There are many factors to consider when determining the appropriate time to change car seats. All car seats have weight and height limits. It is imperative to follow these guidelines as they are tested with crash dummies to determine the safety of the seat.

  • It is interesting to note that children in Sweden stay rear facing up to 4 and 5 years old. This has been the “norm” for many, many years. From Sweden’s latest statistics released in 2010, there were a total number of 278 deaths from car crashes. The only child who died was 18 years old. So it begs the question, if Swedish children are not dying in car crashes and not suffering severe long term injuries, why are we not traveling the same way with our children?
  • Children who are small and young fare better in a 5-point harness. The harness holds the child in a proper position to withstand crash forces. These forces need to load on the strongest parts of the body – the collar bones and pelvic bones. Even though the pelvic bones might not be developed, car seats with a 5-point harness react differently than a child that just sits in a belt positioning booster seat.

When it comes to transitioning children into booster seats, why are we making a big deal about the child being able to sit correctly and maintain the proper position so the adult seat belt fits correctly?  First let’s talk about physical development. Even if you have a 3 year old who meets the height and weight requirements to sit in a belt positioning booster, it’s important to remember that a child’s pelvic bones might not be developed enough to hold the lap belt in place, even when they sit in a booster seat. At 3 years old the pelvic bones are still not fused together. It can take until age 5 or 6 for this to happen.

If you add in the lack of maturity to sit still, upright and with the seat belts in the proper place, this only adds to the risk of the booster seat not doing its job: protecting the child. In a crash, a lap belt that sits too high on the stomach will squeeze a child’s internal organs until the belt gets all the way to the spinal cord. This could cause massive devastation to the child’s body.

A child’s growth pattern has many different stages.  It’s important to match up their growing body with what will offer the utmost protection.


Additional resources:

While this site offers EU seats, it still has really good information:

Photo Credit – TheCarSeatLady



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