Kids Archive

8 isn’t Enough

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A few days ago, my son Elias reached an important milestone: He turned 8.

In half of the states in America, kids turning 8 celebrate finally “freeing” themselves of the “constraint” of a booster seat. Yet as safety advocates and an increasing number of parents (and kids!) know, age has little to do with being able to ride safely in an adult seatbelt.

My own son has had vehicle safety driven into his head since the time he was born, and he does take it pretty seriously. Lately, though, even he has been longing to ditch his booster. I told him that on his birthday, we would check the fit in the regular seatbelt, just to see.

He’s familiar with the 5-step test kids need to pass before they can safely move into an adult seatbelt alone:

  • Child sits all the way back in the seat
  • Child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat
  • The lap belt sits low on the hips, touching the thighs (not on the tummy)
  • The shoulder belt crosses the middle of the shoulder (not falling off, and not rubbing the neck)
  • Child can sit that way for the entire ride

In my state, it’s actually part of the law that the seatbelt needs to fit properly before graduating from a booster seat, although most people (including lots of police officers) don’t realize that.

Elias is a tall kid: 54″ (90th percentile for 8-year-olds), so I worried a bit that he actually would fit well. But a promise is a promise, so here he is sitting in his usual position in the third row of our 2010 Honda Odyssey.

The lap belt is high, and the shoulder belt is on his neck. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but his knees aren’t anywhere near the edge of the seat.

I’ll admit I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw how horrible the fit was without the booster seat. Then I cringed, thinking of how many kids ride like this anyway.

Please make sure that your children fit properly in a seatbelt regardless of age, weight, or height, and remember that the fit might vary based on the vehicle and seating position. Needless to say, Elias is back in his booster and will remain there for quite some time.

 

 

Workin’ at the Kid Wash (Yeah!)

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My family is in limbo right now. A few months ago, we sold our house and moved into a rental for a year. In a few more months, we plan on moving…somewhere. But not here. Our temporary house is nice enough, but it’s not ours, and since we’re not here for long, there’s a lot of stuff we haven’t bothered unpacking, and we haven’t wanted to invest in things like closet organizers that we might not need in our next place. So we’re feeling very unsettled and a bit anxious.

That’s why we decided to do something fun this summer to try to nudge us out of our doldrums.

Several years ago I found the plans for a “Kid Wash” in Family Fun magazine. It’s a sprinkler reminiscent of a car wash, but made for kids to run through. My husband agreed that it looked neat and we planned on building it, but never did. So I decided this was finally the year.

We went to the dollar store and Home Depot for all of our Kid Wash needs. We already had the PVC glue (not required, but we did glue a few parts) and pipe cutters at home. The rest of the supplies cost about $50.

Then we all got to work. I measured and marked. Steve cut. My 8-year-old helped drill the holes, and my 3-year-old helped glue. We put the pieces together, connected the hose, and next thing you knew, we had the hottest, coolest front yard in the neighborhood.

Steve altered the plans a bit. We eliminated the “stop” and “go” signs (the kids would ignore them anyway), and instead of nylon lawn-chair webbing (ouch!), we used pool noodles. We also wound up changing out the bits that shoot straight up for angled ones that further spray the kids as they run through. (That was a later alteration, so this picture doesn’t show it.)

My daughter decided that she wanted a “happy smile face that shoots water out of its mouth,” so we gave her a plastic plate to draw the face. Then we attached that and drilled through the plate and the pipe.

The nice thing about this project is that you really can customize it to fit your desires. (I admit it feels a bit sacrilegious to use pool noodles for something other than car seats, though I suppose this is closer to their true intent.)

Have I mentioned it’s a lot of fun, even for the grownups? Not that I’d know. I haven’t run through it dozens of times myself. Swear.

You might be shaking your fist in the air and yelling, “Jennie! Why tell us about this now that summer is almost over?!”

Where I live June is often downright chilly, and we might not hit our peak temperatures until September. It can be sweltering well into October. So the timing is actually great for us. Even if you live somewhere with a “normal” temperature, though, you still have a few more weeks before it gets cold, right? And if not, you can start collecting supplies and planning now for next year. You have a head start!

As with anything, make sure you take proper safety precautions, like using protective eyewear when you run through. (Not really. My kids are wimps.)

Just stay cool, and have fun.

 

 

Our Favorite Car-Seat.org Links

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CarseatBlog.com is the official blog of www.car-seat.org. Car-seat.org is a group of forums designed to help parents and caregivers find answers to carseat dilemmas. We have a Canadian/International forum, a technical forum, and a forum for vehicle selection to name a few. Many of our blog readers found us through CSO, as we lovingly call it. If you found the blog through Google, you probably don’t know of some of the many helpful threads found on our forums. Following is a list of our favorite threads.

 

Have you tried to find a technician local to you but been unsuccessful? Try this link for a partial listing of CSO techs.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=59135

 

I know we have environmentally conscious readers (hey, I’m green too!) who would rather recycle their carseats than throw them out with the garbage when they’re at the end of their useful life or have been in a crash. This thread lists recycling centers—maybe you’ll find a center close to you!

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=156221

 

Need to get 3 carseats across your back seat? Not sure if you can do it in your vehicle? Try searching this thread for help.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=33226

 

Do you have a special needs child? We have a forum for you!

http://www.car-seat.org/forumdisplay.php?f=36

 

Here’s a thread that shows booster comparisons for a thin child.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=213218

 

I know it’s getting warmer out now, but maybe I’ll plant a seed for next winter. Coats and carseats don’t mix and here’s a picture tutorial.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=151522 and a somewhat updated version, http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=200355

 

Hopefully this gives you a taste of what a goldmine CSO truly is. We have lots of techs and knowledgeable regulars who are willing and able to answer your child passenger safety questions.

Now for your role: do you have a favorite “upstairs” thread that you’ve found particularly helpful? Please post the link in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

A Glossary of Common Carseat Terms

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How many times have you been looking at carseats and come across a word that you didn’t understand? In this specialized field, we have lots of terms that are important to you as a consumer and parent. Hopefully this list will make reading labels and manuals a bit easier! These terms apply to TYPICAL situations and are terms you’ll see mentioned often here on the blog; however, child passenger safety is a field of exceptions. Read your owners’ manuals for further clarification on your setup.