Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Can my child use a booster seat?

My son is 3 years old and weighs 32 pounds. I found a booster seat that says it can be used at 30 pounds. Is this a good choice for an extra seat in Grandma's car? His main seat is an Evenflo Chase in my car.

No. Your son is way too young and too light to use a booster seat. The minimum for booster use should be 4 years and 40 pounds. A child less than 40 pounds doesn't fill out the seatbelt well and can submarine (slip under the seatbelt) in a crash.

My daughter is 3 1/2 and weighs 38 pounds. She needs a new seat as her only goes to 40 pounds. Is the Highback Graco Turbobooster a good seat?

Yes, that is a nice booster, but not for your daughter. At only 3 years old, she too young for a booster and should remain in a harness. The minimum for booster use is 4 years and 40 pounds. However, many children aren't mature enough to sit properly the entire ride until 5-7 years old. I would suggest the Graco Nautilus, Safety First Apex 65 (If your vehicle has headrests), or the Britax Frontier. They will all keep your daughter in a harness longer (up to 65, or 80 pounds). They can also convert to a booster once she's old enough.

Here are some videos on children that were too small for the booster seats they used.
Isabelle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYDasLZh1Tk&feature=related
Another for Isabelle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPBSEQ4xbTw&feature=related
Kyle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azgBhZfcqaQ&feature=related
Kyle's family on Good Morning America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pDnBO76RFM&feature=related
Toni http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G59s3PjcntQ&feature=related

Those videos are not saying booster seats are bad, or that your child needs to be in a harness forever. They're simplying showing you what can happen if a child is too young/small for a booster; even if they meet the minimum requirements on the seat.

If you want to support a group that donates high weight harness seats to families that can't afford them, please visit the Kyle David Miller Foundation http://www.kyledavidmiller.org

41 comments:

LN said...

I don't know how to email you so I'm posting my q here...
My son is starting school next year and will be driven by someone else. He is about 30 lbs currently, and as such needs to be harnessed. We currently have an Evenflo Chase and I need to get another carseat for the other car. I prefer not to spend as much as we did on the Chase, but I can understand it.
The problem is that the driver has a Camry, and 3 carseats/boosters in the back. She needs the carseat to be narrow enough that she can buckle in the 2 kids who will be using boosters. I see from your reviews that the Graco CarGo is narrow. What other narrow carseats are there? I don't need any frills -- he won't be in the carseat for more than 20 minutes at a time. Thanks!

CarseatNanny said...

What are the other seats in the Camry? What year is the camry? How old are the other children and about how much do they weight?

CarseatNanny said...

You might also want to ask the question at www.car-seat.org. There will be more people there familiar with what will fit in a Camry.

LN said...

Thanks for that tip...I haven't been on car-seat.org for a while; I forgot about it.
Camry is probably around an 01 by looking at it. She's not yet sure which seats she'll have in there. She has a 6 year old in a low back and someone else is bringing a high back...I was just wondering if you knew which FF carseats have a narrow footprint...

CarseatNanny said...

The Radian would be your best bet for narrow. But it's an expensive seat. The Graco Cargo would probobly be your best bet for an inexpensive narrow combo seat.

Anonymous said...

hi, your tips and video links changed my mind. Thank you

LN said...

I'll take a look at the Cargo -- also the Combi Coccoro was suggested to me.
I have to compare plushness, but the Combi Connection I have seems very comfortable for my baby...if I'm spending this amount, it might be worth it to get a more comfortable FF car seat so I can use it on long trips (my son complains about his Chase)...thanks for your input. I'm also waiting to hear what carseat.org users have to say :)

CarseatNanny said...

annonymous, I'm glad my blog helped you :) It is here to help inform caregivers and keep children safe.

LN,
I did see your post on c-s. Glad they had some great ideas for you.

Anonymous said...

Hello, my son is 6.5 years old and weighs about 68 lbs. In Connecticut, where we live, a child must remain in a booster until they are 6 and 60lbs. In my mind, what is required by law and what is the safest for a child are not necessarily the same thing. Especially since I see that other states have requirements that children stay in their boosters until age 8. When is it appropriate to take the booster seat away?

CarseatNanny said...

You're right. There is a big difference between legal and safe. A child no longer needs a booster when the child can pass the 5 step test. Usually between 10-12 years old.

