They offer protection for the child and reassurance for you when you install them in your car. However, as with any piece of safety equipment, there are strict rules governing their sale and use, and it can be confusing and daunting to work your way through it. You might have heard of booster seats, but are they legal and how old or tall does your child need to be to use one?
This Dadsnet guide looks at the rules around booster seats for children and what you need to do to ensure your child is as safe as possible when out and about in the car.
What Are Booster Seats?
It seems like a good place to start by asking what booster seats actually are. Booster seats are cushions designed to raise your child up so that the car’s seatbelt fits them snugly and safely. There are two different kinds of booster seats available. One us the backless booster seat, with the alternative being a high back booster seat. The high back booster seat has padding around your child’s side, neck and head.
Which is the Safest Type of Booster Seat?
Undoubtedly, the high back booster seat is the safest option. The chair gives your child the added padding and protection that could help prevent injury if they happened to be in an accident. The side impact protection is all-important for safety, and the simple, backless booster seats add no extra assistance to the child.
Not only is a high back booster seat more protective, but it is also more comfortable for the child on long journeys.
What Are the Booster Seat Laws?
The booster seat laws changed in 2017 to persuade parents to opt for high back booster seats over the backless variety. Since then, all newly built backless booster seats are only to be used by children over 22kg or 125cm tall – approximately the size of a 9-year-old. If you have an existing booster cushion, that is still legally acceptable for kids weighing 15kg or more.
However, the recommendation is that children remain in a high back booster seat beyond the time when they hit 15kg, up to the point where they weigh 35kg or reach 135 cm. This is the minimum level at which they can sit in the regular seat while travelling in the car.
In short, although the law allows backless booster seats, the advice is to keep the high back booster seat until the child is legally able to give up the car seat altogether.
What Should I Do?
If you still want to buy a backless booster seat, make sure you only look at reputable firms, and that you research them thoroughly with consumer and safety groups to make sure they offer the safest purchase possible.
However, the added safety features of the high back booster seat make it almost a no-brainer. Anything that offers the maximum protection to a child in the car must be worth investing in. There are a huge number of options from leading manufacturers such as Joie, all of which provide safety and comfort for your kids.