Booster Seats: 9 Important Things to Know
Are you confused about whether your child needs a booster seat? If so, you're not alone -- and your child is probably not helping by trying to convince you that every other child his age is already out of the booster! Here's the information you need to know to keep your not-so-little-one safe:
1. Children can transition to a booster when they are at least 4 years of age AND at least 40 pounds.
2. ã€€Why do children need boosters? ã€€
Here's a schematic showing your child's body in a crash with just a seatbelt and no booster:
Here's the schematic of your child in a crash in a booster:
Yep. It makes a BIG difference. Children in booster seats are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash than children just wearing seatbelts.
3. ã€€Booster seats come in two forms: high-back and backless (combination seats can transition between the two). High-back boosters offer several added elements of protection. They keep sleeping children more safely positioned and more comfortable. They provide an extra layer of protection at the child's back and neck. And in one study, they offered 50% better protection in side impacts.ã€€
4. ã€€High-back boosters that include five-point harnessing offer the best protection. Watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2kO8AxKbrM) to see the difference in a crash test.
5. ã€€Most families will need to invest in a couple different booster seats:
-- For your main vehicles, I recommend the Britax Frontier 90: It's a high-back booster that allows for five-point harnessing until 90lbs and general booster use until 120lbs, and it's specifically designed with side-impact protection. ã€€
-- This is another, less expensive option: Britax Parkway SGL Belt-Positioning Booster Seat.
-- Or this one: Cosco Juvenile Pronto Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat.
-- For portability (traveling on short trips with friends or family members, for example), this is a good one to keep on hand: Harmony Carpooler Backless Booster Seat.
-- For riding in taxis while traveling, I love the Bubble Bum. It's an inflatable booster that rolls up and can fit in a medium handbag or backpack.
-- Of note, here are two seats were specifically "not recommended" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 2013 ratings: Safely 1st All-In-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite. Avoid these.
6. ã€€Don't forget that carseats and booster seats have expiration dates. Just like anything plastic, they can lose some of their strength with time. Look for the sticker on the seat to see if an expiration date is printed. If not, assume that the seat should be replaced 5 years after purchase.ã€€
7. ã€€Children should remain in boosters until they are 57 inches tall and can meet all five of these requirements when buckled in using the regular lap and shoulder belt:
-- Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
-- Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
-- Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
-- Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
-- Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
Over 50% of 10-year-olds still need booster seats!
8. ã€€Once a child is ready to be out of the booster, she should still sit in the backseat of the car until at least age 13. (This is a recommendation based on musculoskeletal development, not size.)
9. ã€€Is your child complaining about being in a booster? Blame it on us, parents! We're happy to take the fall for you on this one!
Want more information? The Car Seat Lady's website is an awesome resource: www.thecarseatlady.com. Safe Kids is another great site: www. safekids.org.
Drive safely, everyone!