Sunday, February 22, 2009

Booster Seat Safety

My weekend went exactly as I predicted ... I was home with the kids all weekend, cooped up, other than tap/ballet and Science class. The only additional outings I threw in were a trip to Target (where Molly screamed the entire time, so we hurried out as quickly as possible) and lunch at Culver's today because I couldn't stand the thought of cleaning up my kitchen one more time. Friday, Saturday, and tonight Kyle returned home after the kids were in bed, so I've had some very long days. Despite the kid time overload, I'm not totally burned out. It's the workweeks that do that. After some serious introspection this weekend, I've realized that when I juggle my job on WFH days and the kids, I see my kids as an "obstacle" (props to my friend for the right word that captures my feelings), whereas on weekends when they are my sole focus I find them much more enjoyable. So the irony here is my WFH days are supposed to be a gift because I get more time with my kids, yet the reality is they are causing me to find my kids frustrating. I guess there's no winning here, as long as I must be a gainfully employed mother.

Tonight I spent my evening doing carseat research. Claire is about two pounds away from graduating to a booster seat, so I decided to check into ratings and prices for different brands. I admit I'm a carseat safety freak, so I was surprised by how many people (actual friends and also people doing online postings) are unaware of booster seat safety. Booster seats, as most parents of older kids know, should not be used until a child is both four years old and weighs 40 pounds (don't make the mistake of thinking it's an "or" ... both criteria has to be met). Boosters are slimmed down carseats that help position the safety belts in the car properly on the child's body.

But most parents like me are not quite ready to let go of that 5-point harness, because we feel our child is safer with it. So a lot of us buy "combination" car seats that progress from regular carseat to booster (and we keep using the harness after 40 lbs, unaware of the danger), or we keep our children in their current carseats for the sake of the harness. Here's the scary thing: most carseat harnesses are not rated past 40 lbs, and if you keep your child in the harness past 40 lbs, there is risk of ejection in an accident. Only two brands were regularly noted online for having 5-point harnesses that are rated past 40 lbs - Britax and Safeguard. So basically that means if you have something other than those two brands I researched, you better be using the car's safety belts instead of a harness with that booster seat. With Safeguard running half the price of Britax, I bought one of their models. I still want the 5-point harness around my kid, and it can grow with her up to 60 pounds on this model. As another plus, my particular model folds into a small carrying bag for travel if needed, which could potentially come in handy for a summer trip to Atlanta that Claire and I might take.

I'll test drive this new seat once it arrives, and if we're happy with it, we'll buy a second one for Kyle's truck. If not, I'll have to find something else, and I'll be back to the debate over whether we're ready for the car's safety belts or whether we still want that 5-point harness.

As another note on carseat safety, I hear that the state troopers suggest that no harness/carseat should be used for more than five years (even though I believe the Britax/Safeguard warranties are more than five years). This usually happens when we give our carseats as hand-me-downs to someone else. Please take this into account when passing on your carseats to another child.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have the britax for the boys. The state trooper who installed it ALSO told me the plasic is only good on them for 4-5 years (even though it goes up to 80lbs). Who knew?!?