Safety First: Reasons Why You Should Use a Kids’ Booster Car Seat
The biggest responsibility we have as parents is keeping our children safe. Road safety is important for everyone, and our kids aren’t an exception. In fact, their bodies are still developing, and their bone structure is fragile, which makes keeping them safe in the car even more important. It seems that we care more about this when they’re babies. But, as they grow up, we tend to forget how important it is for them to sit correctly in a car.
Has your child already outgrown their forward-facing car seat? How can you ensure safety for older toddlers and children who aren’t ready to travel without a safety seat yet? There is a simple solution called a car booster seat. What are car booster seats, and why you should use one?
What Are Booster Seats?
According to Healthy Children, a division of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing seats.”
The same organisation advises that “all children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly.” The recommendations are that children should use booster seats until they’re at least 145 cm tall. Most children will need a good quality kids booster car seat up until they’re between the age of 8 and 12.
Another thing to consider is if your child can sit with their back against the car seat with the knees completely bent over the edge of the seat. If they can, they no longer need a booster seat. If their knees are on the top of the vehicle seat, they likely still need a booster, as it allows your child to sit higher so that the car seat belt fits correctly.
When Can a Child Move From a Car Seat to a Booster?
How can you tell that your child has outgrown its facing-forward 5 or 6-point harnessed seat? When is a child ready to move to a booster seat? These are some of the general guidelines:
Physical Signs of Readiness
- Every harnessed seat’s instruction manual has listed weight and height limits. When your kid reaches these limits, it may be time to get out of their harness seat.
- Another sign is if the top harness slots get below the kids’ shoulders.
- If the tops of your child’s ears have reached the top of the seat, they’ve outgrown their current car seat.
Mental Signs of Readiness
Even if your child is old enough and fits within the height and weight range of a kids booster car seat, that doesn’t mean that they are ready to sit in one. Either they can’t sit still or are still wiggly in their seat, they should stay in a harnessed booster, as not sitting correctly can lead to injuries. Once they’re mature enough to sit and act appropriately at all times in their seat, then it may be time to move them to a booster seat. This typically happens when they’re 5 or 6 years old.
Types of Car Booster Seats
Backless Booster Seat
This is the traditional booster seat that is practically a cushion that elevates your child to the height needed to fit the vehicle seat belt. Some models feature a latch system that you need to install, and some are simple cushions that only need to be put on the seat. Backless booster seats shouldn’t be used in vehicles without headrests and are usually the best option for older children, as they may find other options babyish. These booster seats are lightweight and compact, making them a good option if you change cars regularly and want your child to stay protected in a taxi or grandparents’ car.
High Back Booster Seats
These booster seats have a high back that provides extra support and cushioned wings around the neck, head, and sometimes sides for shock absorption. High back boosters have seat belt guides for easier seat belt regulation, and most models can be secured to the vehicle seat with a latch system. They’re best for smaller children who need extra back and neck support and for the car sleepers. Some models have a removable back, so they can quickly become backless seat boosters when you no longer need the back for extra support.
Combination Booster Seats
These car seats are high back seats with a removable harness 5-point system. They’re perfect if you want to get the best bang for your back when it comes to kids’ safety car seats. They grow with your baby. You can use the harness system as long as possible, and when your child outgrows it, you remove the padding and get a high back booster seat.
What’s the best booster seat for a car? There’s not a right or wrong answer to this question. It all depends on your child’s age and maturity. However, research has shown some excellent reasons to keep your child in a booster seat with a high back for as long as possible.
Why Use a High Back Booster Seat for as Long as Possible
Studies have shown that children between ages 4 and 8 that ride in a booster are 59% less likely to be injured in a car crash than those who wear a seat belt alone.
Seat Belt Fit
The belt seat guides that high back booster seats ensure the best belt fit. The lack of guides on backless seats, on the other side, may affect the belt fit at the child’s shoulders. Children are squirmy and move around a lot, which can additionally reposition the seat belt if it doesn’t fit properly. This is unsafe and can lead to injuries.
High back booster seats have tested better at the positioning of the lap seat belt, as well. The backless boosters are the runner up, and the seats that have removable backs showed as worst in the lap seat belt test.
The lack of a booster’s back can affect the way the child seats. This can cause the child not to bend over the edge of the cushion and to slouch over. The child may not be comfortable at all, which can also cause bad posture. This additionally impacts the lap belt shift onto the soft tissue of their abdomen, leading to injuries.