1- Sit with back flat against the vehicle seat
2- knees bend comfrtably over the edge of the vehicle seat (w/o scooching butt forward)
3- lap belt rests low on the hips, not on the stomach
4- shoulder belt rests on the middle of the shoulder. Not cutting into the neck
5- they can sit that way for the entire ride

Anonymous said...

My child is just over 2, but is over 40lbs. Due to his weight can he use a booster seat now?

CarseatNanny said...

Anonymous-
No, a 2 year old is not safe in a booster seat. Young children can submarine under the seatbelt, or even be thrown out. Two year olds are also not mature enough to sit properly, causing the seatbelt to not protect them in a crash.

If your current carseat only goes to 40 pounds, he needs a high weight harness seat. Some examples are: Evenflo Generations 65 ($99), Graco Nautilus ($145-180), Britax Frontier ($250-270 I think). If your vehicle has headrests, you could also use the Safety 1st Apex ($95-120).

If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me at kegutierrez@yahoo.com

Combi Car Seat said...

Combi gots a very good booster seat. ill look into that brand

Heather said...

My daughter is 4 1/2 years old but only 30 lbs. can I put her in a booster yet?

CarseatNanny said...

Heather,
Many 4 year olds are not yet mature enough to sit properly in a booster seat. However, even if your child is one of the few that is mature enough, she doesn't weigh enough. The Minimum for safe booster use is 4 years AND 40 pounds. Children really need to be at 40 pounds to properly fit the seatbelt and no submarine under the lapbelt in a crash. At her age and weight, she'd be safest in a properly used harness seat.

lucytilly said...

Hi. My daughter is 93 cm tall n havin grow spurt n the straps on her forward facin car seat no longer fit same with other booster seats with straps so will it b safe for her to go into a booster chair? Really need help if u can. Thanks. X

CarseatNanny said...

Lucytilly,
How old is your daughter? At 93cm (about 36 inches), she's probably between ages 2 and 4. What harnessed carseat is she currently using? What other seats have you tried? There are many seats with taller harness slots that can keep kids harnessed until ages 5-7. At age 2-4 years, I would NOT recommend butting her in a booster seat. I'd be happy to help you find an appropriate harnessed seat.

Anonymous said...

i think if your kid is tall enough (beacuse obviously their not gonna fit into a car seat any longer) you should start useing a booster seat cause when they've out grown the car seat its not gonna be safe for them either. My child is goin to reach the 4 9" standerd probly around 6 or 7 so the booster seat will be needed before your 4yrs old 40lbs standerd too. The set weight and age is not always going to work sorry to tell you

CarseatNanny said...

Anonymous-
Carseats come in a wide range of sizes. You're right, if the child has outgrown the carseat by either height (when the shoulder are above the top slots, or the tops of the ears are above the top of the carseat) or by weight, the seat isn't safe for that child. However, there are carseats that can hold a child up to 85 pounds, with a torso (sitting, floor to shoulder)of 20 inches. My 10 year old is average height and would still fit with plenty of room, but she uses a booster seat.

What is the 49" standard? Is that on your carseat? Or are you thinking of 4'9"?

There are carseats that can keep a child harnessed until they meet the minimums of 4 years and 40 pounds. There are even ways to get a seat donated if you don't have the money to buy one.

The problem with young children using a booster seat is they don't have the maturity to keep the seatbelt positioned properly all the time. If the child doesn't have the seatbelt positioned properly, they could suffer greater injury or be ejected from the car. Children under 40 pounds are more susceptible to submarining under the seatbelt in a crash.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 5.5 years old @ 45" and 35 lbs. Is she too small for a booster?

Thanks!

CarseatNanny said...

Anonymous,
At only 35 pounds, you're 5.5 year old would likely still be safer in a harness. I'd like to see child at least age 6 if they're 35-40 pounds in a booster. With less weight, they will fit the seatbelt differently, and may be more likely to submarine under the lap portion of the lap/shoulder belt.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the information you have posted, especially the links to the youtube videos. I was thinking today of buying my almost 4 year old daughter a booster seat and giving her younger sister her carseat. Now I will just go out and buy more of the 5 point harness carseats. The sad part is that the cost of the 5 point harness carseats is what made me think of buying the booster seats, but no amount of money can be put on the price of my child and her life.

