can pour himself a bowl of cereal and milk without spilling, and insists he no longer needs any help drying off after a bath. He’s officially entered the realm of being a big kid. Did you know that big kids aren’t ready to ride in the car without any type of car seat or booster? It’s true. Just because your big kid is becoming more and more independent as the days roll on doesn’t mean the adult seat belt alone is going to keep them safe in a crash. When it’s time for your child to move out of a 5 point harness car seat, they need to move into a seat belt positioning booster seat. I recently switched The Heir from a forward facing five point harness car seat to the Chicco KidFit Booster seat. How do you know when it’s time to make this transition and how do you choose the right booster for your child? Many parents have all sorts of questions surrounding this exciting and sometimes daunting transition, but the good news is that as a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) I can help! I’m going to cover booster readiness with the new Chicco KidFit Booster Seat!
Chicco KidFit Booster Details:
First of all, what is a booster seat? A booster seat is a seat belt positioner. It does not have a five point harness built into the seat. A booster seat raises the child up on the vehicle seat so the adult seat belt fits the child correctly at the shoulder and across the upper thighs. The Chicco KidFit is a new booster seat to the Canadian market and has a lot of great features that I was looking for in a booster. The KidFit is designed for children who demonstrate an ability to sit properly in a seat belt. According to the KidFit manual, a child is ready to ride in this booster seat when they “can sit relatively still, in the same seated position throughout the car ride”, and “can leave the shoulder and lap belt properly positioned on their body, and can do this every time in the car”. The KidFit can be used as a high back booster, and can be converted to a backless booster.
The requirements for using the Chicco KidFit Booster are as follows:
High Back Booster Mode:
- at least 4 years old
- 40 – 100 lbs (18 – 45 kg)
- 38″ – 57″ (97 – 145 cm)
- the child must “demonstrate an ability to sit relatively still and properly in a seat belt at all times.”
Backless Booster Mode:
- at least 4 years old
- 40 – 110 lbs (18 – 50 kg)
- 38″ – 57″ (97 – 145 cm), child’s ears are below vehicle head restraint or below the vehicle seat back if that seating position has no head restraint.
- the child must “demonstrate an ability to sit relatively still and properly in a seat belt at all times.”
- shoulder belt clip must be used until the seat belt naturally lays flat against the centre of the child’s shoulder
- Lowest shoulder belt guide height: 13″
- Highest shoulder belt guide height: 19.5″
- Maximum width of the booster seat base with the cup holders folded in: 17″
- Maximum width of the booster seat back rest: 19″
- Expires 8 years after the date of purchase (proof of purchase required) or 8 years after the date of manufacture.
- Always buckle the seat belt on the KidFit when the seat is unoccupied in high back mode. This applies even when the booster seat is secured to the vehicle using the UAS. The UAS alone is adequate to secure the unoccupied KidFit when it is used in backless mode. If you are not using the UAS in backless mode, you must buckle the seat belt over the booster when it is unoccupied.
The Chicco KidFit comes out of the box requiring some assembly. There are no tools required for this and it is pretty straightforward. The KidFit manual has clear instruction for putting the booster together, installing it in the vehicle, and setting it up for your child. Be sure to take some time to read the manual cover to cover before you use the KidFit Booster. You’re going to start by installing the two cupholders, and then attaching the KidFit back rest to the booster seat bottom. This will only take a minute or two and then the KidFit will be ready to use in High Back Booster Mode.
The Chicco KidFit Booster has built in premium UAS which allows you to restrain the booster seat in the vehicle so that it does not become a projectile when it is not in use and so the booster doesn’t shift around when the child is getting in and out of the car. Using the UAS to attach the KidFit to the vehicle is optional and you do not need UAS anchors in your vehicle or at the seat where you want the KidFit to be positioned. If you are planning on using UAS to secure the Chicco KidFit to your vehicle, check your vehicle owner’s manual to ensure it is not prohibited in your vehicle.
When installing the KidFit in your vehicle the back rest of the KidFit must be snug against the vehicle seat back. If the vehicle head restraint leans forward leaving a gap between the back of the KidFit and the vehicle seat back, remove the vehicle head restraint if your vehicle owner’s manual permits this. If it’s not clear in your vehicle owner’s manual, call your vehicle manufacturer for clarification. If your vehicle owner’s manual prohibits the head restraint from being removed (or it’s fixed and cannot be removed), try the Chicco KidFit in another seating position. If the vehicle head restraint still interferes you can try using the KidFit in Backless mode or you may need to choose a different booster seat for that vehicle. Be sure to give Chicco a call if this is an issue in your vehicle as their customer service may be able to provide additional assistance.
