I admit it, I am shocked at the number of car seats I have had to buy to get my kid to 5. There was the infant seat. There was the car seat. There was a second car seat because the first one got vomit on it and was uncleanable. Now we have a booster. Omitted from this list is duplicates of everything because we’re a two car family.
Your kids will likely need 3 separate car seats to get them through their childhood. You may choose to buy a convertible seat that will face backwards, then forwards, then come apart like some sort of Transformer and turn into a booster, we chose to buy separate seats at each stage.
But when do you switch your kids in each stage? The requirements are listed by weight, but (and you can see where this is going) with our heavier society, the weight requirements aren’t necessarily matching up with age requirements which, according to Consumer Reports, is leading to some potentially deadly situation.
Of the 34 booster seat models in our tests, 28 state a minimum allowable weight of between 30 and 33 pounds. Current growth charts, however, show that the average 30-pound child is about two-and-a-half years old, far too young to move a child out of a seat with a harness, according to our safety experts.
When it comes to car seats, redshirting is a good idea. Hold your kids back longer to make them safer.
“Don’t rush to ‘graduate’ your child from their 5-point-harness into a booster seat,” says Alisa Baer, MD, a pediatrician in New York City known as the Car Seat Lady. “Before you let your child ride in a booster, make sure they are, ideally, at least 4 years old AND at least 40 pounds AND — perhaps most importantly — mature enough to sit properly in the booster for the entire trip. That means no squirming, slouching or leaning over.”
And don’t ditch the booster too soon. Kids need to stay in booster seats until the shoulder belt can fit comfortably on them, that could be as late as 12 years of age. Until your child is 4’9″, they should be in a booster.
Here are some more common sense booster seat reminders: