Your child needs a booster seat when he or she has grown too big for the forward-facing car seat. Your child will be too big when he or she reaches the height or weight limit for your car seat. Check your car seat instructions. Don’t be surprised to find your child might be 7, 8 or older before they outgrow a booster seat. It’s about height and weight not age so don’t be in a rush to move to the seat belt!
Seat belts are made to fit adults, not small children. If you are choosing a new booster seat, buy one with the highest possible height and weight limits. If you already have a booster seat, your child may outgrow the height or weight limit for the seat before he or she is big enough to use the seat belt. If this happens, your child will need another booster seat with higher height and weight limits.
When a child is too small for the seat belt, it touches the child’s neck and rides up on his or her belly. In a crash, the seat belt works by holding your child tight. This puts pressure on your child’s body. If the seat belt is in the right places, it puts pressure on the bones of your child’s shoulder, chest and hips. This is much safer than if the seat belt puts pressure on soft areas, such as your child’s neck or belly.
A booster positions the seat belt over the right places on your child’s body for safety. A booster seat keeps the seat belt over the middle of your child’s shoulder and chest. It keeps the seat belt away from the neck. A booster seat also helps the seat belt fit across your child’s hip bones.
If you think your child is big enough to use the seat belt, take our test.
- Check your child’s seated height. Have your child sit up straight in a chair. Measure from the tailbone to the top of the head. If that is at least 25 inches (63 cm), your child might be ready to use a seat belt.
- Check the way the seat belt fits your child. Have your child put on the seat belt in the vehicle, and ask:
- Does the shoulder belt go over the shoulder and across the middle of your child’s chest? It should not touch the neck.
- Does the lap belt fit low over the hip bones, under the child’s belly area?
- Do your child’s knees bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat? If your child does not fit the seat belt this way, he or she needs a booster seat to be safe. If your child moves too much or slouches, the seat belt will not fit safely. Remind your child to sit up straight. Do not let your child sit in any other position such as cross-legged, or with legs tucked up on the seat.
But remember that in Saskatchewan we have mandatory booster seat legislation that states all children who are less than 7, less than 4 foot 9 inches (145cm), less than 80 lbs. (36kgs) must be secured in a booster seat. The challenge is always keeping your child safe and secure. You might “mommy how come I need to ride in a booster when my friends don’t.” Encouragement that your child is much safer in a booster seat, when they meet the height and weight guidelines will lead the way to keep your child safe.
If you are a parent, grandparent, care giver, operator of a day care and wondering if your car seat is in the right place or if your child is safe and secure, book an appointment with us. Until May we will be handling all car seat requests by appointment but come May through September, in addition to appointments, there will be free monthly drop in clinics. We encourage you to your child safe and secure in t
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