SAN ANTONIO – We know that car seats are important for babies and toddlers, but big kids need a boost to keep them safe in the car, too. In Texas, it’s the law.
Even after children outgrow the weight or height limit of their forward-facing car seat, most kids still won't be ready to use just a seat belt. The solution is a booster seat.
“A booster positions the belts over the stronger bony parts of a child’s body, and away from their internal organs,” said Consumer Reports’ Emily Thomas, Ph.D.
Boosters raise children up so the seat belt fits correctly over the sternum and the center of the collarbone and not the neck or arm. The seat belt should also fit low across the upper thighs, rather than the abdomen.
Boosters come in two main styles: high-back and backless. While using a backless one is better than not using one at all, Consumer Reports recommends using high-back booster seats because they do a better job of positioning the shoulder belt and the side wings provide some side impact protection in a crash.
In Texas, children are required to use a safety seat until they are 8 years old and at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. That’s typically when the vehicle seat belt will fit them correctly and they are more comfortable on the larger vehicle seats. That’s also when their bones will be stronger and can better handle the pressure from a seat belt during sudden braking or in a crash.
Even when kids outgrow the need for a booster, Consumer Reports says the safest place for all children under 13 is in the back seat.
WATCH: Five ways to tell if your child is ready to give up his or her booster seat.