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Did you know that approximately 500 children between the ages of 4 and 7 are killed each year in automobile accidents? In addition, thousands more are injured when involved in these accidents. Yet, the Partners for Child Passenger Safety reports that only about 19% of children between these ages use booster seats. This is an unfortunate fact, as booster seats can significantly reduce a child’s risk of suffering from injury or death.
Why Your Children Should Use Booster Seats
Many parents think they are protecting their children when they strap them up with an adult seatbelt, but the reality is that these seatbelts are too large for children. In fact, using an adult seatbelt on a child without using a booster seat can actually be more dangerous to the child than wearing no seatbelt at all. This is because a booster seat helps elevate your child so the seatbelt can properly fit over his or her hips. If the seatbelt is out of proper position, it can cut across your child’s neck and into his or her stomach. As a result, your child can suffer from serious neck or abdominal injuries.
When to Move Away from the Booster Seat
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Once your child has grown out of a forward-facing child seat, he or she should use a booster seat until he or she is at least 4’9″. Even if your child is 4’9″, however, you shouldn’t set the booster seat aside until your child is able to be belted with the car’s seatbelt properly. You will know your child is ready to move to the car’s seatbelt when he or she is able to sit with his or her back to the rear of the seat and with both feet flat on the floor. Your child should also be able to sit with his or her knees bent and with the lap belt across his or her thighs.