Every stage of a child’s life requires rapid change and growth. Especially when transporting a child in a vehicle, the use of car seats, high back booster seats and backless booster seats depend on the height and age of the child and are not only good safety practices but also required by law. Local requirements will unique to each state will determine which type of car seat or high back booster seat your child needs at each age and size.
Another helpful piece of advice is to look up the who, what, when, where, how and why of the use of car seats and booster seats online, but to do this in conjunction with the car seat and booster seat manufacturer’s installation and use manual. Being equipped with the required product knowledge will help you guard the safety of your precious little ones as they grow through every stage of their life. Always keep them safe in a motor vehicle!
A high back booster seat and backless booster seat is used when a child has outgrown a car seat with a harness. The high back booster seat differs from the backless booster seat in that it has side wings and head restraint and offers more structure and protection than the backless booster seat. The backless booster seat is a raised base seat with arm rests.
Focusing on the high back booster seat, it allows for the vehicle’s safety seat belt system to be used appropriately and correctly and clicked into place across the child’s hips and chest. Without it, children are to small for the system and the lap belt is slung high across the waist and the shoulder belt high across the neck, which is both uncomfortable and unsafe.
A high back booster seat allows a child to have a safer and more comfortable riding experience, with a raised base that provides them with a better view, better head and body protection and gives the child’s legs an opportunity to bend normally.
Booster Seats by Law
As an example of the use of a child safety seat or high back booster seat being required by law, the State of Minnesota enacted a “child passenger safety law” that “requires a child who is both under age 8 and shorter than 4 feet 9 inches” to be properly fastened in either a child safety seat, high back booster seat or backless booster seat when riding in a motor vehicle. The use of either a child safety seat, high back booster or backless booster is dependent on the child’s age, height and weight.
The youngest of children ride in a child safety seat, also affectionately termed “car seat,” which is a customized seat with a harness for the youngest of occupants. According to the Minnesota child passenger safety law, children are not allowed to use a seat belt alone until they meet either the height requirement of 4 feet 9 inches tall or the age requirement of 8 years (usually whichever is first). Be sure to pay attention to the instruction manual for the height and weight specifics to know if you are using the appropriate child safety seat or booster for your child!
How to Know If Your Child Is Ready for a High Back Booster Seat
Graduating from a car seat with a harness to a high back booster seat is usually recommended when the child is 4 to 8 years of age, weighs between 40 to 80 pounds and is at least 35 inches tall but under 4 feet 9 inches tall. Also, a child has outgrown their forward-facing car seat with internal harness when they have exceeded the weight or height limitations of that particular car seat product specifications for use.
The high back booster seat is the in-between stage of using a car seat and wearing a seat belt; the child who is ready for a high back booster seat will “not fit properly in a vehicle belt system” and cannot sit properly against the seat and bend their knees at the edge of the seat without slouching.
In contrast to vehicle seat belt systems that are intended for use by 165-pound adults, seat belt positioning high back booster seats are the perfect next-step up from car seats for shorter and smaller riders. They are appropriate to use until a child reaches a height of 4 feet 9 inches, which is when most states consider it safe for them to be wearing seat belts completely alone.
High Back Booster Installation Guide
The first and important thing to remember is to always secure the booster seat at all times in the vehicle. This is true even when the child is not occupying the booster seat. If the booster seat is not buckled securely in place, it can violently moved around in the vehicle and cause injury to drivers or passengers during sharp turns, serious inclines/declines, sudden stops or during an accident. Use the following guided directions in three easy steps to install a high back booster seat correctly and safely in a vehicle:
Step 1: Read Vehicle Manual, Booster Seat Manufacturer’s Instructions and City, State, and/or Federal laws
This is one of the most important steps. This is so important because not only may the rules differ slightly, or even considerably, depending on where you are: the product and vehicle themselves are each uniquely different and require knowledge of the product specifications and instructions on how to properly use, adjust and store the booster seat effectively and safely.
Step 2: Make Room for the Booster Seat in the Back Seat
This step is also critical and involves positioning the booster seat flat on the back seat of the vehicle and in the center of the seat, if possible. It should also be positioned upright and facing the front of the vehicle, which are critical elements of safety and ergonomics. Make sure that the back seat has both lap and shoulder seat belts to secure the booster seat.
If a shoulder belt is not present in the backseat of your vehicle, then consider installing the booster seat in the passenger seat—although this is more dangerous because of the closer proximity to front airbags and the force of a frontal accident. Check with your state laws about whether booster seats are permitted in the front seat at all. However, if your car is old enough that the back seat has no shoulder belt, it is unlikely it has the airbags in the passenger seat that are cause for concern with booster seats and shorter riders.
Again, what is important is placing the booster seat flat in the center of the back seat with both lap and shoulder seat belts present.
Step 3: Fitting Your Child Securely in the Booster Seat
This step is extremely important for the safety, security and comfort of your child riding in a booster seat. This is also where all the knowledge accumulated in Step 1 comes handy. Buckle in your child with the lap and shoulder seat belt making sure to use the seat belt and seat belt buckle for that seat. For maximum safety, use the booster seat’s seat belt guide or positioning to properly position the lap seat belt low along your child’s hips and the shoulder seat belt snug along your child’s chest, avoiding the neck area.
This is crucial for the safety performance feature of both the booster seat and your vehicle’s seat belt system. The booster seat was created to be buckled in with a seat belt, so check and double check if your child is safe, secure and comfortable in their buckled up high back booster seat!
Your child’s youth is a time filled with joyous memories and occasions. It is imperative that these joyful days are also safe, secure and comfortable for the whole family. Not only is it required by law, children’s car seats, high back booster seats and backless booster seats are proven ways of keeping your child safe in a car. The high back booster seat is the in-between children’s booster seat that indicates a child has outgrown a car seat but is still too small both in height and weight to use a seat belt appropriately. Seat belts are life-saving devices, so any parent should heed the “buckle up” warning and mandated requirements. It can, and will, protect you and your children in the event of a crash. With three easy steps to install and use a high back booster seat is a definite must-have and must-use for safety, security and comfort of the small passengers in your vehicle.