#CarseatFullstop: When is your child ready for a booster seat?
Determining when your child is ready for a booster seat can be something most parents neglect, I include myself in this. Once my eldest outgrew his car seat, we invested in a booster seat for him. He struggled with the adult safety belt in the back seat constantly moving over his neck and face which caused him discomfort. It’s something I made him live with, as there was no way I would let him sit without one. I’m a complete stiffler for kids being strapped in. I must admit, I didn’t do much research and went for the most affordable option when selecting a seat for him, as car seat safety to me meant having a seatbelt on and that was it.
When Mandy from Pregnant in Cape Town asked me to join the #CarseatFullstop campaign, I had a huge mind set change. After reading countless articles regarding car seat safety and the devastating stats, I knew that things had to change. Danny’s safety while driving in the car meant moving him to an appropriate booster seat.
But how do you know when your child is ready for a booster seat and what does a booster seat do?
The first thing you need to know about car seat safety is that seat belts in cars are designed for to fit an adult male, 1.5m or taller, not kids. The position of the seat belt is to “catch” or support the body at its strongest points in a crash. A person takes on the weight of the speed they are traveling multiplied by their body weight on impact. So if you weigh 50kgs and you are traveling at 100kmph and you crash, your body weighs 5,000kgs in that moment. The seat belt therefore needs to be able to hold your body of that weight, with your adult pelvis, chest and shoulder taking the brunt of that force.
A booster seat is designed to raise / boost a child up, so that the lap belt sits across the thighs and the shoulder strap stays firmly across the mid-shoulder and chest, therefore protecting their neck and abdomen.
There is a simple 5 step check you can do to test if your child is ready to use a seat belt without the support of a booster seat:
- The shoulder belt should sit exactly in the middle of your child’s shoulder
- The lap belt should sit low across the upper thighs of your child
- Your child’s back should be flush with the back rest of the car seat, with their bottom firmly where the back rest and seat meet
- While your child is sitting flush with the back rest, their knees should only bend past the edge of the seat and their feet should be flat on the floor
- Your child should be able to sit comfortably in that position, without moving, for as long as the car is moving
A booster seat should offer support on the sides, protecting your child from side impact should you be involved in an accident. It should also have additional padding, ensuring your child is both safe and comfortable. Your child’s head should always be protected against whiplash, so ensure that the booster seat you purchase comes above their ears when they are in the seat.
Our children are our most cherished possessions, why would we not want them to be safe. I’m so grateful to be a part of this campaign and to not only spread the word, but to educate myself on car seat safety for my family.
Parents who use booster seats for their children reduce the chance of crash related injuries, there is no doubt that using car seats saves lives.
As always take care and stay safe!