Safety Experts Say Kids Should Be in Booster Seats Until They're 12! (That Is Not a Typo)


seat beltWhen I find out who heads up the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, I may have to kiss him (or her!) on the mouth. The folks who deal with all things safe in the car have come out with a suggestion that many kids should remain in a booster seat until -- get this -- 12 years old!

And to that I say thank you! It's about time somebody said it!

Not so happy? Maybe you're one of those parents who just couldn't wait to get their kid out of a booster seat?

I feel you; I really do. They are a pain in the tuchas, especially when your kid is legally old enough to be sitting in the regular car seat. Unfortunately, what the state says is OK isn't always the safest thing for kids.

More From The Stir: Putting Your Child in a Booster Seat Too Soon Could Have Tragic Consequences

In my state, my 8-year-old is legally approved for a regular adult safety belt. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Association reserves the car's regular seat belts for "children who reach a height of 4 feet 9 inches before their eighth birthday." Guess what? My 8-year-old is nowhere near 4 feet 9 inches.

Going booster-less is legal for my kid. But it isn't necessarily safe, and moms like me face a stigma when we keep our kids in the seats.

There are judgy moms and grandparents who look at us like we're over-bearing and over-cautious. Then there are the bratty little snots who come up with gems like "My mom says I don't have to sit in a booster seat anymore. You must be a little baby!" and make you want to kick them out of the carpool.

We're treated like WE'RE the problem.

But we're not.

The problem is bad information.

A kid doesn't magically age out of a booster at age 8. It turns out car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. But the IIHS reports that kids in boosters -- the data is of kids ages 4 to 8 because those are the ages of most kids currently using them -- are 45-percent less likely to be injured in a motor vehicle crash.

Keep kids in boosters longer, and we could keep more kids alive.

To me, it's a no-brainer.

How long is your child going to be in a booster. Would they make it until 12?



Image via goodgerster/Flickr

safety, car seat safety


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Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Mine may well be in a booster till twelve, he was 49" at his eight year check up. He meets the five requirements in the middle of my back seat because the belt is low and the seat is shallow but on the side seats he most definitely needs a booster. He just got out of a five point harness less than six months ago.

work4... work4mickey

What is best is not always a readonable expectation. I don't have a car, and therefore don't have booster seats. When I get rides from friends or family (less than once a month, we ussually take the bus) we don't have one. Before my kids were "legal" the carseat law caused more harm than good. A couple of times, when appts or necessary events ran late, we would have to walk a couple of blocks in the bad neighborhood we lived in, because we could not take a taxi (even though I had the money for a taxi).

However, if it is the parents car, or any vehicle that the child is regualarly transported in, then recomended guidlines should be followed.

nonmember avatar Kate

Since my son was 4'9" at 8 and now is 11 and over 5'2", it would be entirely unsafe for him to be in a booster seat that would make his head almost brush the roof of our van. The guidelines change every year so they can keep making money on the sale of these things.

miche... micheledo

While I agree it is safer, I don't like it becoming a law.  I am NOT a fan having my families safety/health being mandated by the government.  It is MY job, not theirs.

I doubt my first born will be in a booster until he is 12.  He is VERY tall for his age.  I will keep my kids in a booster until they exceed the seat limits.

Momin... MominPa74

Well.... Considering my almost 17 year old was taller than me (5ft 3) before age 11 and my 11 year old is about half an inch shorter than me.... No... They will not be in boosters until 12. Also like another commenter said (and I'll take it one step further) government needs to get out of our daily lives. Unless I am doing something totally dangerous (like letting a 2 year old be unsupervised with a loaded gun) mind your own business when it comes to my kids and their safety (to the government).

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

My daughter (at 7) is 4'10'' and hasnt been able to sit comfortably in a booster seat in months. I think it depends on your kid... 

keelh... keelhaulrose

I think they should drop the age guidelines, and put ina  height/weight guideline. My five year old is 50 inches tall already, I doubt she's not going to surpass that extra eight inches before twelve. My family is tall, but my husband's family... let's just say my husband is the 'short' one at 6'5". My daughters both surpassed the 'recommended' guideline for rear-facing carseats by 11 months (I kept them in longer, until they passed the seat's reccomended height/weight, but that was still before two).

The age thing is just asinine, because no two kids grow exactly alike, and I know there are shorter children. But putting an age on it makes parents only look at the age. If the ages were dropped except in certain cituations I think parents would go along with that instead of just looking at the age and switching out.


How on earth did we manage to get to the ages we are without the gov. going crazy

Senia... Seniahmom

The linked article says that fit is most important and that could mean a child could be as old as 12 before the fit is correct and for people to keep there kids in boosters until the fit correctly in the seat.

It should be a no brained to keep kids in seats until they fit properly. I don't understand why they wouldn't. And honestly it isn't that expensive if you do your research. I got the tallest convertible seat on the market (less than $200 reg & I got them cheaper on sale). They'll rear face until the reach the limits of the seat. Then they'll harness as long as possible in it forward facing. Then they'll get a booster which are pretty cheap. It's a matter of physics which I understand so it is a no brainer to me to keep them in a seat as long as needed.

Stephanie Birdsall Lippman

I have to disagree with you on "the problem".  The problem is that we don't respect eachothers decisions and we stick our noses in other peoples carseats.  Simply sharing information and being accepting and supportive of one another would be a fantastic way to end "the problem."

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