When I first came to work for Uber Kids, I knew very little about nursery equipment, despite being a dad. Actually, I now realise that I know more than I thought I did, but when it comes to car seats, I genuinely didn’t have a clue. I don’t drive, so it hadn’t really occurred to me to give it that much thought; I simply didn’t need to.
My father in law drives, so anytime we need to go anywhere that’s more than walking distance away, he’s happy to help us out. My wife had bought a cheap infant carrier when my little one was a newborn and an even cheaper ‘bigger’ car seat when she had outgrown that carrier. Back in those days I hadn’t even heard about car seat groupings, I just assumed children stayed in a seat until they got too big for it, and then the parents would buy a bigger one. How was I supposed to know it would be more complicated?!
Thankfully, I now know a lot more about car seats, and while I’m not going to walk through and simplify the whole range for you in this blog, I would like to offer my advice on high back booster seats. In the trade, we refer to them as Group 2/3 seats, but you might think of them as those seats that your child goes in between 4 years and 12 years old.
There always seems to be a bit of confusion about booster seats, people are unsure about how old your child needs to be before they can come out of them. The law says that they need to be in a booster seat until they are 12 years old, or 135cm tall, whichever comes first. The idea is simple enough, the booster raises your child up off the vehicles seat and lets the vehicles seat belt do all the work, in the same way that it would for me or you.
Many people tend to opt for a classic ‘booster cushion’ type seat, basically, just a small block of plastic that your child can sit on in the car. That’s great, and they do work. There are some very nice and comfortable ones on the market (for example, check out the Plush Tush range on our website, wow!) but the problem with any booster cushion is that firstly, in the event of an impact, your little one will be subject to the same forces as you have to cope with. Their little bodies are still growing, and they are likely be more injured than you.
Secondly, it’s REALLY easy to forget about a booster cushion when your child isn’t sitting on it. So, if you happen to be driving with it loose in the back, and either get into an accident or have to stop suddenly, the solid cushion is going to come flying forward with force and you or your passengers could get seriously injured.
The other type of Group 2/3 car seat available is the High-Backed Booster (HBB). This is essentially the same idea, the seat raises your little one up, the seat-belt does the work. The fundamental difference is the backrest, and usually the head and shoulder protection. With this, your child has a FAR better chance of escaping serious injury during a collision.
Many HBB’s even offer Side Impact Protection in various guises, which disperse the force of an impact through the seat itself so the seat gets damaged rather than your child. There are also HBB’s with chest padding, crotch padding, extra head and shoulder support and other ingenious things to help keep your child safe as well as comfortable (particularly useful for long journeys). The main problem with this type of seat is: I didn’t have one.
The more I learned, the more I worried. And the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t let my little girl be at risk on a cheap booster cushion car seat anymore. I kept thinking to myself ‘for a little more money I can give her a much better chance of escaping injury if she is ever involved in a crash’. There was only one thing to do. Upgrade. I studied. I price checked. I found the ideal seat. The one that would keep her the safest possible on my budget.
The only thing left to do was to bring my little girl into the showroom and get her to try the seat. It was all arranged. One day, after school, she came in with her Grandad and Mum to Uber Kids. I had the seat all prepared on our rig seat, I knew EXACTLY how to fit it in Grandad’s vehicle too. I was ready for her to love it as much as I did, I mean, anything had to be better than that old, hard booster cushion, right?
One thing that I wasn’t prepared for: She didn’t like it. Too plain, she said. I was a bit crestfallen. All my planning and she ONLY wanted to try the ones with pretty patterns. But you know, the more I think about it, maybe that’s for the best. She is old enough to know what she likes. She is the one that must sit in it for the next 8 years, and I think it was right to give her the choice. Now, every time she gets into the car it won’t be a struggle to get her into the booster, because it’s hers. And the one she chose, even though it WAS a bit more expensive, was just as safe and comfortable. Luckily, we have a large range in store and many more on our website, so there is something for everyone.
So, if your child is old enough for their new HBB my advice is to do what I did, have a look, see what you can afford, and make sure you get your child’s input, because as a parent, whatever we choose is probably not going to be right anyway!