Trying to decide how long your kids should stay in their car seats can actually be something of a fraught decision. When they're still babies and don't yet have to deal with their friends' opinions, it's easy. But as they get older, it can be a sticky topic. As one mom's photo of her 7-year-old son in a car seat recently shared on Facebook noted, trying to balance your child's safety with the potential for ridicule is not easy, but safety always comes first.
Australian mom Louise Thomsen took to her Facebook page Paging Fun Mums on Jan. 17 to share a photo of her son sleeping in his car seat. Thomsen shared that some of his classmates have been hassling him about the fact that he's still being driven around in a "baby seat," which of course is never something a parent wants their child to go through. But, as Thomsen explained, "No parent wants their child to experience ridicule BUT the statistics speak for themselves regarding children & approved car seats...especially when they fall asleep in their seats."
"Take all the factors into consideration when making these choices," she wrote. "Don’t just follow the trend, follow the safest option to protect your family." In an update to her post, Thomsen also shared that her son is about to be moved on to a booster seat as "he has past the height ‘requirements’ for this particular seat a long time ago (as per our government regulation) but it still fits as per their (seat/harness) safety guidelines."
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its recommendations for car seats in 2018, with the organization focusing more on height and weight limits over age restrictions when considering a child move to the next level of seat in a vehicle. For instance, rear-facing car seats are recommended for children up to 40 pounds and forward-facing car seats with a harness are recommended for children up to 65 pounds, even higher if the car seat manufacturer allows for it. The AAP essentially recommends keeping children in car seats as long as their weight and height fall within the manufacturer's limits, and it makes sense. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a properly installed car seat reduces the potential for an injury during a car accident in children by 71% to 82% in comparison to keeping them in a seat belt.
Thomsen's post about her 7-year-old son in his car seat resonated with other parents, many of whom shared their own decisions to keep their child in a car seat. "My nearly 7 year old is still in a baby seat," one parent shared. "About a year ago he and I were in a pretty nasty accident (we were t-boned) and I saw how secure he was in that seat. That helped make up my mind that it's the right option for us."
Being picked on is never OK, of course, and Thomsen made it clear that she's unhappy about the fact that her son is being teased for being in a "baby seat." But perhaps if more children were in the same kind of seat, they wouldn't be so quick to point fingers.