One of the greatest joys as a parent is seeing your child grow. You eagerly look forward to each new skill and milestone, marking your child’s growth and new abilities year by year. Like most parents, you look forward to celebrating transitions: eating solid foods for the first time, moving from a crib to a toddler bed, switching from a high chair to a booster seat, heading off to preschool and kindergarten, and more.
Parents are eager to praise and document these transitions. However, in their enthusiasm to see their child progress, they may push these milestones too soon. While it is exciting to watch a child grow, rushing some transitions can compromise safety. This is especially the case with car seats and booster seats. In your enthusiasm to see your child progress to the next stage, avoid the temptation to move your child to the next car seat stage too early—your priority should always be your child’s safety.
Let’s take a look at common mistakes parents make when it comes to transitioning their children to a new car seat, alternative car seat, or booster seat, why early transitions are a problem, and what we can do about it.
Common Mistakes Parents Make
Parents have a general idea of the progression their baby will follow in riding a car seat: infant seat, comfortable car seat rear facing, convertible car seat forward facing, and then booster seat or alternative to booster seats like ClypX. But they may not always know the recommendations regarding when these transitions are recommended to take place.
While every state has different laws and requirements regarding the use of child restraint systems, pediatricians recommend following the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to ensure the greatest safety for your children while riding in a car. Based on the AAP’s latest recommendations, here are common car-seat transition mistakes parents are making:
- Switching to forward-facing too soon. Parents see their toddler’s legs growing longer and hitting against the seat and wonder if it is time to switch their child to forward facing. Other parents make the switch the day their toddler turns 2. However, the AAP recommends that children ride rear-facing as long as possible—that is, as long as the car seat manufacturer recommends. Most convertible car seats have weight limits that let children ride rear-facing for 2 years or more. Check your car seat manual for manufacturer recommendations and keep your child facing back until he or she has grown too tall or heavy, preferably until age four. In Sweden, kids ride in rear-facing car seats until they are four years old. Based on current technology and knowledge, the safest position for a child is a rear-facing car seat.
- Transitioning to a booster seat too soon. Your child is ready for preschool or even kindergarten and still riding in a forward-facing five-point harness car seat. With all the changes your child is going through, you might be tempted to also move your new “big kid” from a car seat into a booster seat. However, it is recommended that toddlers and even preschoolers ride in a car seat until they reach the upper height or weight limit of the seat. Most convertible car seats can fit kids anywhere from 40 to 60 pounds. When your child sits forward facing, make sure to keep the harness as tight as possible—you shouldn’t be able to pinch the straps. This tension is what keeps your child safe in the event of an accident. If for any reason you start loosening up the harness in your child’s car seat, it is time to upgrade to a booster seat or FMVSS 213 approved alternative to a booster seat, like ClypX. Please remember that ClypX or a booster seat will be much safer for your child than a car seat with a loose harness. They utilize retractable car seat belts that apply constant tension to help eliminate seat belt slack.
- Not using a booster seat altogether. When a child has grown out of the car seat and has ridden in a booster for a few years, parents might get worn out from heaving their elementary-school-aged student, day after day, into a booster seat. They find it quicker and easier to let their kids sit right on the seat buckle up like a grown up—and it is fun seeing your child do new things. Plus, some kids at this age might be protesting sitting in a booster seat, wanting to be more comfortable or to imitate older siblings. Also, some parents might be getting tired of dealing with cumbersome booster seats. However, the AAP recommends that children continue to ride in an appropriate child restraint system until they reach 4 feet 9 inches, which is usually around 12 years old. ClypX is a great FMVSS 213 approved device that can replace booster seats and solve all these issues.
These recommendations given by the AAP and other organizations aren’t arbitrary—they are based on crash test results. An age-appropriate, tested, and approved car seat, booster seat, or a new alternative device like ClypX is your best bet for preventing injury and keeping your child safe in case of a car accident when applied accordingly to the child’s age, size, and the manufacturer manual.
Why Premature Transitions Are a Problem
A child’s safety is the top concern for many parents. But in the day-to-day struggles of parenting, and with the excitement of seeing their child progress, many parents prematurely transition their kids to the next car seat or booster seat. Plus, many parents—and kids for that matter—think a preteen is too old for a child restraint system and can use car seat belts alone, but that is not the case. Here’s why premature child restraint system transitions can compromise safety:
- Premature forward facing: Rear-facing has been proven to be the safest way for young kids to travel, giving them the most protection from life-threatening head and neck injuries. Young toddlers have proportionally larger heads. Forces in a crash can throw a baby’s head forward, exposing them to injury. Sure, it’s exciting to see your baby’s face in the rearview mirror while you’re driving, but it isn’t worth the risk. These days there are many rear-facing car seats available that can keep your kids rear-facing longer than age 2. In fact, in Sweden children ride rear-facing up to age 4. y restrained.
- Premature booster seats: The five-point harness of the forward-facing car seat keeps your child safe and secure in place. Your child will be safer in this secure restraint than a booster seat for as long as they fit the manufacturer’s specified height and weight limits. If your child fits a forward-facing car seat and is willing to sit in one without moving too much, don’t move them to a booster seat yet. Also, don’t be fooled by the presence of a five-point harness car seat. The moment you let your child have a loose harness, it endangers your child. Instead, think of moving your child up to a next level in child restraint systems like ClypX or a booster seat.
- Skipping the booster seat: Booster seats are designed to hold your child up high enough so that car seat belts can fit them properly and securely restrain them. According to the Centers for Disease Control, booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury in a car accident by 45 percent for children ages 4 to 8. Use a booster seat until the seat belt alone can fit them properly. Please remember that the shoulder belt must lay across the chest, not the neck, or be held under the armpits or even behind the child’s back. The lap belt must be positioned over the hips, preferably touching the upper thighs, and not directly on the abdomen. ClypX is a tested and approved alternative to booster seats. Its design makes a seatbelt safer for children ages 4 to 12 to use and is much less cumbersome and more portable than a booster seat.
An Alternative to Booster Seats
If you have transitioned your child to a booster seat—or out of a booster seat—too soon, don’t panic. It is not too late to correct your mistake. Now that you know the recommended child restraint system uses and why it is important to follow these recommendations, act now to follow them.
Switching your 2-year-old back to rear facing isn’t in any way a step backward in your child’s growth. And keeping your 4-year-old in a car seat or your 7-year-old in ClypX or booster seat isn’t going to stop them from learning and progressing in other ways. Safety while riding in motor vehicles has to be a priority.
You might be wondering how in the world you’re going to convince your 8-year-old to keep using his booster seat, or how to get your 10-year-old back into hers. As kids get older, they may view the booster seat as uncomfortable or childish. In that case, your best bet for safety is to look for an alternative to booster seats.
That’s where ClypX comes in. ClypX is a safety-tested device used to position a seat belt so that it is safe and effective for restraining children. This is an alternative to booster seats that older children will actually agree to—it is small, subtle, portable, and allows them to ride safely in the car without a clunky seat. ClypX works great for younger children, too, as long as they are able to sit up straight in the car and don’t fall in and out of sleep during car rides. If your preschooler is wiggling in their front-facing car seat and wanting a looser harness, ClypX will give them freedom of movement without sacrificing safety. ClypX is a solution that can make both kids and parents happy.
Start using ClypX today to keep your kids safe and help them feel more comfortable in the car.