Once the KidFit is installed in the vehicle, it’s time to adjust the booster so that it fits your child correctly. Using the Height Adjuster Lever on the back of the KidFit head rest, squeeze it and raise it up or down until the orange shoulder belt guide is positioned at or just above your child’s shoulder. The KidFit back rest has ten height positions. In each position the head rest and the back rest move up together offering DuoZone Side Impact Protection to the child’s head and shoulders at every height. Route the shoulder portion of the vehicle seat belt through the orange shoulder belt guide and make sure the seat belt is properly positioned at or just above the child’s shoulder. The lap portion of the seat belt is going to run under the first KidFit armrest, lay across the child’s upper thighs, then run under the second KidFit armrest. The shoulder portion of the seat belt is then going to run over the second armrest closest to the seat belt buckle. The seat belt must be routed this way in both high back mode and backless mode. This routing is different than the routing of many other booster seats on the market, so it’s important to take note of this and refer to the manual for your child’s booster seat if you’re ever unsure of the correct routing. Check that the tops of your child’s ears are below the top of the Chicco KidFit shell. If the tops of your child’s ears are above the top of the KidFit shell, then it’s time to remove the back and use the KidFit in Backless Booster Mode.
When your child first transitions from a five point harness car seat to a booster seat, you’ll want to start with the KidFit in High Back Booster Mode. This provides additional support and a physical reminder for the child to remain upright and seated properly. The head wings also provide a little more head support should your child fall asleep in the car. Removing the back rest and using the KidFit in Backless Mode must be done when the tops of the child’s ears are no longer below the top of the KidFit shell, when your child weighs more than 100 lbs, or when your child has demonstrated adequate maturity to not need the support of the back rest (even when they’re sleeping). When using the Chicco KidFit in Backless Mode, you’ll want to remove the Shoulder Belt Clip and Strap from its storage point under the booster seat bottom. You’ll want to adjust this Shoulder Belt Clip so that it is at or slightly above the child’s shoulders, the shoulder portion of the seat belt lays flat and snug across the child’s chest and the shoulder belt is centred so the belt does not rub their neck. The Shoulder Belt Clip must be used until the seat belt naturally lays flat across the centre of the child’s shoulder.
How do you know if your child is ready to ride in a booster seat like the Chicco KidFit? First, you’ll need to check that your child meets ALL the minimum requirements for the booster seat that you have. That means your child must meet the minimum weight, the minimum height, AND the minimum age listed in their booster seat manual before they can legally ride in that booster seat. In addition to meeting the minimum weight, you want to make sure your child is consistently over that minimum weight before they start riding in a booster seat. All booster seats in Canada have a minimum weight requirement of at least 40lbs (some booster seats have a higher minimum weight requirement, so always check the manual for your specific seat). Once a child reaches 40lbs for the first time, it can take three to six months (or longer) for that child to be consistently over 40lbs. In other words, the child must remain over 40lbs even when they’ve been sick or they must go back into a five point harness car seat (and we all know a child’s weight can fluctuate around a bad stomach bug or period of picky eating).
Once you’ve established that your child meets the weight, height, and age minimums for riding in their booster seat, you need to determine if they’re ready for the responsibility. Once those minimum requirements are met, booster readiness is all about maturity. Unlike a five point harness car seat where the harness restrains your child in a crash no matter what your child is doing while correctly buckled in, the vehicle seat belt can only protect your child if they are sitting in the correct position while riding in their booster seat. In other words, with a booster seat, you’re putting the responsibility of safety on the child. Your child must be mature enough not to play with the vehicle seatbelt. Your child must sit with their back upright against the back of the seat, and their bum must be scooched all the way back. They must not lean or reach out of position (even if they’ve dropped something on the floor), and they must not move out of position or slump over in their booster even when they fall asleep. They must maintain the proper position for the whole ride every ride. Realistically, most children are not mature enough for this until they are 6 years old. Some children won’t be ready until age 7. Some children may be ready after turning 5 years old.
