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When Is My Child Ready for an Adult Seat Belt?

child-in-booster-seat

Today’s guest post is by Rakib Billah of Baby Gear Guide a resource that provides reviews of baby gear, pack and play and other baby products.

A majority of children are usually eager to abandon their booster seats and to embrace seat belts like the big children they deem themselves to be. Seat belts are typically designed for adults and can result in serious injury or even death if they fail to properly fit on a passenger. Best pack and play on the other hand safety option for your baby. There is usually some anxiety as to whether a child is secured in the safest way when riding in a vehicle. The question of when is a child ready for an adult seat belt is one that is a derivative of the law in a state, the actual size of a child, the kind of vehicle they are to ride in and even the age of the child.

Booster seats

Booster seats are normally designed for children that have since outgrown car seats. It is the transition between a car seat and a seat belt. It functions by raising a child up in such a manner that both the shoulder parts of the seat belt and the lap pass in the right places across the body of the child. So when exactly is a child ready to make the large step of using a seat belt?

Steps to determine

There are several steps of which both parents and guardians can follow in determining when or whether a child is ready to graduate from a booster seat to a seat belt. The main ones include the following:

  1. Can the child fully sit against the car seat?
  2. Does the knees of the child comfortably bend at the seat’s edge without the child slouching?
  3. Does the seat belt cross the child’s shoulder between the arm and neck? It shouldn’t cut into either the abdomen or neck of a child
  4. Is the lap belt fitting snugly across the top of the thighs of the child? It should not be up on the tummy of the child.
  5. Can the child remain seated in the position generally described above throughout the trip?

baby in safety belt

If the answer to the questions above is yes then your child is definitely ready for an adult seat belt and is safe to use one. However, if the answer is no then your child should remain in the booster seat for a while longer as it way safer.

In addition to passing the comprehensive five step test outlined above, most children are not ready to make the switch from their booster seats to adult seat belts until they are at least four feet nine inches tall and are between the age of 8 years and 10 years. These are figures that have been accurately determined after extensive and in-depth research and should be strictly adhered to.

Dangers

There are several dangers or risks that children who proceed to use seat belts are exposed to if they are not quite ready to use them. Check out the picture guide to car seat safety for children not yet ready for a seat belt. You can also check out out ultimate guide on the dos and donts of convertible car seats.

The dangers include the following:

  1. If the lap belt rests on a child’s tummy instead of on top of their thighs, the child could suffer from spleen, liver or even stomach damage. A situation that is unpleasant to any parent or guardian.
  1. If the shoulder belt rests upon the neck of a child instead of his or her chest, the child may attempt moving it under their arm due to discomfort. This would result in the damage of internal organs or cracking of the child’s ribs. Alternatively, the child may attempt moving it behind his or her back. In such a position the seat belt will fail to offer any form of protection whatsoever against spinal, neck as well as head injuries.

The potential dangers above clearly indicate that an adult seat belt that fails to properly fit a child can actually cause injury to them rather than prevent it as per their design. This is caution to all parents and guardians against rushing to place their children on adult seat belts.

Booster Seat Safety By Age

Conclusion

All in all, the number that has the most influence as to whether a child is ready for an adult seat belt or not is the child’s age. However, when it comes to car seats versus adult seat belts, there are 3 factors considered and they vary in importance. The first one is the child’s height, second factor is their weight and lastly their age. When is my child ready for an adult seat belt? Now you know.

Sheryl Brown
 

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