Safe in the Seat

Car Seat Grads: How Soon is Too Soon?

It’s that time of year again, when Father’s Day and school graduations and (lots & lots of) traffic all seem to join together to give us the big middle finger. Don’t get me wrong—I get as teary-eyed as the next parent looking at the start of school year versus end of school year chalkboard pictures.  I can’t help but think how big my kids are getting and that I wish time would slow down. It’s only natural that with all this growing and graduating that I should also move my kiddo to the next stage of car seat safety. Right?

Whoaaaaaaaaa, mama. Hold the brakes. 

Unless your child is physically, mentally and emotionally prepared for the next car seat stage, they are not ready for graduation.   

This is one of the biggest misuses I see in the world of car seat safety; moving our kids to the next stage too soon.  From rear-facing to an adult seat belt, here’s the biggest rule to keep in mind pre-stage-graduation: 

Children are meant to stay in each car seat stage for as long as possible. It starts with rear-facing (have they outgrown the limits of their convertible seat?), but it doesn’t stop there. When your littles are in a forward-facing seat harnessed seat, they’re meant to stay in that for as long as possible, too. Think your harnessed kids are ready for a booster? Can you sit properly for 100% of the ride (‘cause I still struggle with this!)?  Booster riders ready for an adult seat belt? Have they passed the five step test? Are you ready for the hard truth? 

The higher the stage, the more dangerous. Let that sink in.  

Get your kid a new backpack.  Let them have their first sleepover.  Give them a little extra screen time.   Celebrate summer and the end of another school year with a trip to a water park.  Don’t celebrate it with a trip to Target to buy a seat they are not yet ready to be in.  

Bottom line: There are lots of milestones to celebrate.  Car seat stage graduation is not one of them.  You spend a lot of money of car seats—use them until your child reaches that seat’s stated age, height and/or weight limit.  

Sorry kids, mama is taking the wheel on this one.  

Make sure you are following @Safeintheseat on Instagram and Facebook! And download checklist for how to know when to graduate from one stage to the next here!