If your child meets all the minimum requirements for their booster seat and is mature enough to sit properly for the whole ride every ride, you need to check that seat belt fits the child correctly. The shoulder portion of the seat belt must come from at or slightly above the child’s shoulder. The shoulder belt must make contact with the shoulder and not hover out in front of the child’s shoulder. The shoulder belt should be centred on the shoulder and not making contact with the child’s neck or hitting the outside edge of their shoulder. The lap portion of the seat belt must lay flat along the child’s upper thighs sitting low on their hips. Be sure the lap belt is not sitting across the child’s soft tummy area as this can result in internal injuries in a crash. Finally, you want to check that the shoulder portion of the seat belt is retracting properly. To check for this, buckle your child into their booster seat checking that the belt is properly positioned at their shoulder and across their upper thighs and that it’s routed correctly around the booster’s arm rests. Have your child lean their torso forward (think nose to knees) slowly then sit upright as fast as they can. If the shoulder portion of the seat belt stays against the child’s torso as they sit back upright, then it is retracting properly. If the shoulder portion of the seat belt lags behind the child or remains loose and not snug against their body, then it is not retracting properly. If this happens, try using the booster seat in a different seating position in the vehicle. If that doesn’t resolve the retraction of the seat belt, you may need to choose a different booster seat for your child.
How the Chicco KidFit Works for The Heir:
The Heir made the transition from a forward facing five point harness car seat to a high back booster seat shortly after his sixth birthday in August. As his parent, I made this decision after checking that he met all the maturity requirements for riding in a booster seat AND that he met the weight, height, and age requirements for the Chicco KidFit that I chose for him.
A few months before The Heir’s sixth birthday, he started to express an interest in riding in a booster seat. I talked to him about how riding in a booster seat would be different than riding in a five point harness car seat and explained the responsibility that goes with it. He felt that he was ready, but I knew he needed a little more time to demonstrate that he was prepared to stay in position before we made the switch. He had also just reached 40lbs at that point, and I wanted to make sure he was consistently over 40lbs before he moved into a booster seat. By his sixth birthday, he was 44 lbs and 44″ tall and therefore within the requirements for the Chicco KidFit Booster. I installed the KidFit in my vehicle and had The Heir hop in to give it a try. I showed him how to route the belt and buckle himself in, and from the very first try he did it correctly on his own. He was also able to buckle the seat belt over the KidFit when he got out of the booster seat. His ability to buckle himself correctly and to remember to buckle the KidFit when he got out reassured me that he was mature enough for the responsibility of a booster seat. Remember that you know your child best! You will be the best judge of their maturity and readiness for a booster seat once they meet the minimum weight, height, and age requirements.
The Heir has absolutely no complaints about the comfort of his Chicco KidFit, and I’m not surprised! The material is smooth and plush with nice cushioning and support. He rides in the KidFit in High Back Booster Mode with the back rest in position 6 of 10. In my vehicle, I have the KidFit installed using the UAS and with the vehicle head restraint removed and stowed safely in the trunk. I did try the KidFit with the vehicle head restraint in place, but I found that the KidFit had a gap behind it and it wasn’t sitting snug against the vehicle seat back with the vehicle head restraint in place. After checking my vehicle owner’s manual, I was able to confirm that the vehicle head restraint could be removed. Removing the vehicle head restraint allowed the back rest of the KidFit to sit snug and flush against the vehicle seat back. I would encourage any parent or caregiver considering any booster seat (or car seat) to try that seat in their vehicle before they buy. With the stipulation that the KidFit must sit snug against the vehicle seat back, you’ll want to be sure your vehicle head restraint doesn’t interfere and if it does, that it can be removed. If it interferes and cannot be removed, then the Chicco KidFit is likely incompatible in High Back Booster Mode in that vehicle.
