When To Move From Carseat To Booster
Under three, use a car seat. The guidelines for transporting infants and toddlers are deeply embedded in parental mantras. It gets a little fuzzy though when your youngster hits hyper-drive and grows out of his front-facing car seat.
Today, less than 10% of children ages 4 - 8 use a booster seat when riding in cars. National traffic and safety organizations have confirmed that your child needs to be restrained appropriately when riding in a car. This means supplementing the standard adult-sized seat belts with additional equipment to keep your child safe.
The child restraint system you use changes as your child grows. You started with the rear-facing infant seat, then graduated to the front-facing car seat after your child was one year old. Some state laws only require a car seat up to the age of three and parents may assume their child is safe in just a seat belt, but this is not the case.
When your child outgrows his front-facing car seat, he is still not big enough to fit properly in an adult seat belt. To keep him safely restrained, you will need to use a belt positioning booster seat. Any child who cannot sit with his back straight against the seat back and have his knees bend over the seat edge is not big enough to be restrained with just an adult safety belt.
There are two types of booster seats available:
No-Back Belt-Positioning Booster Seats. These seats are used with a lap/shoulder belt and are for use in vehicles with built-in head restraints.
High-Back Belt-Positioning Boost Seats. These seats provide head and neck support for your child if your vehicle seat back does not have a head restraint.
When a booster seat is not used, the lap and shoulder belts end up being positioned in dangerous areas on a young child and may cause serious or fatal injuries in the event of a crash.
A booster seat lifts your child up so the seat belt fits right and protects your child. The lap belt should fit low across the hip area. The shoulder belt should cross his chest and rest snugly on the shoulder. Your child's ears should not be higher than the seat back cushion or the back of a high-back booster seat model.
Important things to remember about using booster seats:
Always use both the lap and shoulder belt. Do not tuck the shoulder belt behind your child's back or under his arm. He could be seriously hurt if you are in an accident.
Replace a booster seat that has been in an accident. It may have defects that you cannot see.
Have your child safety seats inspected by a certified child safety seat technician in your community. You can contact your local police or fire department or call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's toll-free hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT.
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