Does my older child need a booster seat?

Does my older child need a booster seat?

The regulations in New Zealand specify that children 0-5 years of age must be in an approved car seat. An approved car seat is one that is suitable for their age and weight. All car seats, including boosters, have various weight limits, some have shorter backs than others, but is no reason to place your young child in a seat belt too soon.

It is said that a booster seat can prevent and reduce injuries in older children (over the age of 5) to the age of 9 years by 52%.

The reason for this may be because a booster seat helps to correctly place a child into the adult seat belt. Many presume the sole purpose of a booster seat is to boost the child enough so they can see out the window. This should be seen as a bonus if the child can see out of the window when in a booster seat. Of course a child not in a booster seat will have greater difficulty seeing out of the car window (Colquhoun, 2010).

In the United Kingdom children travel in a booster seat until 12 years of age, or 135cm tall, which ever comes first,with the recommendation to continue if the child still fits with the seat shell and specified weight limits. This has been law since 2006 (Booster Seat, 2010).

A full backed booster seat (that is one with a bottom, back and sides) will offer your child not only a boost, but also head protection from a side impact.

Previous research also backs up Colquhoun's statement above. Elizabeth Segedin (2006) of Starship Children's hospital in New Zealand, states that:

All 4 and 5 year olds required a car seat or booster seat

90% of  6,7, and 8 year olds required booster seats

50% of  9 and 10 year olds

10% of 11 and 12 year olds still required booster seats

Which also backs up the move for booster seat use as mentioned above in the UK. Children simply cannot fit into adult seat belts, and back seats of most cars, even modern ones, are not designed for small pre-teen bodies. Sam Tormey (2008) confirms this very statement.

"The rear seat of the average family car is too deep for almost half of adult women to sit upright and comfortably bend their knees over the edge of the seat, and the seatbelt in the rear seat is unsafe for any person less than 145cm tall. Children do not reach this height until around 11 years old, on average." Sydney's Child August 2008 (pg 32).

If your child debates the want to sit in and use a booster seat, you need to let them know that a booster seat is designed for their body, a back seat and adult seat belt is not. By using one your child is less likely to suffer from major injuries in an accident.

Safekids.org.nz suggest children use a booster until they reach 148cm in height. The Monterey booster can restrain a child to 54kgs and 160cm tall.

RRP $239

For more information on booster seats click here

Colquhoun, J. 2010. Car seat cheaper than a coffin. Retrieved on 24 November 2010 from, http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/manukau-courier/4083567/Carseat-cheaper-than-a-coffin

Booster seat (n.d) retrieved on 24 November 2010 from, http://www.booster-seat.co.uk/