Four Steps for Kids: Seat Belts

22 Sep

When your child has outgrown their booster seat, they are ready to use the vehicle seat belt. Instead of going just on age, height, or weight, you should go through the 5 step test to make sure they are ready to be in just the vehicle seat belt. The 5 step test is:

1. Does the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then your child is ready to be in that vehicle’s seat belt. You should perform this test in each vehicle, because your child may be ready in some vehicles, but not all.

Just like with booster seats, your child should always use a lap and shoulder belt, not a lap-only belt. You should also make sure your child keeps the shoulder portion of the seat belt in place and not tucked under their arm or behind their back. Without the shoulder portion, there is no protection for the torso, and the child will move forward much more.

Make sure that everyone in your car has their own seat belt. Children should never share a seat belt.

Children should ride in the back seat of the car until at least 13 years old.

Don’t use any products that say they help make the seat belt fit better. They may not make the seat belt fit better at all, such as putting the lap portion up too high on the abdomen instead of down touching the thighs or creating extra space in the shoulder portion making it loose. If the seat belt doesn’t fit properly, then the child should most likely be in a booster seat.

Be a good example for you children. Wear your seat belt every time you are in the car and wear it properly.

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