Archives for June 2011
It’s hard to imagine that little baby eventually driving your car, but it will happen. And most parents I know who have teenagers love to remind me of how quickly time passes.
A question I get frequently from parents of older children is:
“When Can they sit in the front seat?”
“Can I borrow the car?”
Inspired by a twitter conversation, YD’s wrote this article to help prepare parents become a passenger: Is your child ready to drive and are you ready for the passenger seat?
Young Drivers of Canada has prepared a very thorough check list for choosing the right driver training for your child
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.
(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.
Forward-facing seats are for older children with stronger back and neck muscles. As long as your child fits within the weight and height ranges of his or her rear-facing seat, it is best to use that seat for as long as possible.
5-pt Harness for as long as possible!
|5pt harness until 65lbs!|
Are you starting to see a pattern?? As with wanting to keep kids rear-facing as long as possible, you want to keep kids in a 5-point harness as long as possible.
(For more information on extended rear-facing, please read yesterday’s post).
Higher weigh forward-facing seats are becoming more common. Some have a maximum weight of 65lbs!
A 5-pt harness spreads the force of a collision across the core of the child’s body and holds them firmly in their seat. Unlike a booster which just positions the child properly in the vehicle’s seat belt and expects that the child’s frame is strong enough to withstand the force of impact.
Every province (and country) has their own laws, which is the minimum requirement for turning a child forward facing and moving them into a booster. But it is recommended to keep them in a 5pt harness as long as possible.
Installation tips and tricks:
If your seat is convertible:
- If the seat was used rear-facing then you’ll need to read the instructions for the seat so that you can re-route the LATCH belt through the seat in the proper position.
- The LATCH or the vehicle’s seat belt needs to pass through the slot at the back of the seat (rather than under the legs when rear-facing)
- A forward facing car seat in Ontario is required by law to use the top tether
- The top tether holds the car seat tight to the vehicles seat, restricting forward motion
- The tether belt will come from the back of the seat, near the top, and will run over the back of the vehicle’s seat
- it clips to the tether bolt
- this can be found either on the back package deck, on the back of the seat or on the floor behind the seat, depending on what vehicle you own
- you must read the vehicle’s owners manual to confirm which seats have a tether bolt so you know where to put the forward facing car seat
- if your vehicle doesn’t have a tether bolt, you’ll need to go to a dealership to have one installed before the car seat is installed
Getting the seat in tight enough:
- I like to attach the top tether to the tether bolt before I begin
- it keeps it out of the way
- attach the LATCH clips to the LATCH anchors
- make sure the LATCH belt is flat
- twisting will cause weakness during a collision
- kneel on the seat
- you are heavier than the baby
- this will get the vehicle’s seat compressed and allow the belt to be as tight as possible
- tighten the belt
- no movement is best
- if you try to shake the base and the whole vehicle shakes, then you’re tight enough
- the harness must be at or above the child’s shoulders
- this will hold the child back against the seat, minimizing the forward motion in a collision
- You must be able to get no more than one finger width between the strap and your child’s collar bone
- DO NOT put your child in bulky clothing (ie. heavy or puffy sweaters, snow suits)
- this will not allow the harness to be tightened properly
- don’t kid yourself either – if you think that it’s tight with the snow suit on, take the snow suit off and put the child back in and you’ll see how loose those straps are when the snow suit compresses under the force of the collision
- The chest clip must be at their arm pits
- DO NOT use any 3rd party add-ons that did not come with the seat
- no protectors on the harness
- no snuggle bags
- many manufactures are starting to have these come as part of the seat
- this means that they were crash tested with the seat and are safe to use
Why get your car seat checked at a car seat clinic?
- we know all the tips and tricks to get your car seat in correctly and tight enough
- we’ve installed many different seats in many different cars
- we know when to use a locking clip
- because you can be fined $240 and 2 demit points (in Ontario) if your child is not in a properly installed and properly used car seat
- but even more important, because you can keep your child as safe as possible should be be in a collision
More info about forward-facing seats
- Transport Canada — Stage 2: Forward-facing Seats
- MTO – Choose the right seat for your child: Toddlers
- Safe Kids Canada – Installation Videos