Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I had a great conversation on booster seats and buckling up tonight with a friend.  It reminded me that I wanted to post about it.  So, here we go....

Wow, I must have a pretty boring life if talking about booster seats is fun.  The key here is that it's important to me that my kids are safe.  What that looks like is different for every family.

I've read reports that say the recommended age to keep kids in boosters until they are 8, 80 pounds or 4 foot 9.  Wow, that means my kids should be in them still because 2 are under 8 and none are 80 pounds or 4 foot 9.  The recommendation was tried to put into law in place of age 6 or 60 pounds.  It never passed and I am glad about that.  Why does the state need to tell us every detail of what to do to keep my kids safe?  Do they not think I have common sense and can't think on my own?  I like recommendations to use as guidelines, not laws that don't take into account differences in situations.

When my oldest turned 6, our "western" pediatrician said he was old enough to go without a booster.  This is even though he was only 4 feet tall and 50 pounds.  I didn't feel comfortable with this recommendation.  I decided to wait it out until he was 60 pounds and tall enough to not be choked by the seat belt.  I have seen kids smaller than my 4 year-old that are "old enough" without boosters.  This makes me nervous, but they're not my kids.  I also see loose kids in cars that aren't buckled up, even in the front seat.  This seems negligent to me.

I have friends who have adjustable seat belts, so it was easier to move their kids out of boosters.  By adjusting the belt down in the car, it was properly fit to each child.  My cars aren't that coordinated, so my kids had to wait.  This was hard for them because many of their friends were out of boosters.

Now we're having the pleadings to ride in the front seat.  I think the law is 6 years old, but they tried to get it passed to 12.  Wiki says 10 and 70 pounds.  Some other site said 12.  If I wanted, I could call the CHP to get the real answer.  But, since in my mind the answer is 12, there is no need.  I like having my kids in the back for more than safety reasons.  I like my own space.  More than space though, I like them being safer.  This is a decision that each family needs to make on their own.  I will say that the peer pressure is annoying.  My kids nag at me because their friends are riding shotgun.  I pass no judgement on other families' choices, but will stick by what my husband and I agree on.

I probably moved my kids to boosters from 5-point harness car-seats earlier than most.  Does this make me a bad mom?  I don't think so.  Sure, with my first I kept him in longer.  As I started piling the kids in my car and wanting to hand down the cars-eats, I shifted them younger.  I made sure they didn't play with the buckles and kept it across them.  If they weren't able to do this, a 5-point harness made more sense.

Prior to that decision, there is the rule to keep kids rear facing until they are 1.  We kept to that rule pretty well.  We also followed the weight/height restrictions for their car seats.  This meant having to move them from the infant carrier to a rear facing 5-point harness seat.  I know many people who kept their kids in the infant carrier past the recommendations.  This in turn lessens the effectiveness of the seat which makes it less safe in my book.

As you can see, I don't always follow the rules.  Because I have 4 kids, I reuse my items longer than they should probably be.  Yes, technology on these items has improved.  I tried to buy effective seats for the value that were "rated" excellent.  This meant spending a bit to make this happen.  We also bought 2 sets of seats so both of our cars were able to accommodate all of our kids without the "oops, the booster is in the other car" situation.

We've done some traveling to Mexico.  My kids see us bending the car-seat rules there.  I guess we rationalize this because they are still safer than most kids who live where we go.  My kids aren't riding on top of vehicles or in the open backs of pick-up trucks.  They beg for it though.....

I will end this by stating that my recollection is riding in the back of our station wagon with no seat or seat belt (not always, but sometimes).  I also recall riding shotgun in my dad's VW Bug from a very early age and roaming in the motorhome while we were cruising down the highway on vacations.  I survived, but are drivers, roads and conditions different now?

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