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Child car seats: how to keep older children safe

What's the besy way to keep older children safe in your car, and when can your child stop using a car seat?

Words By Claire Evans

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Booster cushions are a popular option for older children who are big enough for a Group 3 seat, but there's strong evidence that high-backed booster seats are much safer.

"Many parents opt for a simple booster cushion to help lift their child up and ensure the vehicle's seatbelt sits correctly on the bony parts of their bodies. However, the seatbelt can often get twisted, sit too high, or be fitted around the seat rather than the child," warns Mark Bennett of Britax.

Another big concern is the shortage of protection offer by a booster cushion. "They offer no head or side impact protection, putting children at risk of severe neck injuries," adds Bennett.

Safety experts recommend that parents buy a high-backed booster seat instead of a booster cushion. You can watch a video showing the advantages of these below.

New law will ban booster cushions for most children

New legislation which came into force on 1 March, 2017 ensures that all but the tallest of children are seated in high-backed booster seats rather than on a booster cushion.

From this date, all child car seats sold for children who are less than 125cm tall or weigh less than 22kg must be high-backed booster seats; retailers are no longer be allowed to sell booster cushions without backs.

The new law doesn't affect seats bought before 1 March, so if you already own a booster cushion you can still go on using it, although you may want to switch to a high-backed booster to better protect your child.

Children aged under 12 who are between 125cm and 135cm tall can still use a booster cushion.

At what age does a child no longer need to travel in a child car seat?

By law, children should use a suitable child restraint until they are 135cm tall or 12 years old, whichever comes first. Fail to comply with this law, and you could be fined as much as Β£500.

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