There you are getting ready for the first day of school and you are loading your kid up in the car. Suddenly, he begins to whine that because he is now in (insert grade level) he DOES NOT need to ride in a booster seat. You, being the parent and in a usual rush say: ‘Get in, we’ll discuss this later!’, shove him in the car, in his booster seat and drive off.
At drop off, you begin to notice kids of all ages and sizes, some younger and smaller than yours, are NOT in booster seats. You see how easy kids are jumping out of cars and running off. No tears, no whining. You look at your beautiful angel ready to tell him to have a great day. But he rolls his eyes, slamming the door and yells ‘SEE MOM – I look DUMB in a baby seat!’
Peer Pressure begins to set in.
Does my kid really need this $25 piece of plastic anymore? I mean he can tie his shoes, read chapter books and reach the microwave …. he’s surely big enough NOW right!? Once home you toss out the booster, never looking back. No more arguments!
I encourage you to look back.
Every step down in car seats, is a step down in safety, and this step is a vital one worth another look.
Make sure your child IS indeed ready for just the car seat belt. It is worth the fight and complaints from your child to make sure they are as safe as they can be. Booster Seats are actually called Belt Positioning Boosters – and they do just that. They are designed so that a car seat belt (that is intended for adults) is positioned on your child in the most correct way to keep them the best protected.
Per the AAP: “All children, who have outgrown their forward facing 5-point harness car seat limits by height or weight, should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly.” Children are not typically ready for just the car seat belt they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years of age. Most children will not fit in most vehicle seat belts without a booster until 10 to 12 years of age.
This picture is a prime example of how different kids grow and why ages doesn’t necessarily determine when they should be without a booster seat. One year can make a big difference.
Common booster seat questions & Facts
When CAN my child use just the seat belt?
For children to ride in a car using just the seat belt alone they MUST meet all 5 of these steps:
- Their back can stay flat against the vehicle seat – any slouching or sliding down can cause gaps between the body and vehicle seat. In a crash, this can cause a child to slip out from the protection of the seat belt.
- Knees bend at the edge of the seat.
- Lap belt sits on the top of the thighs not the belly – if the belt rides too high, towards the stomach, in a crash it can cause compression and damage to vital organs. We like to call this the Twinkie Zone. Imagine squeezing one in your hand, all the filling coming out.
- Shoulder Belt sits between neck and shoulder – too high and it impedes the neck area which contains important things like the trachea and spine. Too low on the arm and the belt essentially will slip off and become useless. Also, kids whose belts do not fit them properly, and they deem uncomfortable, are more likely to put it under there arm, behind their backs or not use at all.
- Must sit properly the entire ride – if kids are slouching, leaning, playing with the seat belt…etc. they may not be ready. Keeping the belt in place the entire ride is important for their protection.
(((( INSERT 5 STEP PICTURE))))
What can I say/show my child to help them understand why it is important?
We assume if your child is complaining about what they sit in, they can understand a bit of science. Videos can be really helpful in showing the difference between being in a booster seat and not. Watch with your children and discuss. Why would one be safer than the other? What kind of injuries do you think would happen in either of these circumstances?
My child carpools or moves between cars a lot. It isn’t the easiest to carry around a booster seat. Plus, I don’t want to annoy the other Moms.
Your child. Your rules. You are your child’s advocate for safety. Teach them to be vocal about what is safest for themselves. They do make booster seats that are compact, easy to carry and travel friendly. Call or email us and we can help you!
But the LAW says I don’t need to use a booster.
Let’s face it. Idaho Laws are not great when it comes to child passenger safety. While you won’t get a ticket for not having your child in a booster seat when they should be. Laws of physics do not care about state laws. Accidents happen. Injuries happen from accidents. How bad those injuries potentially are CAN be influenced by you and how you protect your child. Legal doesn’t always mean safe.
I am an adult who is under 4 foot 9, why don’t I need a booster?
This goes back to science. Your bones are mature and stronger than your child. This means your iliac crest has formed adequately and is able to keep your lap belt down on your pelvis well. We also encourage you to always buckle up, and make sure a belt is positioned on you properly too. Lead by example!
Back to the car line at school. You and child are now empowered about safety. No tears or struggles. He even yells “THANKS FOR KEEPING ME SAFE MOM” planting a big kiss on your cheek, as he runs out of the car. No eye rolls for you. He also is suddenly eating more vegetables since he knows the more he grows the closer he is to NO ‘baby seat.’