To Boost or not to Boost?
Our children grow up way too fast. Can you remember when you put the crib together? Do you remember the ride home and thinking "They're sending me without an instruction manual? The nurse is not coming home with me?" Fast-forward to your independent 5, 6 or 7 year-old child who comes home and demands not to be put in a "baby" seat anymore.
Car crashes are the #1 cause of unintentional death and injury to children. Every day an average of 4 children die and over 450 are injured. Some of those injuries are life-long. Statistically, we have seen a decrease over the years in the 0-4 year-old range. However, we have seen an increase in the 5-10 year-old range.
There is a gap between the protection provided by a child restraint and the protection provided by the adult seat belt; "adult" being the key word. Seat belts are designed for an adult male approximately 5'9" and 165 lb. Children who do not fit in an adult seat belt can be ejected from a vehicle during a crash or suffer severe injuries from what is known as Seat Belt Syndrome. This occurs in a crash when the seat belt crushes the internal organs and can sever the spine. Because of their small stature and underdeveloped pelvic bones, the seat belt will ride up on the abdomen of a child. A good way to think about proper fit is this: Seat belts like bone. During a crash, if the seat belt is sitting on the soft tissue of the abdomen the webbing will compress all the way to the spine, crushing everything in between.
During a recent presentation that I gave at a grade school, I asked the children to walk under a limbo stick without lowering their heads. The stick was set at 4'9" which is the benchmark child height for proper seat belt positioning. The children went in order of their grade with the youngest children going first. Not until the 6th grade did a student have to duck their head to keep from hitting the stick. This unofficial survey showed that most kids should still ride in a booster seat in order to have adequate protection. The important benchmark is height, weight, anatomical development and maturity. All of these play a factor in proper fit.
Booster seats can effectively prevent injury and death and there are all types to choose from. Diono's new RadianRXT, R120 and R100 car seats all convert to booster mode which begins at 50 lb. All of the Radian car seats have an internal steel frame and EPS foam which provide optimal protection. The Monterey is an expandable booster which easily adjusts to fit a child's shoulders up to 20" wide. It also has an 11-position adjustable head rest for a comfortable, custom fit and an aluminum reinforced back and sides. The Monterey accommodates children up to 120 lb and 63" tall and recently received the IIHS Best Fit rating. Diono seats also have LATCH connectors which keep them secured to the vehicle seat when used in booster mode and when not occupied by the child.
We know that children can be persistent when complaining about riding in a booster seat. I would just remind them that keeping them safe when riding in a vehicle is more important than anything else.