While lots of help is available on car seat safety for infants, many people still have trouble with the seats. And then information on car seat safety for older children can be confusing. So let’s get back to basics on car seat safety for our school age children–when they need to move up from their infant seat, and when they’re free to leave a booster.
Children under 40lbs must be in a 5 point harness.
Be sure the harness is at or above the child’s shoulders and is “snug as a hug.” The car seat should be installed with less than 1 inch of movement at the belt path and the top tether always used.
Children who are a minimum of 40lbs and 5-6yrs old can move into a booster.
Be sure the lap belt sits low on the hips/thighs and the shoulder belt is midway between he shoulder and neck while remaining properly seated at all times.
Older children who are a minimum of 8yrs old OR 80lbs OR 4’9”, maybe ready to come out of a booster, IF they can pass ALL of these 5 steps:
- Back against the vehicle seat
- Knees bent at edge of the seat
- Lap belt low on hips/thighs
- Shoulder belt positioned midway between shoulder and neck
- No slouching or moving out of position.
Children all grow at different rates, so some children will stay in one stage longer than another. Referring to car seats or boosters as “baby seats” can upset a child or make them feel bad that they are still using one. Try referring to them as “safety seats” or “big kid seats,” as they are safety devices that are designed to optimally protect your child not to make them feel like a baby.
Always consult a Certified Child Restraint Technician to be sure your child is in the correct seat for their age and development.
Sharalyn, co-owner of The Car Seat Maven, is a Children’s Restraint Systems Technician-Instructor, certified by CPSAC. She has taken additional training in transport of children with special health care needs and works closely with the POM community.