Booster seat safety 101

Keep your little one safe and sound in the car by following these expert booster seat safety tips.

Booster seat safety 101
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Having a newborn quickly requires learning how to use an appropriate car seat. Adjustments to the car seat are made as the baby grows into an infant and then a toddler. But what happens when your child outgrows his or her car seat? Do you know when and how you should use a booster seat?

New research from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has found that one in three children under the age of 16 “were incorrectly restrained in the car.” Of that group of children, the study found that “safety errors are highest in children aged 4 to 7 years” and that booster seats, specifically, are often the apparatus that is most used inaccurately.

Safety first
Health Canada reports that one of the leading causes of death for children and youth is motor vehicle injuries. Using a booster seat when your child outgrows his or her car seat is an essential part of keeping kids safe when they are passengers in a car.

Some provinces and territories legislate the use of a booster seat until the child reaches a certain height and weight, though others, such as Alberta, Saskatchewan and the North Western Territories do not.

This, “despite the fact that children needing an interim booster seat to protect them in a motor vehicle accident is evidence based,” says Kristen Gane, the program manager of injury prevention programs at Parachute Canada, a charitable organization dedicated to injury prevention.

Children are “three times more likely to be seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident when not in a booster seat,” says Gane. In fact, “30 per cent of Canadian children under four foot, nine inches are not using booster seats, which leaves an estimated 1.8 million Canadian kids unprotected,” she adds.

Proper booster seat use
To ensure that you properly transition your child from a car seat to a booster seat, there are a few things to keep in mind.

For one, “parents expect that installing a booster seat will be more complicated than it is, but a booster seat is aptly named. It raises the height of a child in the seat so that the lap and shoulder belts can properly hold the child in the correct place,” says Gane.

Using a booster seat is very simple, she explains, and this simplicity “sometimes leads to the misunderstanding that it is not necessary.”

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