Anonymous said...

I have a 4 1/2 yr. old daughter. She weighs 43 lbs. Does she have to still be in a booster carseat? And for how long?

CarseatNanny said...

A 4 1/2 year old, 43 pound child, is safe in a belt positioning booster seat if he/she has the maturity and impulse control to sit properly the entire ride. Otherwise, she needs a 5 point harness seat.

If you're asking if she can be in NO seat, the answer is NO. Children need to remain in a harness or booster seat until the can pass the 5 step test, usually between ages 10 and 12.

Kristi said...

My five year old is 40lbs... Should he be in a booster seat now??

CarseatNanny said...

Kristi,
Is your 5 year old mature enough to sit properly in the booster seat for the entire ride? If so, he may be ready for a booster seat. Most children are ready between ages 5 and 6.

Anonymous said...

I was reading this as I am looking for a new carseat for my 2 year old son. I had read that the Britax Frontier was a good choice.. While looking for prices I came across this recall for the carrseat. http://www.frontierrecall.com/

CarseatNanny said...

Annonymous,
Thank you for posting about the Frontier Recall. I already wrote about it when it happened in 2008 http://carseatnanny.blogspot.com/2008/12/britax-reaclls-frontier-april-1-sept-18.html

Also, if you want maximum protection for your 2 year old, I would highly suggest rear facing for another year or 2.

Booster Child Seat said...

My daughter is 5 years old and weighs 26 kgs. I want a booster seat that says it can be used at 26kgs for my car?
Because my daughter is so activ :)

Anonymous said...

My son just turned 3, he 38 pounds and hes been in a booster seat with the lap and shoulder belt across his chest. Its not going across his neck or anything. Is it safe? Or should the shoulder belt be behind him? My sister in law recently told me that its not safe to have the shoulder part in front, that it should be behind him. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous.. Your 3 year old still needs to be in a five point harness. Never put the shoulder belt behind them it is dangerous!

CarseatNanny said...

The shoulder belt should NOT go behind the child's back or under their arm. It should go across their chest and their shoulder. However, the bare minimum for booster use is really 4 years and 40 pounds. Many children aren't mature enough to use a booster until age 5 or 6. But a 3 year old really should be in a 5 point harness.

3 kids said...

My daughter will be 5yrs next month she is 42" tall and 38lbs. Does 2lbs really make a difference. Can I put her in a booster?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but this 10 -12 age thing is kinda ridiculouse if you ask me

CarseatNanny said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry you disagree. However, the seatbelt is made to fit an adult. Children don't typically fit properly until age 10-12. It's about seatbelt geometry and child growth, and physics. It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is six, but is very petite. She is probably about 32lbs and 42" tall. I currently have her in a five point harness seat, but wanted to get a booster for my husbands car because he picks her up once a week for me from dance class. Is there one you would recommend?

Anonymous said...

My daughter is six, but is very petite. She is probably about 32lbs and 42" tall. I currently have her in a five point harness seat, but wanted to get a booster for my husbands car because he picks her up once a week for me from dance class. Is there one you would recommend?

Anonymous said...

Very good info on here. I think the minimum weight/height is a guideline. My 5 year old could technically be in a booster (meets height/weight/maturity), but she's tall and thin and could easily slip out in an accident.

On another note, I agree that seat belts are designed for adults, but I am an adult who is only 60"...so, what, should I be in a booster, too?! I think it needs to be more specific.

Jennifer Thobe said...

My daughter will be 4 in a couple months and weighs about 26 pounds...I have a 5 point harness carseat in my vehicle and plan on keeping her there for awhile. But her father has a booster seat using the seatbelt. I've expressed my concerns with him and he doesn't care, he's going to do it anyway. What can I do? oh, and we're not together and rarely get along. I'm just worries he's doing it to get under my skin and I don't want her to get hurt over his immaturity.

Anonymous said...

My son is 3 he weighs about 50 pounds he is about 3 ft and 3 inches tall can I put him in a high back booster? He acts like he should be about 5 but I want what is best for my son

CarseatNanny said...

Annonymous, please email me at carseatnanny @ yahoo . com and I will be happy to answer any questions.