Keep Them Safe, Part 2 – Car Seat Safety for Children

My sweet Alexa just turned six a few weeks ago! I can’t believe how fast time flies. She got in the car the other day frustrated and upset, so I asked what the matter was and she said, “When can I be a big girl and have a booster seat? I’m the only one in my class in a baby seat!”

Sigh. It’s so frustrating as parents sometimes when we try and make the best decisions for ourselves and our families, and it goes against the norm of what others do. I can imagine this is how parents with food allergies feel –  we have a few of those but she manages to deal with those better than the seat. The thing is, one of the major frustrations I have is how little many people know about booster seats and carseat safety, and why there isn’t better information out there to teach us what is best, in my case I have the best baby travel system strollers. Unfortunately, most state laws do not follow what is actually safest for our children. For many people, they see that the seat fits a certain weight and height requirement and figure, sure, I can put my child in that.

The reality is, it might not be the safest choice for your child. So, let’s talk a little bit about a forward facing 5 point harness seat (which Alexa at 6 will be in for at least another year) and booster seats!

Harness vs. Booster

When you move your child into a booster seat, it will give them freedom and mobility in the seat they have never had before. If your child is anything like my child, she is not a kid that sits very still for long! All of the sudden, they can lean sideways, slouch, bother their sibling, pick up a toy off the floor, and so on . If a child is wiggling out of position at the time of a crash, that split second can cause them to have a serious injury or death. This means that the decision to move your child from a forward facing 5 point harness to a booster should be based on your childs ability to sit correctly for 100% of the ride even while asleep, and not based on their stats. This usually happens somewhere past age 5 but for most children not until 6 or 7 .

Ready For a Booster?

Generally, kids will need a booster until they are 4’9″ tall, which happens around age 11 for most kids. To ride without a booster, a child needs to be able to pass the 5 step test:

  1. Sits all the way back against the vehicle seat.
  2. Knees bent at the edge of the vehicle seat and feet on the floor.
  3. Shoulder belt fits evenly across the collarbone and sits flush with the torso.
Lap belt is low on the hips, touching the tops of the thighs.
Can stay comfortably seated this way the entire ride.


Seatbelt Alone

A child can sit in a seatbelt alone when a child is at least 10 years old and can pass the 5-step test shown below:

  1. Child sits all the way back in the vehicle seat with knees bent at the edge.
  2. Shoulder belt fits evenly across the torso, not cutting into the neck or face.
  3. Lap belt is low on the hips, touching the tops of the thighs.
  4. Feet are on the floor.
  5. Child can stay seated comfortably this way for the entire ride.

Here in New England it has been freezing this winter, like negative numbers without the windchill! Naturally we want our kids to be warm but we also need them to be safe in their seats which mean no jackets, baby buntings or bulky clothing in the carseat! The problem is that the bulky layers don’t allow for a proper tight fit of the harness or seatbelt (yes, this means you as an adult as well). As described at, during a collision, the force of the impact can compress the jacket and the harness can become too loose and the individual an be ejected from the seat. The video below details this well.

A Note On Winter Coats

So, how do we keep warm in the winter? Dress in layers, warm up the car for 5 minutes before leaving and jackets can be put on on top of the buckles backwards to keep warm   – or tuck a blanket on top once everyone is buckled!

Coat with a Carseat

Motherhood is a Courageous journey, keeping our children as safe as possible is part of that and even if you have been doing things “Wrong” its never to late to stop and make a change. One of my favorite quotes from the amazing Maya Angelou “ “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

(Be sure to also read Part 1 – Car Seat Safety for children of all ages, including newborns!.


To find a certified technician in your area to help you with installation please see:

In the USA


Images and some information gathered from

Maria Fuller

I’m a former critical care paramedic with a concentration in Emergency and Disaster Management, an injury on the job led me to retire from that and manage the disaster that is my home these days, I’m lucky I had good training!

I believe in Love at first sight- I met my husband on his 18th birthday and the rest is history

I’m passionate about a women’s right to birth without fear or pressure whether that is at home or in a hospital, I’ve done it in both places.

I have two beautiful girls, Alexa and Arya, 5.5 years apart. I believe each of my daughters was sent to me to remind me of a piece of myself I have lost along the way, it has been exciting journey to rekindle those parts of “ME” again.

We live on a little River in Southbury, CT with our Rotti Beagle mix, a Crazy 1 year old German Shephard and a fat cat that won’t leave the basement, he might be to fat to climb the stairs.

I love a good margarita on the rocks with Salt but ONLY if my husband makes it with hand squeezed lemons, limes and homemade simple syrup, any other margarita sucks.

I listen to “pitbull” in the car with my daughters, they have no idea who Raffi is but Alexa knows most of the words to “Calle Ocho”

I’m the girl who will love you fiercely but is not afraid to “tell you like it is”, if I do, it means I actually care about you!

I love my girls but there are many days I don’t like them or want to be around them. Yep, I just said that, its normal for you to feel that too!

I believe that mothers a given a handbook when their baby is born, its called “intuition” and it will never lead her astray.

I am a photographer who helps women “Celebrate the Courageous journey of motherhood”

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