If you’re a regular reader here, you know that car seat safety is a very important topic that I like to discuss occasionally. I tend to focus on extended rear facing car seats until the age of at least 4 years old but I have never discussed the importance of booster seat safety for older children.
Booster Seat Safety
Most parents know that it’s safer for older children to ride in boosters—in fact 4-5 year olds using booster seats have a 67% reduction in fatality risk vs. other 4-5 year olds riding unrestrained. What some parents may not know is what booster seat laws apply to them, as they vary by state and can be pretty confusing. For example, in some states all children under 8 years old must be restrained in a booster, and other states only require children to 4 years old to use one. Although the AAP recommends that children ride in booster until the age of 12 or 57’, only 13% of children 54-56” do.
My older three kids were in car seats back in 2003-ish… and I was getting ready to get rid of all three car seats. I was ‘following the law’ (because that’s all I knew at the time) and the kids didn’t “need” them anymore. It just-so-happened that the law changed that year and I was also planning a 22 hour drive from Illinois down to Florida… so I went out and purchased three brand new booster seats. The kids stayed in those for a few more years and were perfectly happy – and safe. I’m really glad I kept the kids in their boosters, now looking back.
Don’t Rush Your State’s Minimum Requirements
Parents, please keep in mind, the state laws are the minimum requirements. There is no reason to turn your 1 year old forward facing, you can keep them rear facing for a few years. And as long as your child has a car seat that fits their height and weight, there is no reason to take them out of a forward facing car seat with a 5-point harness. Once they do outgrow the requirements of the car seat, then please, please find a safe booster car seat that will position the car shoulder and lap belt properly.
Keep those kiddos safe!