Once, a long, long time ago, I made my oldest son a promise. I told him that I wouldn’t make him ride to Middle School in a “seat”. But I also said that up until that point, it was my decision to make. He accepted my terms (maybe I should say that he learned to live with it because he knew arguing would have been pointless) and the years went by….
Backing up a bit - my first son has been around 50th percentile in both weight and height since he was 2 years old. That much hasn’t changed over the years. Last May, when he turned 11 he weighed 78 lbs and was 56.5″ tall. I hoped that with a little healthy food, some luck, and a whole lot of sleeping late over summer vacation that he’d have a growth spurt. He did, and for the most part I’m pleased with how he now fits in the captain’s chair of my van without a booster.
Still, it’s a big leap for me to make. He looks so short back there without his Combi Dakota LBB. But I guess after 11 years of looking back and seeing him in some kind of seat - this is just going to take some getting used to.
My only regret is that he’s not a little bit taller. My ’05 Freestar has side curtain airbags but unless you’re at least as tall as the 5th percentile female dummy when seated – there’s no guarantee that they’re going to protect your head. Unfortunately, the truth is that most curtain airbags do not deploy down far enough to protect the heads of child occupants. Currently, the only assurance that we have is that the IIHS does their SI crash testing using the 5th percentile female dummy. Vehicle manufacturers are aware of this so you can bet that they make their curtain ABs deploy down far enough to protect her head. Her seated height is 31″ tall. So, if your child has a seated height of at least 31″ (with or without a CR) then you can be relatively confident that your child may benefit from the additional protection of your vehicle’s curtain ABs.
My DS currently has a seated height of 30″ without a booster. Would I love to put him back into that Dakota until his seated height measured 31″? Absolutely. But he’d be really pissed at me if I did that. He’s waited a long time for this day and after all, I did make that promise.