Maine Families

Is Your Child Ready for the Switch to Booster?

We’re celebrating National Child Passenger Safety Week and all week we’ll be posting handy tips and reminders for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe when traveling. Help us spread the word by sharing this information with folks you know who transport kids.

Did you know that in Maine, children are not allowed to be in a booster seat until they weight 40 lbs? And many car seat makers also require that your booster-using child be 4 years old as well. Often parents move their child up from 5-point harness to a booster seat much too soon. It’s important to understand that the 5-point harness in your child’s car seat is designed, in the event of a crash, to spread crash forces across the 5 strongest points in your child’s body — in an effort to minimize the amount of damage that the impact would have. So switching to a booster seat, means you lose that 5-point protection, now your child is using a lap-shoulder belt, which is designed for adults. A seat belt designed to restrain a 120 – 250 pound adult is definitely not going to have the same effect protecting a child only weighing 35-40 pounds, it’s not pretty folks.

Another consideration before moving your child to a booster is to ask, are they really ready to use it correctly? Some kids are excited at first and do well buckling up themselves and keeping the lap/shoulder belt fitting snuggly. But when the novelty wears off, do they start getting squirmy, pushing the shoulder belt behind their arms, unbuckling the belt to get that toy/food/drink/thingy they just dropped? It’s not always easy to tell when your child is really ready to take on the responsibility of the switch to booster. For most kids, keeping them in the 5-point harness until they are at least 5 or 5 1/2 is the safest choice.

It’s important to remember the adage that each step up in your child’s car seat is a step down in safety.

If you have a special tip you’d like to share with our readers click here to go to our contact us page, we’d love to hear from you!

You can always check out our Car Seat Safety page at any time, it’s loaded with great resources, check lists, the latest information on crash test safety data, and even a link to all of our car seat news stories that we’ve posted over the year. Call us if you have questions or if you’d like to make an appointment with a car seat technician to check your child’s car seat 255-0481.