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Backless Booster seats: Everything you need to know about the new car seat laws

Section: Car Seats
Car seat

From March 2017, manufactures in the UK will not be allowed to sell backless booster seats for smaller children. But what does this mean for you and your toddler? Is your backless booster now unsafe? Here’s everything you need to know about the new car seat laws.


Are backless boosters now illegal?

At the moment, backless booster seats are sold for children weighing more than 15kg (2 stone 5 pounds). If you already have a backless booster seat, as long as it meets the compulsory R44 regulations and your child is heavier than 15kg, you can still legally use it. That said, the new regulations have been brought into place after warnings from the United Nations stating backless boosters are not safe for smaller children, so your child will be safer in a high backed booster until they reach 22kg (3 stone 6.5 pounds). On average, this is around age five to six.


Will backless boosters still be sold?

Manufactures will no longer be able to sell a seat if it does not meet these revised safety standards. The new rules mean children using new seats will have to weigh more than 22kg and be taller than 125cm, so you will no longer be able to buy a backless booster for your child if they are smaller than this.


Why are booster seats no longer deemed safe?

For years’ experts have debated the safety of the backless booster, yet these changes have come about after the UN warned seats without backs will not protect smaller children from side on-collisions.


Car seat expert Kevin Macliver has worked in test centres all over the world and told Mother and Baby: ‘From years of testing we know that children aged between four and twelve do not get the best support from a booster cushion and instead recommend parents opt for a high back booster with head supports for side impact protection instead.’


If I continue to use my backless booster, how do I ensure my child is still safe?

If you don’t want to buy a new car-seat, or drive a smaller car and use a booster seat for convenience, it is crucial you make sure both seat and seat belt are properly fitted each time you pull off. In recent research conducted by car seat manufacturer Britax, results showed approximately half of seat belts used to secure child seats may be fitted incorrectly. If the seat belt is twisted, too high, or fitted around the seat and not the child, it will be ineffective in the event of an incident.


Will backless boosters be banned all together?

The BPA (Baby Products Association) have confirmed they have no plans to completely ban backless boosters from the market. Instead, we can expect to see manufacturers designing new products that will meet the safety regulations. After March, you may also be asked to confirm your baby’s weight and height when buying a car seat.


At what age can I stop putting my child in a car seat?

Although it may not be deemed ‘cool’, your child should remain in a car seat until they are 12 years old, or reach 135cm in height. This is because the bones in children’s hips aren’t fully developed until they are 12-13 years of age, meaning the seat belt will sit across their stomachs instead of staying low on their hips. In the event of a crash, this can cause injuries to a child’s abdominal organs.

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