Booster or Harness: Which One Is Safer for Children?
There is no doubt that new and experienced parents alike want to do everything they can in order to keep their children safe in the car. Although many parents do research before purchasing and installing car seats, it’s still possible to make an honest mistake.
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is putting their child in the wrong type of seat or changing the seat before the child is actually ready. There is also some confusion about which type of seat is safer: a booster seat or a 5-point harness. The reality is, both type of seats are safe as long as they are used correctly.
5-point harness seat:
The 5-point harness seat is the safest seat for babies and toddlers under the age of 5. This type of seat supports the body on five points: shoulder, shoulder, hip, hip, and crotch. This seat reduces the ability of the child to move around or wiggle out of the seat. The best option is to have your child sit in a rear-facing 5-point harness seat until they are at least 2 years old in order to distribute the force of a crash and help keep them safer. After the age of 2, the seat can be switched to forward-facing.
Many children are ready to move on to a booster seat somewhere between the age of 5 and 7 depending on their weight, height, maturity and the seat itself. The booster seat is better equipt for young children over the age of 5 who are big enough to securely sit in place and not slip through the seat if they are wiggling or in the event of an accident. Booster seats help to correctly position an adult-size seatbelt over a young child’s body and are typically used until age 8. Some children might need time and help to adjust and know to properly stay on the seat, but if they can comfortably and securely sit on the booster during the entire ride, then they are ready. In order to know when to let go of a booster seat carefully read the seat’s manual to know it’s height and weight limit.
There’s no need to rush your children out of their booster seats. After all, they are made to keep them safe when used correctly. If you think your child is ready to sit in the car without a booster, here is a quick test to double check:
- Their back is against the seat
- Their knees bend over the seat and feet reach the floor
- The seat belt sits on the shoulder rather than neck
- The lower part of the seat belt sits on their hips rather than their stomach
- They can comfortably sit this way for the duration of the ride