When Noah was just over a year old, we were given a backless booster seat for him to use. We did think he was still a bit small for a seat like that, even though it did say it was suitable for children from 18 months old and he was the right weight, being a big boy. So we put it away, to use one day when he was a little older.
With him turning 3 at the beginning of this year, and being well within the weight recommended on this particular seat, we thought we would use the backless booster seat in my mom-in-laws car, and keep his current car seat in our car. That was until I learnt some things about the backless booster seat – things that made me realise that it is not necessairily an ideal alternative for my child to use in any car.
And here is what I have learned, thanks to initiatives like #CarseatFullstop
The biggest eye opener for me was that a backless booster seat offers zero side impact protection. Nothing. None at all. Independent crash testing has shown that in a side impact collision, the child’s head hits the car door, and they can slip out of the seatbelt. When I first read this, my blood ran cold. It seems so obvious to me now that I know this, simply because there are no side or back panels supporting my child’s body…just a cushion and a belt.
The booster seat helps to raise your child to the 1.5m height that they need to be, for the belt to be positioned properly around their little bodies. That doesn’t always help to keep their little, developing bodies safe though.
“A child under 1.5m tall isn’t safe in the car’s seatbelt – and it isn’t only height related – you will get a lot of people who will say, ‘Oh, I am 40 but only just 1.5m so I probably also need a booster seat.’ While technically the seatbelt can seriously hurt an adult who is at or even just above or below 1.5m, the adult body is finished developing – a child’s is not.” Mandy-Lee Miller, Founder and Director #CarseatFullstop
It is also important to note that if your child is short, but heavier than the weight limit of the booster seat, they still need to use a booster seat until they are 1.5m tall, but preferably a full, high back booster seat. This is because their weight is caught by the seatbelt when in a booster seat, and not a harness. So it is important that the belt is positioned properly, with the help of a high back booster seat.
I’m not going to lie, after I found out jut how unsafe backless booster seats actually are, I was ready to throw ours away immediately. But, there is a place for backless booster seats in the South African context.
Many older South African children have to use public transport, Uber or some form of school transport. These products will at least protect your child from the seatbelt, so they are safer than nothing at all.
If your child is over 125cm AND over 22kg, your centre seat has a full 3-point seatbelt and you have to fit 3 car seats in the back. The centre of the back seat is technically the safest position in the car. The thought behind being able to use a non-car seat in the centre is that having two full car seats on either side will provide some level of side impact protection.
If you have just realised your child should be in a booster seat and you need something until you can save enough for a full high back booster seat.
If you are traveling within South Africa and are unable to take your proper full-back booster seat.
Taken from a post on the #CarseatFullstop website here.
If all you have is a backless booster seat, it is better to use it, than to use nothing at all. While it is not ideal, we will still be using our backless booster seat, FOR NOW, while we look into other, safer options for us to use for our Noah instead.
You are able to purchase BeSafe and Recaro car seats through #CarSeatFullStop, at great prices. So we will be looking into our options through them, and replacing our backless booster seat ASAP.