When it comes to taking care of your kids, safety comes first. This means that you need to pick a booster seat that’s the right type for your child, keeping in mind their height and weight, as well as the laws regarding booster seat use in the state that you live in. That’s kind of a lot to keep track of, so luckily, Paperclip is here to help.
The goal is to ensure that your child is well-protected in case of an accident, and as you probably know, booster seat regulations have changed a lot over the years, especially since you were a child. So, how can you select the best (and safest) booster seat for your child? We have some tips to share as you begin your booster seat selection journey.
What Is a Booster Seat?
A booster seat is a transitional seat that’s used in a vehicle, like a car, truck (those with a second bench seat), or SUV. It keeps a child properly restrained in the car in case of an accident. Unlike car seats, booster seats usually (but not always) have fewer features. Some are designed to boost the child up in the seat (hence the name) so that the seat belt works properly, while others are a little more involved. It all depends on the size and age of your child.
How do they differ from car seats? A traditional car seat is designed to be rear-facing, and some have an additional feature that makes them easy to remove from the car while the child is still in it. This gives the parents a few more options, such as keeping a sleeping child in the seat after they get home, only unbuckling them once they get to their bedroom. In addition, car seats tend to have more padding in different places, as they are designed to keep infants safe.
After a certain age, height, and weight, it’s time for a child to move to a booster seat.
Why Do You Need to Use a Booster Seat?
As we’ve previously stated, booster seats are designed with safety in mind. Some kids are too short to be properly restrained by the seat belt, meaning that an accident can have deadly consequences. You need to have your child seated properly on a booster seat until they are old enough and tall enough to sit on the seat of your car by themselves.
Types of Booster Seats
Before you head to the store to buy a booster seat, it’s important to understand what kind you need. There are three different options, each of which is designed for a child of a certain height and weight. These are harness booster seats, high-back booster seats, and no-back booster seats. Which one is your child ready for? Read on to learn more.
Harness Booster Seats
A harness booster seat looks a little like a traditional car seat. The only difference is the fact that it’s forward-facing, not rear-facing. This means that when your child is seated in it, they are facing the front of the car, not the back seat. These booster seats are designed to be transitional, so they’ll work for a few years as your child grows. They include a built-in harness that keeps your child in place, buckling over the chest and the waist, to keep them correctly restrained.
High-Back Booster Seats
A high-back booster seat, on the other hand, looks a little like a harness seat. It had a similar shape and size, with a higher back and full bottom that protects your child from all sides. It can be used with vehicles that have a headrest, as well as those without one, and it also faces forward, just like the harness seat.
The big difference is that a high-back booster seat doesn’t have any harnesses or restraints built-in. Instead, your child is buckled into place by using the car’s own seat belts.
No-Back Booster Seats
Then there’s the no-back booster seat. This type is very different from the others. Have you seen the booster seats that restaurants have to give children who can’t reach the table? It resembles those a little bit. The main difference is that it’s padded and much more comfortable to sit on. A no-back booster seat consists solely of the bottom pad, and it boosts your child up to the right height, so they can use the seat belt that’s built into your car.
Transitional Booster Seats Grow with Your Child
In addition to the standard three styles as described above, there are transitional booster seats. These booster seats are designed to grow with your child. You may find some that start out at traditional car seats, but they can then be placed so that they are forward-facing and function as harness seats.
Others might have a high-back that can be removed when your child graduates to a simple no-back booster seat. These types of booster seats tend to cost a bit more, but you’ll be able to use them for a longer period of time.
Height and Weight Requirements
The size of your child, not so much their age, tends to dictate which type of booster seat that they need to use. With that said, older children often fit into no-back booster seats, while younger ones end up in either harness or high-back ones.
A harness booster seat is designed for kids who weigh between 20 and 40 pounds. Once they reach the 40-pound weight limit, they can be moved into a high-back booster seat. Kids that are old enough and tall enough to handle a no-back car seat (generally between the ages of 5 and 8) can be safely buckled into one.
Don’t Forget to Follow State Laws
With that said, you also need to keep in mind the laws in your particular state. Some require kids under 40 pounds to be in a high-back seat, regardless of their height, while others may have different requirements. If you have any questions about this, check with your pediatrician or local car seat safety advocacy group, who will have the information that you need.
Does Your Child Have Special Needs?
Also, kids who have special needs may need to use a certain type of car seat for longer than necessary. For example, a toddler or young child who has issues supporting their head and neck may benefit from a harness booster seat, regardless of their height and weight. You will need to find the right type of seat for them and may even end up getting a special medical one in order to provide them with the comfort and safety that they require.
In addition, some booster seats come with some pretty cool bonus features. You may find some with cup holders, which come in handy when your child wants to bring their favorite sippy cup or bottle with them (Cup holders can also hold toys, for the record.)
Plus, there are some that come covered in your child’s favorite characters, like Batman, Spider-Man, Barbie, or My Little Pony. By picking a themed booster seat that reflects your child’s interests, you are practically ensuring that they won’t mind being buckled into it. They also will feel proud of the fact that they got to play a role in helping you pick it out.
A booster seat may save your child’s life in the case of an accident. Plus, it helps keep your child safely restrained in the car, so they aren’t moving around the backseat and distracting you as you drive. For these reasons alone, you need to buy the right booster seat for your (and your child’s) needs.
You’ll need to shop around a bit to find a style and size that fits your child, but in the end, the time and money spent are worth it. Plus, with these helpful tips from Paperclip, you have all the information that you need to purchase a booster seat that will be right for your family’s needs. There’s nothing that can give a parent greater peace of mind than ensuring that your child is safe on the road, no matter what.