As stated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children won’t be able to use the car seat belt independently until they are roughly 11 years old. Booster car seats, especially from Diono, are the best option for children between the season they outgrow those forward-facing harnessed seats and the time they’re old enough for the seat belt.
Boosters lift the child so the car seat belt properly fits their body while the lap and shoulder belts are placed to offer the best protection with the least amount of risk of injury. Here’s a guide on what you need to know about using a booster seat safely.
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Types of Booster Seats
- Belt-Positioning Boosters
With the help of these boosters, children can use the shoulder and lap belts in the car safely. Backless boosters are available in both high-back and backless variations. Some high-backed booster seats can be converted into seats without a back by removing the back. When the shoulders of your kid in a high-backed booster reach the belt positioners, they are ready for a backless booster. The seat belt shouldn’t lie on your child’s neck when they draw it over their torso.
High-backed boosters are small, light chairs that can or cannot be secured to the vehicle seat. The headrest in the rear is curved to prevent neck and head injuries in the event of a collision. You can adjust the headrest to be higher as your child grows. You can also use the belt-positioning hooks at the headrest’s base to place the shoulder belt so that it correctly crosses your child’s chest.
- Combination Seats
There is a five-point harness on these high-back car seats. When the harnesses are removed, they may be used as belt-positioning booster seats or as forward-facing safety seats. Children weighing 40 pounds and above should use a five-point harness.
Ask your car dealer about installing shoulder belts if the rear seat of your vehicle isn’t equipped with them. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests keeping children in a forward-facing seat with a complete harness if that is not an option.
Choosing a Booster Seat
Select a seat that satisfies or surpasses Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. If you decide to purchase a secondhand seat, get in touch with the manufacturer to see how long the seat is safe to use and whether it has ever been recalled. Recalls are rather frequent, and the manufacturer may be able to provide you with a new model or replacement component.
Be cautious while using a used booster seat:
- Look for the manufacturer’s suggested “expiration date” on the seat. Don’t use a seat if you are unsure about its history or if it shows symptoms of wear and tear such as cracks.
- Avoid seats that have missing components, don’t have the manufacturing model number and date identified, or don’t have an instruction manual.
- Never use a car seat that is older than six years or one that has been in a collision (even if it seems safe, it could not be).
How a Booster Seat Is Installed
Before each use, check the safety seat’s positioning. Read the booster seat product handbook and the owner’s manual for your car carefully before installing a booster seat. Make sure your child’s safety seat is placed properly by having it examined at a child safety inspection station.
In the rear seat, install the booster seat so that it faces forward. The middle of the rear seat, where there’s a shoulder and lap belt, is the ideal location. To verify the booster seat’s stability:
- Make sure your child’s hips are covered by the lap belt tightly
- Carefully read the booster seat’s instruction handbook
- Lap and shoulder belts must always rest flat; they must never be twisted
- Your child’s shoulder should have the shoulder belt laid flat and firmly across it, keeping the neck and face free
You can use the LATCH mechanism to secure a front-facing booster seat to the seat if you are using one. Check your car seat’s instruction booklet or the manufacturer’s website to see if LATCH is available in your vehicle. They ought to provide guidelines for using a booster seat without LATCH.
There may be tethers on a high-backed or backless booster to attach it to your car’s LATCH anchors. Even though it might seem useful, you don’t have to keep your booster seat in one place. The booster can be placed in the seat in which your child will sit if you are not using LATCH.
When Can a Child Use a Booster?
When your child reaches the height and weight restrictions for a front-facing car seat, you can switch them to a booster. A front-facing car seat’s weight restrictions might be as heavy as 80 pounds or more. Children with impairments who might require a car seat for a longer period of time than other children their age may find the expanded weight restrictions useful.
When Do Children Grow Out of Booster Seats?
Children can easily ride without using a booster seat when:
- They are between the ages of 8 and 12 and reach a height of 4 ft 9 in (about 150 cm).
- The shoulder belt fits snugly over the center of the chest, while the lap belt lays low on top of the thighs.
- They can sit upright with their backs against the seat back and their knees extended over the edge of the seat without slouching while using the lap and shoulder seat belts.
A car seat is one of the best safety devices for children. When your children outgrow their harness seats, they should make use of a booster seat to be certain their seat belts are comfortable and will protect them in an accident.