Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The post where I admit I made an ignorant decision...

Sunday I was in the car with a friend.

Our 4 and 5 year olds were in the backseat chattering about the birthday parties they had all day long.

We were all jacked up on cupcakes and cake and slowly crashing from our sugar high.

My friend and I began talking as we made our trip back home.

"Hey, why did you move Caroline to a booster seat?"



Yeah, I don't know.

"Well, she is 4 and she is 40 pounds so I moved her."

Caroline was in a high back booster seat.

My answer bothered me to no end.

I thought about it the rest of the day and night.

Why is Caroline in a booster seat?

Because it is easier to move from car to car?

Because she is 40 pounds and 4 years old? What does that even mean?

What stupid answers, Hailey.

I finally had had enough of beating myself up.

I did what all normal parents do in a crisis such as this... I googled.

After spending a few hours researching, reading, watching youtube... I decided that moving my 4 year old to a high back booster seat was one of the most stupid and ignorant things I have ever done.

Caroline needed to be in a 5-point harness car seat.

I simply switched her to a booster for the convenience and because the law said it was "ok".

Not once did I realize the extreme danger I was putting my child in.

I guess I thought "She is safe. She is in a seat belt."

Then I saw this video... (for the record, there is no sound. YouTube removed the music.)


What was I thinking is all I could ask myself over and over again.

Then, I watched this crash test...

The child on the right is in a 5 point harness car seat while the child closest to us is in a booster.

With a child in a booster seat, the child is at risk for "submarining". This happens when the seat belt is not properly in place. During a car crash the child slides under the seat belt causing serious injuries.

Other things that was drawn to my attention during my research:

- Pay close attention to the maximum weight and height restrictions on ALL seats.
Being that Caroline is 41 pounds, she exceeds the weight max on all of her 5-point-harness car seats. Therefore, I searched and found a decently priced Graco that holds up to 65 pounds. I also know that Sunshine Kids makes a 5-point-harness car seat for a maximum of 80 pounds.

- Make sure your child's harness is snug. Per federal requirements, current instruction manuals define a snug harness as: "A snug strap should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child's flesh or push the child's body into an unnatural position." Do the pinch test. If you can pinch a fold in the harness above the chest clip, the straps are too loose.

- A friend saw a picture of Bug on my FB. He immediately messaged me to let me know that I had the shoulder straps on Bug's car seat set too low.
Moving from rear-facing to forward-facing was very confusing to me. I knew that in a rear-facing seat Bug's straps needed to be at or below her shoulders. Therefore, I assumed it was the same with forward-facing. However, for forward-facing car seats, you use harness slots at or above child's shoulders.
Thank goodness he pointed it out to me. (His wife is the friend that brought about this whole post ;-))

- The chest clip was also not a big deal to me. I thought if it was clipped, the children were fine. Pshhh! Wrong again. Make sure the chest clip is fastened at armpit level.

- Seat belts DO fail so use LATCH and Top Tether when available. There is conflicting findings on the LATCH system. Some say it will hold up to 40 lbs. After that, the use of a seat belt to hold the car seat in place is necessary. Some findings say that 48 lbs is the max. If you have any information on this, please share with the rest of us.

I point all of these things out for the simple fact that I thought was doing everything right. My 2 year old was in a car seat. My 4 year old was in a high-back booster seat.

I am not saying that you are doing it wrong. But as a parent, we do everything we can to keep our children safe.

I learned so much in 2 hours of googling than any car seat manual could ever teach me.

I also learned that just because the law says it's "ok", doesn't mean that is what is best for your child.

My not having a good answer to the question, "Why did you move Caroline to a booster?", was reason enough for me to move her back to a 5-point harness.

My hope is that at least one of my readers questions and tests there child's car seat.

Driving is the most dangerous situation we put our children in everyday. It takes seconds to make sure they are properly strapped in and hopefully your child will be in a 5-point harness.

PS- Caroline has a new Graco Nautalis 3-in-1 Car seat on it's way. And yes, it is pink and is complete with pink and purple flowers.

** And thanks to my friends, the Laws, for opening my eyes ;-)


Neila said...

ok, now I'm freaking. Both Camille and Andrew are in boosters. Camille is 5.5 and Andrew is 3.5 and they are both over 40 lbs. guess i need to do some research.

Loukia said...

Oh my gosh... my five year old is in a booster seat (he's REALLY tall and over 60 pounds) and now my three year old, also VERY TALL and well over 55 pounds is also in a booster seat. Hmm.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post and pointing this out to me. My daughter is also in a booster seat and now I will look into getting her a new (also pink) carseat. So scary...

Jeff L said...

Awesome post Hailey! Here's a partial list of LATCH anchor limits. But beware some of the manufacturers with higher than usualy limits (like subaru) are taking the child + seat into account, so make sure you consult your vehicle's manual to make sure you don't need to subtract out the weight of the seat.

The first number is the lower LATCH anchor limit and the second number is the tether limit.

Acura 40 40
Audi–all except 48 48
A4 Cabriolet 40 40 Convertible, no tether anchors
TT Coupe 40 40
Buick 48 40
Cadillac 48 40
Chevrolet/Geo 48 40
Chrysler 48 48
Dodge 48 48
Ford 48 60–80 60 for shell-type CR, 80 for harness/vest
GMC 48 40
Honda 40 40
Hummer 48 40
Jeep/Eagle 48 48
Lincoln 48 60–80 60 for shell-type CR, 80 for harness/vest
Mercedes-Benz 40 40
Mercury 48 60–80 60 for shell-type CR, 80 for harness/vest
Oldsmobile 48 40
Plymouth 48 48
Pontiac 48 40
Porsche 39 55
Saab 40 40
Saturn 48 40
Subaru 60 60
Volkswagen–all except 48 48
Passat (pre-9/04) 40 40
New Beetle 40 40
* If brand is not listed, the vehicle manufacturer defers to child restraint instructions
or give no guidance.

Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? said...

Great points!

I so wanted Iz to stay in a 5-point. And, she was, until I went to adjust the shoulder straps and couldn't put them up any higher.

And, I looked everywhere, and we actually have a 5-point with the highest height on it...and she's too damn tall.

So, sadly, I had to move her to the high backed booster...and I fought kicking and screaming.

(And, equally saddened that they make the seats more for weight than height. Iz is actuall 4.5 years old and hasn't broken 40lbs yet, so here I was thinking the seat would last forever, but she can't safely sit in it with the shoulder straps beneath her shoulders!)

Boo his!

Amy said...

i've been meaning to comment on this. first off i think its great that you put her back in a harness, its so much safer and most 4 year olds are not ready to sit properly in a booster. Connor is almost 6 and is just starting to use a booster in my moms car (only for short trips, i still move his other seat if we're going far) and he is still harnessed in my truck 100% of the time. i know hes safer and he prefers it anyway.
Krystyn, what seat is Iz in? b/c its pretty unlikely that she has outgrown the tallest seat on the market as Connors seat is one of the tallest and he's 95%for height and still has 2 inches above his shoulders (and my 9.5yo niece still fits it also).
ok i just skimmed your blog and you had the Britax Boulevard. the top setting on that seat is only about 15.5 inches, no where near the tallest on the market. the graco nautilus ($137 @WM) has top slots of 18inches and the Britax Frontier85 (201 @diaper.com with coupon)has top slots of 20 inches so you could get her one of those and she would have years more of being harnessed. so you definitely can keep her harnessed