Booster vs. Seat Belt Alone
A booster positions the adult seat belt properly on a child’s body, because a poorly positioned seat belt is a major source of injury to spinal cord & abdominal organs. When a child has outgrown their booster seat and meets all of the following 5 criteria (usually about 10-12 years old and not before age 8), they are ready for an adult seat belt alone.
- Child sits comfortably, all the way back in the vehicle seat, with their knees bent at the edge of the vehicle seat.
- Shoulder belt fits evenly and flush across the torso, not cutting into the neck or face.
- Lap belt is low on the hips, touching the tops of the thighs (not on the abdomen).
- Feet are on the floor.
- Child can remain seated comfortably this way for the entire ride.
All children must ride in the back seat of the vehicle until age 13.
A belt-positioning booster seat helps to position the adult’s seatbelt correctly over a child’s body. Unlike with the 5-point harness, in a booster, a child can move freely. If a child moves out of the proper belt position, the seat belt can potentially fail to protect them in a crash or sudden stop.
The decision to move from 5-point harness to booster is rooted in the child’s behavioural maturity – the ability to sit correctly for the entire ride, 100% of the time. For most children, this happens somewhere between 5-7 years of age.
Moving a child to a booster seat gives them freedom to lean sideways, slouch, pick up something off of the floor, etc. If a child is out of the proper position at the time of a crash, that leaves them vulnerable to serious injury.
The best practice minimum recommendation for moving to a booster seat, is when your child is:
- At least 5 years old.
- Meets the weight and height minimums for the booster seat you’re considering.
- Responsible enough to sit properly 100% of the time, even while asleep.
- Gets a safe belt fit in the booster seat.
Please note that the legal minimum is not in-line with the current safe best practice minimum recommendations.
Rear facing is the safest way for children to travel. It is the best way to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries. A child should ride in a rear-facing car seat AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.
It is best practice to rear face to a minimum of age 2, or ideally, the maximum when the child reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the convertible car seat manufacturer.
If your child has outgrown the limits of their rear-facing-only infant car seat before they are old enough to face forward, choose a convertible car seat that will continue to accommodate your child rear-facing before converting to the forward-facing mode.
More about the rear facing basics, science, and crash dynamics with videos and rear-facing FAQs.
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How-To-SAFETY technicians are nationally certified in Child Passenger Safety through the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program created by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in cooperation with the National Child Passenger Safety Board and Safe Kids Worldwide.
We are additionally trained in “Safe Travels for All Children: Transporting Children with Special Health Care Needs”, a curriculum developed by National Center for the Safe Transportation of Children with Special Healthcare Needs and the Automotive Safety Program at Indiana University School of Medicine.
Road injuries are the leading type of preventable injuries and deaths to children. However, 9 out of 10 car seats are not used properly. When used correctly, car seats, booster seats, and seat belts can reduce the risk of death in children by as much as 71 percent. Let a certified CPST teach you how to install your car seat properly and how to keep your child safer in the car.
It gets confusing! Car seats and vehicle seats vary in design. There are many considerations and adjustments that often need to be made with every individual installation. It’s no surprise that 9 out of 10 car seats are not installed correctly.
Car seats are unlike any other baby gear – they are a sophisticated and complicated pieces of safety engineering based on crash dynamics and high-speed tests. For car seats to work as they are intended, it is important to use them with their engineering in mind. Even small adjustments can make a difference in a crash!
When it comes to your child’s safety on the road, you look to us for Expertise, Service, and Convenience. We are qualified, knowledgeable, and up-to-date. We work with you to accommodate your needs, take the time to teach you, and we come prepared!
Child passenger safety is very technical, comprehensive, and dynamic – changes in the field happen quickly! We are always staying on top of it – through industry events, conferences, continuing education, seminars, updates, and coordination with other technicians, leading professionals, and caregivers.
FDNY and NYPD in New York City are not permitted to assist with car seat installations. NYC Firefighters and Police Officers are NOT trained Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPST).
FDNY and NYPD are great when it comes to fighting fires, preventing crime, rescuing, and general public safety, however they do not receive training when it comes to car seat safety. When it comes to car seats, fire and police stations can inadvertently make critical installation mistakes. CPSTs share a common goal with Firefighters and Police Officers – that is public safety!
*Other areas outside NYC, may have certified law enforcement officers, firefighters, or CPSTs on staff. Check by searching for fitting stations in your area on www.NHTSA.gov.
Yes. However, it may be difficult to find an appointment that fits your schedule. Free check up events (usually hosted by NYC DOT) typically run several times a year and last a couple of hours at locations throughout NYC. Always, be sure that the person helping with your car seat is a certified CPST or CPST Instructor.
Experienced parents can give some great parenting advice, but rarely about car seats. With such high installation error rates (90% of seats not used correctly), it is most likely that even those seasoned parents could benefit from a professional car seat inspection.
The best seat is the one that fits your child, your car, your needs and your budget. It is the seat you can use correctly every time.
How-To-SAFETY does not promote any car seat brand, but we might be able to suggest some options that will fit your needs better than others.
Remember, the most expensive car seat incorrectly installed is MUCH MORE DANGEROUS than the cheapest car seat installed properly.
Learn more about Car Seat Basics and choosing the appropriate seat for your child.
Your child can be present, but it is not a must.
- Bring your your child, if possible. It’s best to have your child attend the car seat check to make sure the seat fits the child properly. The installation process requires your attention, so having another adult with you to help watch your child can be very helpful.
- If your child will not be present during the seat check, we may need to know your child’s torso height (seated shoulder height). Here is how to measure it:
- Sit your child into the car seat and note where the child’s shoulders are relative to the back of the seat (or between which harness slots are the shoulders).
- Alternately, sit your child on the floor against a wall. Measure up from the floor to the top of the shoulder.