I think it’s time to talk about the big Elephant in the room!!!… Car Seats for older children- High Back boosters! (Aka group 2/3 car seats)
Every child should be on the move to their High Back Booster at approx 15kgs upwards (approx 3.5years) and it will protect them up to 36kgs/135cm + tall! Unless of course your current seat has a high weight range, a few models now brilliantly cover up to 25kgs! If not, moving them onto their next seat group can be the safest choice for your child. The high back booster uses the car seat belt. Different brands and models have different features in terms of side impact protection etc, so bare this in mind when choosing the right seat.
Having previously worked in the nursery industry my eyes were opened very wide to the world that was high back boosters and the incredibly varied attitudes towards them. I genuinely think that this is because of lack of knowledge and information available on them unless you specifically look or ask! What you DO need to know is: if your little one is around 3.5years you need to start keeping an eye on their weight. Once they reach 15kg its time for the move.
First things first – one extreme is the fab parents that genuinely think jamming little 6 year old “Johnny” into his group one car seat is “for his own good and protection” because it has a 5 point harness and surely that’s more secure!? Wrong! Take Johnny out immediately!
If you are in a collision his body weight will put too much strain on that harness and they could break. Always check the upper weight limit on your Group 1 car seat!!! Chances are his head will be massively exceeding the height of the seat too and this means he has absolutely no head protection. I know you mean well but your not doing him any favors.
Next problem is the old reliable cushion booster.
Meh, not so reliable!
Basically all this does is raise a Childs height fractionally. Given the extreme varied heights and weight of each child, and the time span it should cover, it is just a very inadequate piece of equipment in my eyes.
Manufacturers have stopped making them in a bid to change attitudes and lead them towards a more safer option. It’s not illegal to use them (although I think it should be)… you will however see their decrease in availability due lack of production.
I used to hear a lot of “sure my eldest has been in one of them for years and he’s grand” – Yes Mary, thankfully he has, and thankfully you were never in a collision because if you were…!
Get where I’m going here?
Sure we were all brought home from the hospital in a drawer at one point weren’t we?
Cushion boosters rely solely on the seat belt to (loosely) hold your child in place, and offers no side or back protection.
It also doesn’t have anywhere for your child’s head to rest. Please reconsider using one of these boosters if you are using them.
Image via google
A massive problem I came upon was lack of proper/any seat use in some families due to the size of the actual family!!!
A lot of families that have three children and a standard 5 seater car will massively struggle to install 3 car seats of any kind into their car and truth be told it is physically impossible to SAFELY do this. Each standard infant or child seat needs to be installed on a single seat unit in a car.
No, unfortunately that doesn’t mean you can ram a super slim booster into that middle space of the car that most people think is a proper seating area. (The “hump” I like to refer to it as!)
You can certainly try and with some clever google searches you may even find some quirky seat mixtures that SEEM to fit perfectly across the back row!.. and yes, they probably will “fit”. HOWEVER, I have never seen this successfully done without running the risk of buckle crunch.
[Buckle crunch is a term used sometimes when car seats are installed within too close a proximity to each other. It’s not massively obvious and you might not notice unless you look for it:
It is when the seatbelt casing comes into contact with the next car seat (that is squashed in beside it) and you run the risk of smashing it in extreme circumstances, or causing it large damage from daily wear and tear. Buckle crunch is mainly caused by incorrectly installed single car seats, it’s worth having a look into it and briefing yourself on it. ]
Sometimes people make the mistake of putting the eldest in the middle alongside siblings in full car seats. With car seats you always need to think what your using them for. It’s for protection in the worst case scenario. If worst case scenario happens while your eldest is sitting between two large plastic car seats you don’t want to think of the rest. (Sorry to be so grim.)
The safest solution is to change your car to MPV. There are a good few cars on the market that remain 5 seaters but they have 3 physical seat units across the back row so you can safely install three seats. This would be one of the main thought processes behind car brands designing these.
I know you probably don’t want to know or have to consider changing a car to fit car seats, but here we are!… Learning lots!
My point hidden in this whole topic is… don’t demote your child’s safety because it doesn’t suit your car. Your car needs to function for your family and if your child is under 36kg I’m afraid this means they should be on a high back booster.
When and if you do buy a high back, you need to ensure that your little one is actually fitting into it properly. More often than not I look into a car complete with 3 highback boosters and they are all set at the exact same height!
Ok if you have triplets but otherwise , no!
All high back boosters are height adjustable to grow with your child’s height. It will extend to accommodate a child of approx 135cm+ (uk law states 135cm, Irish law states 150cm) or 36kg, whichever milestone is reached first. That’s when they graduate to shotgun ! Whoop! (Joke!)
PLEASE ensure the seatbelt is threaded through the belt loop and that it is sitting approx 1cm above your child’s shoulder for maximum safety. NEVER below the shoulder, the belt should not contact the arm. You should see this lie perfectly from their shoulder , across their belly and it should return across their lap, always in full contact with the body, ensuring there are no twists/kinks in the belt.
If the seatbelt does have twists it can cause unnecessary injury if you had a RTA.
Always check that the seatbelt is flowing in and out of the loop smoothly and the seatbelt is springing back when opened.
YouTube has a tutorial for nearly every make of car seat. It’s an invaluable resource.
Always make a point to regularly re adjust the seat as your child grows.
If they buckle themselves in, always show them that the belt can’t be twisted.
Don’t allow room for argument about seats with older children. It’s a non negotiable, the more normal it becomes in all families the less of an issue it will be.
Don’t rebel against progress. Nobody is trying to rip you off. (I used to get this ALOT)
Car seat companies are trying to reach higher standards and keep our children safe.
Invest wisely in products that have safety properties and work them out at a cost per use. I understand they aren’t cheap. It’s all about having proper knowledge in advance and planning forward for items you will need to invest in along the way. On my baby journey the highback booster was always the last big equipment investment I made and I was happy in doing so when I realised why I was doing it and the fact that they should be getting at least 6 years plus out of it.
Please always educate yourself on the specific car seat you purchase for your little one. As you can guess technology is thankfully progressing and there are some brilliant new models out there that cover higher weight ranges etc, which will mean your move won’t be as early. Perhaps if your reading this in the early stages they could be an option to consider investing in.
Hope this was of some benefit, please feel free to ask me any questions! Let me know if your interested. Tag any friends that this may be of interest to!
Happy & Safe Spinning