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BRITAX: Booster Seat Best Practices for Back to School

It seems like only yesterday your little bundle of joy was snuggled into their infant car seat, coming home for the first time. Now they’re going on new adventures, learning new things, and growing up way too fast. But big kids need protection too, which is why it’s so important to brush up on booster basics before the new school year begins.

Why use a Booster Seat?

Vehicle seat belts are designed to fit an average-sized adult, so they don’t fit correctly on a child’s smaller body. The purpose of a belt-positioning booster seat is to lift or position your child so that the vehicle seat belt fits across the strongest parts of your child’s body, providing the greatest amount of protection. For children between the ages of 4-8, the use of a booster seat can reduce injury rates by 58% over the use of a seat belt alone.

Is Your Child Ready for a Booster?

Belt-positioning boosters are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing harnessed seat, but it is best for children to continue to use a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether in the back seat for as long as possible. If your child outgrows his or her forward-facing seat but is not yet ready to stay seated properly in a belt-positioning booster using the lap and shoulder belt, a Harness-2-Booster Seat is your safest bet.

How can you tell that your child is ready to move on from their forward-facing car seat into a Harness-2-Booster? Here are a few things to look for:

Your child reached the top weight or height allowed for their convertible car seat with a harness. (These limits are listed on the seat and also included in the user guide.)

Your child’s shoulders are above the top harness slots in their forward-facing seat.

Your child’s ears have reached the top of their forward-facing seat.

If your kid is a wiggle worm or sleeps often in the vehicle, then the booster may not be an appropriate selection just yet.

Harness-2-Booster Seats have an internal harness system that is used to restrain the child in the event of an accident. The five-point harness provides a much safer ride for children who are not yet big enough to use the vehicle’s seat-belt with a full booster. In addition, the harness in a combination Harness-2-Booster has a higher weight limit in harnessed mode than a traditional forward-facing seat such as a convertible.

The advantage of a Britax Harness-2-Booster is that it offers two seating modes: Harness mode for holding smaller children from 11.3 to 29.4 kgs (depending on the model); and the traditional booster mode once your big kid is ready to make the transition.

  

How Long Should Your Child Stay in a Booster Seat?

You can check your province laws for specific guidance on car seat and booster use. However, Britax recommends that you follow the laws of your province as the minimum requirements for restraining your child while traveling. Additionally, we recommend that you continue to use the child seat system – convertible car seat, youth seat, or booster seat – to the upper limits of its recommended use, or until your child can fit properly in the adult seat belt.

Keep your child in a 5-point harness for as long as possible. Continue to use a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness and the top tether until your child reaches the top height or weight limit of the car seat.

Keep your child in a booster until they reach 57 inches, and are big enough to fit in a seat belt with the lap belt across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest and shoulder.

Follow these booster basics and you’ll be confident your big kid is safe on the daily ride to school and back.

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