6-Year-Old's Death Can Be Booster Seat Lesson for Moms


booster seatIn Holton Township, Michigan, Isaiah Hill, a 6-year-old -- the same age as my own son -- died when he was ejected from the car after a crash. He was not restrained at all. No booster or seat belt. His mother, 24-year-old Sheena Joslin, was driving in inclement weather when her car crossed the middle line and struck an oncoming vehicle. Isaiah's 1-month-old brother Peyton was also ejected, but was in his car seat. The seriousness of Peyton's injuries are unknown.

We may never know why this mom didn't have 6-year-old Isaiah in a booster and secured by a seat belt. But we do know Isaiah's life is over. He will never graduate kindergarten. He will never grow up. He will never get married. He will never have children. He will never smile one more time, ever. He is DEAD.

Booster and car seat safety is so important. Children's lives depend on moms and dads and caretakers taking the time to educate themselves about how to secure kids in the car so in the event of an accident, they are given the best chance to survive it. And yet, people went crazy and got upset with the announcement of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics updated booster and car seat recommendations that toddlers stay rear-facing as long as their convertible (not infant) car seat allows, until 2 as a bare minimum. And that children need to stay in a belt-positioning booster until they are at least 4'9" tall, AND 8 years old -- which is law in many states already, including Michigan where Isaiah lived and died.

That's the reason these new recommendations are finally out there, not to punish moms or make your life difficult. It's not a conspiracy by car seat companies in an attempt to make you spend more money, but it's so your child doesn't end up bleeding out on the pavement or the hospital bed.

So to clear up some confusion, these are the rules for boosters:

Your child has to be 8 years old. No matter how tall or heavy they are. This is due to the development of their hip bones and spine. Their bones have to be able to take the impact from a seatbelt, which distributes it less evenly than a 5-point harness, and in different locations.

Your child has to be 4'9" AND 8 years old. If they hit 4'9" at 6 or 7, they still need to be in a booster until they get to be 8. This is to help them at least be in the bare minimum range of the lowest average adults, since seatbelts are designed to fit adults, not children (and in Europe, according to a Safe Kids expert, smaller adults do use boosters).

If your kiddo hits their 8th birthday and is 4'9", congrats! Now all you have to do is the 5-Point Test to make sure they fit safely!

  1. Can your child sit with their back flat against the back of the seat?
  2. Do their legs bend comfortably past the edge of the seat?
  3. Does the belt cross between the neck and shoulder?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, across the tops of thighs and hip bones?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this the whole trip?

If the answer is no to ANY of those, your kiddo just isn't ready yet. If they won't leave the belt where it belongs, slouch, or fall asleep a lot, they are much safer AND likely to be way more comfortable in a booster. If the belt rides up on their belly, they risk damage to the internal organs, and if it ends up on their neck, it can crush their esophagus and trachea. Not good. Have you had the belt rub on your neck before? Ouch!

Many moms are concerned about finding a booster that fits a larger kid -- don't be. Ask a car seat tech or advocate about the best fitting seat for your child and your budget. Prices vary from $13 for a Harmony Juvenile booster (yes, seriously) to $300 for a Sunshine Kids Monterey booster. I've got a $70 Britax Parkway SG that my 5'9" husband fits into so finding one that fits until your child is big enough to go without just isn't a problem with the seats out there.

When the risk is death, like 6-year-old Isaiah whose mom didn't make sure he was restrained properly for whatever reason, is that $13, probably what you spend at Starbucks in one trip, really worth gambling your child's life over? Yeah, didn't think so.

Do you have questions about how to keep kids in boosters until they're safely past the minimums?

Image via Josef1129/CafeMom

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sassy... sassykat122

Christie the main reason most moms went crazy is because of something you're leaving out, the tail end of the age spectrum, 12-14 years old. I have no problem leaving my toddler rear facing until 2. I don't know why that mom wouldn't have her 6 year old in a booster,  thats slightly against the law that I know of. It's when the laws continually change so of course people will be skeptical of whats true and whats not.

jalaz77 jalaz77

: ( so preventable.

nonmember avatar Anon

On the other hand, the child would have been a lot safer if he were just wearing a lap belt in the back seat (no shoulder belt). I think it's kinda crass to use this tragedy as a way to guilt moms who do make their kids wear seatbelts into extending booster seat use. If I fed my kid rat poison in her formula, you'd probably tout that as a reason moms have to breastfeed.

Melan... MelanieLouise

A lap belt only would have really messed up his internal organs, possibly causing death anyway.

And, this post isn't about breast vs. formula, at ALL, anon. Don't be a bitch.

Emmoney Emmoney

sassykat122 - If my child did not hit 4'9" by age 12, then we'd discuss the risks and benefits of continuing to ride in a booster and decide together what to do. I am hoping my child would rather be safe and risk teasing or whatever. Kids will find something to tease each other about, at least my kid would be safe (if he/she decided to continue in the booster).

nonmember avatar Anon

Melanie, you don't know for a fact that the child's organs would be messed up. You also don't know for a fact that the #1 booster seat would have saved his life. As for calling me a bitch - that epithet always raises my opinion of the person saying it, as well as her viewpoint. Congratulations. (Oh and thanks for telling me that a car seat is not a boob. I learn something new every day.)

MTNes... MTNester1

So preventable.  So sad.  15 seconds to put on the belt and this child could have had a chance.

nonmember avatar kdb

The baby was seriouly injured as well:


Yanira van den Broeck

Thank you so much for a very thoughtful article. I think that if we choose to ignore the facts, there are consequences. If there are studies showing that kids are safer in boosters at 12 and my kids at 12 are not 4'9" they will stay in a booster. I'm the mom, I should know better. And since I know better thanks to the AAP recommendations, the studies and articles like this one, then boosters it is. Again, thank you Christie.

thedg... thedgoddess

I don't think it's crass to use this. I think it's brilliant. People just don't get it. They don't care, they think that they know everything and refuse to admit when they are wrong. And now this child is dead and two babies are injured because they were not properly restrained.


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