How do I know if my child's booster seat fits properly?
With a belt positioning booster seat, the shoulder belt should fit flat on the collar bone and the lap belt should fit snugly across the thighs, says Walker. (For recommendations specific to your child's age and weight, consult the online safety guide at SAFEKIDS.org.)
You can also have your seat checked by a certified technician at a local inspection station. To locate an inspection station visit www.seatcheck.org or www.nhtsa.dot.gov and click on "Child Seat Inspection Station Locator." SAFE KIDS is the official training and certification agency for car seat technicians. To find the nearest SAFE KIDS Buckle Up Checkup, go the SAFE KIDS homepage and click on "Find Coalitions and Events Near You."
My six-year-old has been out of a car seat for two years, but now the law in our state requires him to be in a booster seat. How do I make the move back into a seat easier?
"Sometimes, with older kids the issue is they don't want their friends to see them sitting on a booster seat," says Walker. "If you have head restraint, and your child is not right out of the car seat, but a little bit older, the backless booster is an option. They climb in and they put the seatbelt on. It adjusts to fit them, but they have head restraint."
My four-year old refuses to ride in a booster seat. What should I do?
"It's your job to help her understand that this is not negotiable," says Walker. "If he wants to stick a fork in the electric socket, are you going to let him just because he wants to? A booster or a car seat is like an immunization. It's up to the parents to say, 'Look I know you don't want to have a needle to protect you from diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, but it's my job as your parent to make sure that you're safe.' And it's the same thing with a car seat or a booster seat or a seat belt. Kids will cry for a second, and then they get over it."
My child frequently rides with a parent of a friend who does not use booster seats. I insist that my child rides in a booster while in their car, and it causes friction. How do convince this parent to support me?
"If you're carpooling, make a pact and don't compromise," advises Walker. "If you've got three kids, then all three kids are going to ride in a booster seat."
Parents joining together to establish behavior works for older as well as younger children, suggests Walker. Establishing ground rules at a young age will pave the way for negotiating larger battles later on. "When your child becomes 11 and wants a curfew time, if all of the parents have a 10:30 pm curfew time, then it's not so hard on a child. And when a child becomes 15, the rules for how we ride in a car driven by a teenage driver are going to be established. When all of the parents get together and say the same thing, it's very helpful."