To Nancy Staniland, the numbers don’t lie: a child buckled
into a booster seat is four times less likely to be seriously hurt in a motor
vehicle crash than a child using an adult seatbelt.
The manager of Alberta Health Services’ Provincial Injury Prevention
Team champions booster seats for all children under the age of nine and
who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds ( 18 and 36 kilograms).
“Most parents understand that babies and very young children need to
ride in child safety seats and, in fact, these seats are required by law in Alberta
for children weighing less than 40 pounds ( 18 kg) and under six years of age,”
Staniland explains. “Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize that a booster
seat is the safest choice once their child grows out of their child safety seat.”
Seatbelts alone are not designed to fit small bodies. “Seatbelts are
designed to properly fit with the lap portion low across the hips and the
shoulder portion crossing the shoulder and chest,” says Staniland. “When
small children use seatbelts alone, the belts typically ride too high up on
the belly and also contact the child’s face and neck. This increases the risk
of internal injuries and serious head and neck injuries. The purpose of a
booster seat — which should always be installed in a vehicle’s rear seat —
is to raise a child up and allow proper positioning of the seatbelt so it can
do its job.”
Booster seats are available in three basic types; the type you choose
depends on your vehicle and where the child will be seated. No matter the
type, all booster seats are only effective when installed properly and used
with a lap-shoulder seatbelt.
Booster seats save lives, so it’s
important to use them
By NICOLE POINTON
Photo by JArED SyCH
A high-back booster is best for vehicles
without headrests in the back seat because
of its built-in head and neck support. Some
child safety seats convert into a booster seat,
so check your model before splurging for a
An adjustable booster is recommended
if your car doesn’t have headrests, and offers
varying degrees of head and neck support as
your child grows.
A backless booster with only a seat
base and armrests is a safe option for
backseats with headrests, in addition to the
other two types, above.
How should it fit
The lap belt should fit snugly across your
child’s upper thighs. The shoulder belt should
cross the shoulder, without sliding onto the
arm or crossing the neck. Ask your child how
they feel — their comfort is key.