Most of us are well aware that seat belts have made travel significantly safer for all of us and that children’s safety while traveling has similarly been improved due to use of car seats, restraints and booster seats.
Why the booster seat is important
You should shift to a booster seat when your child has outgrown the car seat: typically when the child has turned 4, is too tall for the car seat, or when he or she is over 40 pounds in weight.
It is important for parents not to skip straight to the car’s seat belt that is meant for adults and not children.
This is because an adult sized seat belt when used for children may actually cause harm to the child rather than protect and children need to use a booster seat till at least 8 years of age and longer for smaller kids (under 4 feet 9 inches).
A car seat belt will fit over the child’s tummy and the neck. This could cause spleen and stomach or neck damage in the case of a crash. In many states of the US a booster seat is a legal requirement.
How to choose the right booster seat
It is estimated that about 73% of child restraints are not properly installed or properly used. What parents need to look at is that the booster seat positions the car seat belt properly: the lap belt should lie flat across the thighs of the child and not go around the abdomen. Also the shoulder beltshould fit across the middle of the shoulder and not the neck.
Check to see what type of car or vehicle a given booster seat is compatible with and don’t use incompatible ones because these will be not only ineffective but may actually result in more damage.
Consider whether you want the kind which is like a chair or whether you want a backless one that uses the car’s backrest for supporting the child’s back. If a car has high seats a backless booster seat may be good, but if not, a booster seat with back support is a better idea to support the head and neck in case of a collision.
Check to see that the model you’re getting is not obsolete (if second hand) or that it is not one of a recalled lot; that if follows manufacturing guidelines set.
Follow instructions correctly to install and position the booster properly so that your child gets the best support and protection from the booster seat.