Many caregivers and children alike–at one point or another–start to long for the days of being able to go on car rides without needing additional, non-standard safety equipment.–Specifically, car seats or booster seats.
While these critically important safety devices have evolved significantly over the years–many even have features which would practically rival the most comfortable of recliners–as a whole, boosters are still grossly misunderstood.
More children are staying in 5-point harnesses for longer, but many still transition out of them, into seat belt positioning booster seats much too early. Because booster seats are still undervalued, they are also underutilized.–Children are not using booster seats for nearly as long as they need to be in order to be adequately protected in the event of a sudden stop or a crash.
But the Law Says…
While your state law may only require a child to use a booster until age 8 (sometimes even younger!), or you may hear that once they’ve reached the “magic height” of 4’9″ that they no longer need a booster seat. However, children do in fact need boosters for much longer than that. On average, children need to use boosters until somewhere between 10-12 years of age, and until they pass The Five-Step Test
Why is a Booster So Important?
It’s important to remember that seat belts are designed to fit adults, not kids. The purpose of a booster seat is that it “boosts” the child up, so that the seat belt fits them properly, contacting the strongest points of their body, further preventing injury to the more vulnerable areas of their body. For more information, there’s a fantastic video which was released by the Car Safety Now organization which can be found on our Facebook page as well as on their website. I strongly recommend watching it, but I will caution you–the subject matter is, of course very serious. The video portrays a car crash, and subsequent injuries are simulated. As such, there are parts of it which some viewers may find too difficult to watch.
What’s Safest for My Child?
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. Because there are so many variables to consider, there’s really no one-size-fits-all solution.–An option which might be best for one child may not be the safest option for the next child. Try to keep in mind that transitioning between the various stages of child passenger safety (rear facing to forward facing; forward facing to booster; booster to seat belt) should not be rushed.
You can take a look at some options which I frequently recommend here but for personalized recommendations I invite you to contact me directly. I’m always happy to help!