Moving a Child from a Booster Seat to Seat Belts...

Car booster seats are not about how old your child is, it's about safety and keeping your child protected during an accident. My sister-in-law gave us a booster seat when my nephew stayed over and I really thought he was "too old" for it, but even though he is six years old he is still not big enough to be in the car's seat safely without help from a booster seat. Today we have a wonderful guest blogger, Amy from Livesnet.com, here to help us learn when it's the right time for a child to move from the booster seat to the seat belt...

"Amy Brown is the editor of livesnet.com, a site providing helpful baby gear reviews and tips on problems moms encounter in daily life. She’s definitely willing to share her tips if you want to have the top baby gears such as a best rated booster seat for your little treasures."

How do I Know When to Move a Child from a Booster Seat to Seat Belts?

"After several years of placing your child in a car seat or booster seat and checking to make sure that the seat is secure, the belts are tightened, and the child is comfortable, a parent begins to fantasize about the day when the child can jump into the car and fasten his or her own seat belt. The arrival of that day, however, depends upon the age of the child, the child’s size, and the laws in effect in your state. The laws in some states are directed at the child’s age, while others consider the physical size of the child. Typically, a child is ready for the transition to seat belts when he or she is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. This, on average, takes place when the child is approaching ten years old.

If the child is not the right size, using an adult seat belt can cause serious injury. In a collision, a lap belt that lies across the child’s abdomen can cause damage to the spleen, stomach, or liver. If a shoulder belt lies across the child’s neck instead of his chest, damage to his ribs could result. If a child is small enough to maneuver his head so that the shoulder belt falls behind the head, then his head and neck are at risk for serious, possibly crippling, injury.

There is a simple observational test that can determine if your child is ready to rely upon the car’s seat belts for safety. Have the child sit in the front seat, secure him in position using the seat belts, and evaluate the following conditions.

• Is the child sitting all the way back against the car’s seat back?
• Are the child’s knees bent normally and comfortably at the front edge of the seat?
• Is the lap belt resting below the abdomen, touching the tops of his thighs?
• Is the shoulder belt lying across the center of his chest and shoulder?
• Is the child comfortable enough to stay in the seat belt for the extent of the planned trip?

If the answer to all of the above questions is “yes,” then using the car’s seat belts seems appropriate. If there is a “no” answer to any of the questions, keep the child secure in a booster seat.

This transitional period causes tension between the child, who is emotionally ready if not physically ready to use seat belts, and the parent, who is insistent upon the child’s safety. Don’t be tempted to use any “belt positioning” devices that are marketed to make the seat belt more comfortable for the child. These devices lessen the protective characteristics of the standard seat belts. If you need a device to seat your child comfortably using seat belts, the child is not ready and should remain in a booster seat for his own safety.

This is one of those difficult times when the parent must maintain an authoritative stand. Children may complain that they are “growing up” and are big enough to ride in the car like an adult. They are embarrassed when friends of the same approximate age are using seat belts, when they are forced to remain in a booster seat. Let them know that the condition is temporary and non-negotiable; that they will be using seat belts as soon as you determine that it is safe for them to do so."

You can contact Amy by email at Amy@livesnet.com, or you can find her on Facebook: facebook.com.

Top Photo: Blogs.Cars.com

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