“Does your son still use a car seat?,” I asked her as I worked to set up some car pooling with another parent for Zacharie’s soccer season.

It was a default question. Many kids in Grade 3 and 4 are well beyond their car seat days, and while it’s not required in our jurisdiction, I still have my boys in booster seats in the back.

“No, no he doesn’t,” she replied. I was almost embarrassed to have asked.

And then I wondered if it was time to remove at least one of the boosters in my back seat. Zacharie is 9 and a half. He’s rapidly approaching my wife’s shoulders. I looked up our local regulations.

Currently in Alberta, there is no law requiring the use of booster seats among children who have outgrown their forward-facing child safety seats and are over 40 lbs (18kg) or over 6 years old.

The Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services recognizes booster seats as the safest choice for children under 9 years old, who have outgrown their forward-facing child safety seat, and weigh between 40 lbs (18 kg) and 80 lbs (36 kg) or are less than 4’9” (145 cm) tall. [AHS]

Zacharie is tall for his age at 4’7″, but he’s also slight, weighing just 68 lbs.

The booster seat serves to sit him higher in the seat, allowing the shoulder strap to sit more across his shoulder blade instead of higher up on his neck. While he’s over the recommended age limit, his size still fits within the recommended ranges, so for a little while, anyway, he’ll stay in the booster.

It’s the smart decision.

And then I started to think about all the car seat adventures we have had since becoming parents in the spring of 2007. A lot of them involving passed out bunnies after days filled with adventures.

car seat montage

It’s the first day with that car seat I remember most.

I was fumbling with the installation of that original car seat as I scrambled to the hospital to pick up my wife and son. I had heard that you could visit a fire hall to get the seat properly installed, and there was one across the street from the hospital.

When we pulled in, the firefighters seemed just as confused as we were. We worked together as best we could to get it installed, but I’m not sure we ever did get it right. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, when used correctly, child seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% and risk of serious injury by 67%.

That’s great, except as many as 81% of car seats are not installed properly. If that seat is not in correctly, it won’t provide the best protection for your precious cargo.

Did you know you’re not supposed to have your kids wearing bulky winter jackets and snow suits in their car seats? (Back in the day I didn’t, and I was guilty of this winter car seat mistake)

car seat winter

A little conversation about car pooling with kids had me digging in to car seat rules and recommendations, and I hope this post does the same for you.

Do me a favour? Spend some time making sure you get your car seat in properly.

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