(edited June 2016)
Let’s start by saying — DO NOT rush your child into a booster.
Booster = Responsibility
In Ontario the minimum requirement is 40lbs AND 40 inches tall. My eldest daughter was 3 1/2 year old when she hit those limits. There was no way she was ready to be in a booster. A child is required to keep the belt in the proper position and not play with it. So if your child is not mature enough to use a seat belt like an adult, do not move them in to a booster (please read the article about “Forward-facing seats”)
Purpose of a Booster
A child, in the province of Ontario,by law, must ride in a booster until they are a minimum of 8 years old or 80lbs or 4’9″ tall.
A booster is used to raise the child up so that the vehicle’s seat belt can be used. A properly used seat belt will have the lap belt across the hips and the shoulder belt across the chest and collarbone.
Types of Boosters
There are 2 types of boosters: booster cushion and high-back booster.
- this has a supportive back and head protection
- the seat belt has a slot to be thread through to help maintain the proper position
- a simple booster that raises the child to the proper height to put the seat belt in the proper position
- a vehicle head rest MUST be adjusted so that it is raised to a height where the child’s ears are in the middle of the headrest.
Safe Kids Canada is stressing the need for a Canada-wide booster seat law. They did a poll and the results were astounding.
“Most parents of children under 10 years feel that a booster seat is necessary until a child is safely able to use a seat belt correctly. In fact, four out of five households (78 per cent) support the idea of a booster seat law. Mothers are more likely to support this type of law (81 per cent) than fathers (75 per cent).
Yet data indicates that only 30 per cent of Canadian children between four and eight years of age are using booster seats despite existing booster seat laws in the majority of Canadian provinces.2 The remaining children in this age range (1.8 million) are in jeopardy of suffering severe internal injuries during a crash, as a result of using a seat belt too early in their development. Legislation, education and enforcement in combination can increase the correct use of child restraints. Research has shown that a combination of strategies can reduce child passenger injuries.
Safe Kids Canada believes there should be a harmonized approach to booster seat legislation for all Canadian children. Safe Kids Canada is advocating for booster seat legislation that would apply to all children under four feet nine inches (145 cm) in height regardless of where they reside in Canada.”
Ready for a seat belt?
But just because they have reached that height limit, they still may not be ready for a seat belt.
Do this 5-Step Test:
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
Even if your child has reached the minimum height, weight or age requirement to not use a booster, if you answered “no” to any of the above questions, then your child is not ready to sit in a seat belt.
A child has to sit properly on the seat with the vehicle’s seat belt in order to be safe. If the child is going to slouch then the seat belt will not be able to work properly. There are booster seats in the market that allow for higher height and weight limits.
Please note: I am a certified Child Restraint Technician in Ontario, Canada. Please check your local laws about car seats and always read your vehicle owner’s manual and car seat manual before installing your child seats.
This data will be updated as required.