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Booster Seats Matter

I am on a hunt for a new car. If it wasn’t for my kids, I’d be fine with my current car. After all, it’s a hybrid, it runs, and it’s paid for, but unfortunately, the backseat isn’t big enough to fit more than two booster seats and that’s a problem.

Right now, I’ve got both my girls in Britax Frontier 85s, convertible boosters that can be used with a 5-point harness or with the regular seat belt. They are great, but big, so whenever I try and add a third kid back there, I am at a loss. I have two options: shoehorning the kid in between the two boosters and forgoing a booster seat for that child or leaving my little one home with a sitter so I can have the child sit in Little Girl’s booster. Both options are unappealing. Either I am driving around unsafely or I’m paying a sitter. When I explain my space issues, most parents don’t care, telling me to just put their kid in there without a booster. (One even told me to let her child sit in the front seat — I refused, and I digress.) This seems to be happening across the country, according to a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) study that was released today.

The study — Carpooling and Booster Seats: A National Survey of Parents — found that “more than half of parents carpool children other than their own, but they do not always use boosters for children who usually use one.” The study was published in the February, 2012 issue of Pediatrics, the AAP’s journal.

There was good news in the report. Around three out of every four 4- to 8-year-olds were using seat belts as per their state laws, but booster seat use, especially for carpoolers, wasn’t as good. Here’s the thing: national recommendations say that kids should be in boosters until they are 57 inches tall. My 8-year-old, for instance, is only 44 inches, so she’s got a while before she should give up her booster.

Here in New York the booster seat law requires kids under eight to be in a seat, but it also says that kids who are shorter than 4’9″ or who weigh less than 100 pounds should keep using their seat. Take a look at the brochure yourself. (And here’s an excerpt.)

An appropriate child safety restraint system:

  • Is required for all children until their 8th birthday and
  • Must meet the size and weight requirements for the child based on the Federal requirements and the recommendations of the manufacturer, and
  • Can be a child safety seat, a harness, a vest or a booster seat attached with the vehicle seat belt or latch system, but not the vehicle seat belt alone, and
  • Should not be used in the front seat of the vehicle.
  • If the child is eight years old and is under 4’9″ tall or weighs less than 100 lbs, it is recommended that you continue to use a child restraint system.

So yes, I need a new car, preferably one with a third row so I can safely transport my own kids and their friends. That’s really not too much to ask.

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One Response to “Booster Seats Matter”

  1. Fran says:

    You’re not alone, Karen! This is the main reason my husband and I don’t let our kids drive with other people. Whenever I’ve had houseguests with young kids I’ve made sure we had boosters and car seats for everyone that should be in one. For me there’s no question that it’s the right thing to do. Sounds like we might be in the minority though!

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