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Home Perspectives in Parenting Child Safety My Choice to Keep My Kindergartner in a 5 Point Harness

My Choice to Keep My Kindergartner in a 5 Point Harness

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My Choice to Keep My Kindergartner in a 5 Point Harness

When I was pregnant and registering for my first child, I did a lot of research on all of my baby gear. I read multiple reviews and looked up statistics on cribs, strollers and most importantly, car seats.

Do you ever look back at the car seats of your youth and cringe?

As a child of the 80’s, it’s hard to shake the image of those bucket type car seats out of my mind. Thankfully, though, through the years, car seat research, just like everything else, has improved and car seats have become much safer.photo (2)

To be honest, I didn’t know much about car seats beyond infant carriers and convertible car seats. As my oldest son began to reach the limits of his convertible seat, I decided to see what our next move was. Would it be a booster seat? Another convertible car seat with a higher limit? As I was looking up statistics, I found that the CDC listed that car accidents as the #1 cause of death among children in the United States. Because of this information, I decided I wanted to find the safest option for my child.

Many car seat manufacturers are now offering a five point harness seat with higher weight limits. This made me so happy, as I wasn’t comfortable with putting my son in a booster seat just yet. Some people are shocked that my son is in kindergarten and still in a 5 point harness car seat. While in the carpool line, I see multiple kids his age get into the car without a car seat or booster seat. I’m shocked, as I know that legally they shouldn’t be allowed to ride in a car with only a seat belt. Even though a parent may feel that their child is “old enough” to not need a car seat, they may actually not be big enough to safely sit with a lap belt.

photo (3)The Louisiana Child Passenger Seat Law actually states that a child should begin to wear a seatbelt once they are 6 years old, weigh more than 60 pounds and are 4’9. Even though my son is now 6, he still hasn’t hit the required weight and height limits to ride with only a lap belt. Many top car seat manufacturers not only have car seats that are 5 point harnesses with higher weight limits (ours goes up to 70 pounds), but after the weight limit is reached for the 5 point harness, it then converts over to a booster seat. That’s a win-win in my safety book!

The best way to make sure children are safe is educating their parents with the options available for them to decide what works best for their family. Whether your child is in an infant seat, convertible seat or a booster seat, it’s imperative to have your child buckled safely. I can’t be the only one who has seen a picture posted online of a child and just shook my head when you can obviously see the child isn’t buckled properly and therefore isn’t safe. Always refer to your manufacturer’s warnings, but a good safe practice is to always place the buckle at armpit level.

When did you switch your child to a booster seat? Did you know they now make car seats with 5 point harnesses with higher weight limits?

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Mary is a caffeine addicted boy mom to Noah, Liam and Luke. This “stay at home” mom can typically been found cruising in her minivan, jamming to Beyonce with a Starbucks in hand on her way to carpool or after school activities. Mary has been married to her high school sweetheart since 2007. She is a founder of Delivering Hope NOLA and the Vanessa Wolff Scholarship Fund at her Alma Mater. Mary is passionate in the local preemie community and has been heavily involved with the March of Dimes since her sons Liam and Luke were born premature.

18 COMMENTS

  1. My son is six and still in a five point harness. I just had my seats checked by a technician and he said of all the cars he had checked mine was the safest. He also said that soon Louisiana law would be changed to rearface until they turn three. Bout darn time. I try not to look at other cars in the drop off line cause I can’t stand to watch kids little taller than my two year old (who is still in his infant seat with ten pounds to go) just jumping out of the car with no booster much less harness seat. I just don’t understand how people can be so unconcerned about that. I even gave up saying anything to my sister in law. She did things that had she gotten in an accident (even a mild one) would have severely injured or killed her daughter. She accused me of wishing it on her when I said something. I told her of course I don’t WISH it. I’m trying to make you realize what COULD happen before it is too late. I don’t know why but all of my in-laws believe that if they pretend bad things aren’t a possibility then they won’t happen to them. Even though there isn’t one of them that hasn’t had something bad happen to them. My sil for one is still recovering from an accident she had just before she got pregnant. The fact that I wish to be prepared means I’m HOPING for the bad to happen.

  2. Some thoughts:

    -Thanks for spreading the word about car seat safety!

    -Interestingly, for kids of an appropriate age that are *able to sit properly* in a belt-positioning booster, using a 5-point harness has NOT been shown to be safer than a booster. There isn’t a need to 5-point harness until they’re teenagers, and if a kiddo is outgrowing their existing harnessed seat, is appropriate weight for a booster, and *can sit properly in a booster,* there isn’t a need to go out and get something like a Frontier to keep them harnessed longer. Proper booster behavior includes staying in position, not leaning or twisting around, so that the seatbelt hits them in all the right places at all times. A lot of child passenger safety techs feel that most kids are behaviorally ready for a booster at about age 5.5-6. So rock on with your harnessed kindergartner! And combination seats (forward-facing harnessed seats that turn into belt-positioning boosters) with high weight/height limits are a godsend for bigger/taller kids who still need to be harnessed. Keeping a kid harnessed can also help when trying to do three carseats across the back row, because you don’t have to reach between the seats to buckle like you do with a booster. But a booster is also a very safe choice for a child who is behaviorally ready and the right size.

    -A lot of the time, seats are outgrown by height before weight. The high-seeming weight limits on a lot of seats will never be reached unless the child is overweight. A forward-facing harnessed seat is outgrown by height when the straps are no longer at or above the child’s shoulders.

    -You mention kids riding without boosters. Yes, yes, a million times yes for more booster advocacy! A lot of older kids stop using a booster seat way too soon. Spread the word about the 5-step test — how to check to see whether a child is ready to use just the seatbelt: http://carseatblog.com/3966/the-5-step-test/. The Incognito is a great new booster for older kids who are embarrassed about needing to use a booster. It doesn’t look like a booster seat, more like a cushion, and comes in neutral colors that are meant to blend in with vehicle upholstery.

    -Another great internet resource is Carseat.org. They have an awesome set of forums for questions about car seats and you can post without even having to make an account.

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