Right from the get go, The Heir has found buckling and unbuckling the KidFit really straightforward. At six years old, he’s capable of routing the lap portion of the belt under both arm rests, buckling the seat belt, and then routing the shoulder portion of the belt over the arm rest closest to the seat belt buckle. Though this routing is different than most other booster seats, this is the first and only booster seat The Heir has ridden in. For him, remembering the seat belt routing for the KidFit is easy because it’s the only routing he’s ever known. If your child rides in different booster seats in different vehicles, you’ll want to double check that the seat belt has been routed correctly around the KidFit arm rests every time. Though The Heir does all his own buckling with the KidFit, I do a visual check every time. He knows to check for twists in the belt (another indication for me that he was mature enough to ride in a booster), but he isn’t always capable of correcting twists when they happen. I’ve taught The Heir to pull up on the shoulder portion of the belt above the belt buckle to remove any slack from across his upper thighs, and he knows to sit upright, back against the booster, and centred in the seat. When he does get sleepy, I encourage him to look up at the sunroof/ceiling of the vehicle. Looking up while falling asleep helps prevent any leaning or slumping out of position when he’s tired on a longer drive.
Though The Heir isn’t ready to lose the back rest of the KidFit, I did try him in Backless Mode just to see how the fit looks. Removing the back rest from the KidFit is really straightforward and takes just a minute. I love that the shoulder belt clip and strap is attached to the KidFit and has a storage point right in the seat. There’s zero chance of misplacing it and not having it available when we’re ready to use the KidFit in Backless Mode. In terms of fit, The Heir gets an excellent belt fit with the Chicco KidFit in Backless Mode using the shoulder belt clip to properly position the seat belt over his shoulder. When switching the KidFit from High Back to Backless Mode, don’t forget to put the vehicle head restraint back in position if you removed it for High Back Mode.
- Has premium UAS to restrain the booster seat in the vehicle (optional)
- Easy height adjustment in High Back Mode
- DuoZone Side Impact Protection
- Back rest moves up with the head rest from the waist
- Soft and plush material for a comfortable ride
- At a max of 17″ wide at the base with the cupholders folded in, it’s a relatively narrow booster seat
- Two cupholders that can be removed for cleaning
- Cupholders can fold up and in so they are flush with the sides of the booster seat base
- Fabrics can be spot cleaned or machine washed in cold water on a delicate cycle and hung to dry (see the manual for the full cleaning instructions)
- Because the back rest of the KidFit must be snug against the vehicle seat back, forward leaning vehicle head restraints that cannot be removed may result a gap behind the KidFit in High Back Mode. This would make the KidFit incompatible in High Back Booster mode.
- Routing of the lap belt under the arm rests but the shoulder belt over the arm rest is unlike most other booster seats on the market. Pay special attention to how the seat belt is routed every time.
Overall, the Chicco KidFit is an excellent booster seat. The option to use UAS to restrain the booster seat in the vehicle is great. Not only does it prevent the unoccupied booster from being a projectile in a collision, but it also keeps the booster in place on the seat while the child is jumping in and out. The fabric and finishing on the KidFit is great. The material is soft and plush with great cushioning for the child’s comfort. I love that in High Back Mode, the whole back rest moves up from the waist rather than just the head rest moving up. This allows that DuoZone Side Impact Protection to surround your child’s head and shoulders at every height in High Back Mode. Adjusting the height of the back rest is really simple with the orange Height Adjust Lever on the back of the head rest. The Chicco KidFit manual is also fantastic. It is clear, detailed, and straightforward. Still have questions after reading through the manual? Chicco’s customer service is wonderful and their agents are always happy to assist parents and caregivers. I really appreciate that Chicco has put a minimum age requirement of 4 years old to use the KidFit booster seat. Toddlers do not belong in booster seats. Even if a toddler is “big”, they really lack the maturity to ride safely in a booster seat. It is best to wait until at least age 4 to use any booster seat, but keep in mind that children tend not to be mature enough for a booster seat until they are between the ages of 5 and 7.
How would you like a chance to win a Chicco KidFit Booster Seat for your big kid? I’ve teamed up with Lindsay of Maman Loup’s Den and one lucky reader has the chance to win a Chicco KidFit Booster seat valued at $160 CAD from Elfe Juvenile Products! Just scroll down to the giveaway and get your entries in for a chance to win. This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, 18+, and closes on October 28, 2018. Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment.
Disclosure: Maman Loup’s Den and The Monarch Mommy are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other social media are not affiliated with this giveaway. Open to Canadian residents, 18 years of age and older. Confirmed winner(s) will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of the sponsor(s). For questions or to see your product featured on The Monarch Mommy blog contact Stefanie at http://themonarchmommy.com/work-with-me/.