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Knowing more about children and cars | Booster seat learnings

booster seat with beanie

Confession about children and cars

Beanie’s been in a booster seat since he was about two and a half years old. This is mainly because he’s always been tall for his age, but also because I assumed that this was the done thing… I didn’t know how much there was to know about about children and cars.

After he grew out of his rear-facing car seat (he hit max weight of 18kgs), we headed to our nearest baby shop. We asked about a suitable replacement for his weight, and we were directed to a booster seat. I guess I just figured that the baby shop employees would know what they were talking about. It’s is a seriously risky assumption. To place the safety of my child into a complete stranger’s hands without doing any in-depth research myself into children and cars is something I really regret… I just thank God that I haven’t had to pay for this decision in any traumatic or life-altering way.

When I first found out about the #CarseatFullstop campaign

I knew it was something I could get behind because I’ve always been very adamant that the entire family buckles up, and that Beanie is strapped into his car seat at all times, even when we’re only heading up the road to my parents’ house. I felt quite proud of myself and judged those parents who don’t strap their children into car seats. It was easy to ignore my own mistakes because I didn’t think I was  doing anything wrong.

I think most people believe that it’s better to buckle your child up, whether in a car seat or not. We don’t realise that a car’s safety belts are designed for an adult male that’s at least 1,5m tall, so it won’t offer adequate restraint or protection for children. In fact, according to Volvo’s free Children and Cars manual, when it comes to children aged between  0 – 15, using an adult safety belt offers just 68% better protection than using no restraint at all, while children strapped into rear-facing child seats have up to 90% better protection and those in booster seats have 77% better protection. Children should be strapped into rear-facing carseats for as long as possible.

When I first found out that children should be in rear-facing carseats up until the age of 4, I considered buying a new carseat for Beanie. In the end, after much research, we’ve decided to keep Beanie in a full back booster seat, but we’ve opted to make several adjustments, based on info gleaned from Volvo’s Children and Cars manual (seriously, if you haven’t done so already – do it now. I put off reading it for weeks, probably because of fear, but I’m so glad I finally read it).

Knowing more about children and cars, the biggest changes we made were

  • Ensuring that the diagonal belt goes down across the shoulder,  between the neck and the edge of shoulder. It always bothered me that the seatbelt seemed to be too close to Beanie’s neck. According to Volvo’s Children and Cars manual, it is less worrisome if the belt is partly on your child’s neck than if the belt is positioned closer to the edge of the shoulder… As your child might slide out of the belt in the event of a crash. (*MLM comment – it is far safer to fit your child in the seat in your car before buying it and ensuring the seat you choose positions the belt away from both nexk and shoulder’s edge.)
  • Making sure that the diagonal belt is over Beanie’s shoulder. Often, Beanie slips the diagonal belt underneath his arm (I’m assuming it feels more comfortable and less restrained that way). It’s vital that you ensure that the diagonal belt remains over your child’s shoulder at all times.
  • The lap belt should sit securely over Beanie’s hips or thighs – not over his tummy. I’m not 100% happy with how the lap belt sits on our current seat, so I’m shopping around for another booster seat with a better fit. This time, I’ll make sure that I fit the booster seat in my car and make sure that I’m 100% happy with the fit before parting with my hard-earned cash. Retailers should allow parents to fit a seat in their car before purchasing the seat.

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  • Once Beanie is in, we remove the slack. I’ve always done this, but I often have to readjust this during the journey, especially on long drives.
  • Children should remain in booster seats until they are 1,5m tall and at least 10 years old. However, even children between the ages of 12 – 14 could benefit from them. Beanie will remain in his carseat for at least the next 7 years. He’ll arrive alive, even if he might not be the coolest kid at the school drop-off.

About the Author

CSFS team - Chereen sqChereen is mommy to cutie Noah and blogs about beauty and parenting on For the Beauty of It. She owns a successful boutique PR agency called This Pretty Thing.

Chereen on For the Beauty of It

For the Beauty of It started predominantly as a beauty blog back in October 2011. I was working as the beauty editor at O, The Oprah Magazine. After I gave birth to my first child, Noah (otherwise known as ‘Bean’ on the blog) in January 2013, I found myself drawn more and more to topics related to motherhood. Over time, For The Beauty Of It has evolved into a space where I share all my latest beauty finds, style advice and inspiration for real women, my experiences of motherhood and baby- and toddler-related products that really work for us, and a whole lot more.

Chereen on #CarseatFullstop

The minute my son was born I was overcome with a fierce and overwhelming need to protect him, always. That’s why a car seat is a non-negotiable for us. My parents live about 200 metres up the road from us, yet I’ve never dared not strap Noah in – even if it’s “just down the road”.

You have the power to save a little life. One share, seen by one person, who straps in one child, saves a life. #CarseatFullstop

One share, seen by one person, who straps in one child, saves a life.
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