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Mommy Soapbox: Booster Seats

Look at her fancy new ride! 🙂

A few weeks ago, I did a post on the new recommendations for children to remain rear facing until the age of 2. So, I figured I might as well step up and talk about boosters seats, since that is also a major issue for children in car safety.

First, let me say this: Just because a booster seat says that you can put your child in it at 30 pounds does not mean that you SHOULD. Big difference. There are lots of “readiness” requirements that your child should meet before you move from a five point harness (pictured with London above) to just using the seatbelt in a high back booster.

1. It is recommended that your child be at least 4 years old before they move to a high back booster using the seatbelt instead of a five point harness, and at least 40 pounds (NOT 30).

2. You child should stay in a harnessed car seat if, when falling asleep, they lean forward against the belt or slip to the side. Basically, if your child slips out of proper position at all while sleeping (meaning that the seat belt isn’t coming across his/her chest properly), then they need to be 5 point harnessed. Jackson just recently has been able to sleep while maintaining proper position, and he is almost 6. I mean, this just makes sense. If your child has slipped out of their seat belt and you get in an accident, that seat belt won’t work. While it may still restrain them from flying out windows, it may cause serious internal damage from the force of the belt against a sensitive area, such as the neck or abdomen.

To put it simply, you should not put your child in an unharnessed booster seat until they have outgrown the harness system in their current car seat, which is when the top of their shoulders are past the top level of the harness straps. Until then, they should remain in a 5 point harness, regardless of age or weight.

For those of you who claim that your child is too big for a harness system, check out this great option: The Graco Argos. It harnesses children up to 70 pounds. This one seat will take you all the way through; it harnesses until your child has outgrown the harness, then it transitions to a high back booster, then it transitions to a normal booster. It can hold your child until they are 120 pounds and until they reach the height requirement to ride boosterless, which is 4 ft 9 inches.

One more thing to check next time you harness your child: notice where the chest clip is on London. On her chest. Right where it is supposed to be. Make sure that the chest clip is on their chest, not their abdomen. The force of that clip on their bellies in an accident can cause serious internal injuries on a young child, so make sure it is correctly place on their body.

London loves her new seat!!! It is super comfortable, and was insanely easy to install.

Let’s just remember this: these recommendations aren’t meant to make our lives harder. They aren’t meant to tell you how to parent your children, to step on your toes, to delay “milestones”, nor create “mommy wars”. They are meant to protect our children in a time when we cannot: a car accident.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, ‘motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of children from ages 1 to 14.  About 50% of these deaths to children under 5 involved children that were unrestrained.  Of those that were restrained, misuse is reported in 80-95% of cases.  Injuries requiring hospitalization are even more common, and many involve the head, neck, and spine.  Some of these injuries are permanent.’

Here are some links to check out on your own:


One response »

  1. There is a product out called BuckleBiters that is specifically for older kids who are using boosters. It helps keep the buckle upright so that kids can buckle themselves in and it makes the booster seat a little more enjoyable for the older ones I think. It can help parents ensure that the seat buckle is latched properly, too. We just bought new seats that harness up to 65lbs and transition to booster seats up to 100lbs I think – I’m glad options like that exist now!


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