Children must use booster seats until their lap and shoulder belts fit correctly. A booster with belt-positioning clips (on the sides of a high back booster or a special strap attached to a backless booster) is useful for helping ensure that the shoulder part of the seat belt lands on their shoulders and crosses their chest correctly.
Booster seats help seat belts fit properly on kids by raising them to the strongest, bony parts of their body. They ensure that the lap belt rests on their hip bones rather than their stomach and the shoulder belt crosses over their collar bone instead of their neck. In a crash, well-positioned booster seats protect children from severe injuries.
Current car safety guidelines recommend that kids use booster seats until they reach the vehicle manufacturer’s height and weight limits for the next-level seat. Keeping kids in boosters longer can reduce the risk of serious injury by ensuring that their seat belt is correctly positioned.
Some boosters (often called all-in-one seats) come with lower anchors that latch onto the vehicle’s seat back, while others have standard belt buckles that hold the child in place. Physicians should be aware of community resources that can provide advice or help with installing and using booster seats. These include child passenger safety specialists and certified car seat technicians.
Toddler booster seats New York, NY work with lap and shoulder belts to restrict head movement during a crash. If your child’s head moves too far, they can get hurt.
Many boosters include seat belt guides to help position the lap portion of the car seat belt low and flat across a child’s upper thighs, below their belly. These help prevent the lap belt from shifting into their soft stomach and causing serious injuries during a crash.
Many convertible and harness-to-booster cars have the highest shoulder strap slots available, allowing kids to stay in their harnesses long before they are too big (in height and weight) for forward-facing harnessed safety seats. Even fairly tall children can stay in their harnesses until they are four. That’s because, thanks to advances in car seat design, most kids can safely ride rear-facing until they reach the 95th percentile for their age group. That’s the point at which most parents should consider moving their child to a booster.
Many booster seats have small handles, armrests, or guides to position the lap portion of a vehicle seat belt low and flat across a child’s upper thighs. These prevent the lap belt from moving up into a child’s belly in a crash, which can cause serious injuries such as abdominal organ damage and whiplash.
Boosters also help keep kids from slouching, allowing the shoulder belt to move over a child’s neck or shoulder and become loose in a crash. When this happens, the shoulder belt can’t hold a child back and could cause severe head or neck injury. Children should sit straight, not lean forward, or play with the shoulder belt to avoid slouching. Some boosters include a center headrest to limit how far a child’s head moves forward in a crash. This feature is especially important for smaller children.
Booster seats are used when kids outgrow their forward-facing harnessed car seat but need to be bigger for the adult belt. A booster can reduce a child’s chances of injury by 45% versus using the seat belt alone.
In a vehicle without a booster, the lap belt lies high on the belly and over the vascular organs, making it difficult for a kid to sit comfortably without slouching (which can shift the lap belt off their stomach). Boosters raise kids so the lap and shoulder belts fit properly around them.
Boosters also make it easier for kids to remain in the right position during a crash, helping prevent them from being ejected or injured by the belt. Healthcare professionals can play an important role by encouraging parents to report any problems with boosters so that these defects can be fixed. Ideally, the booster should be attached to the vehicle using lower anchors (and not the regular seat belt) so that it can support kids’ weight while still providing proper positioning.