Booster Seats Are For Big Kids!

Kelsie booster seat safety

This post was sponsored by The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

The next time you find yourself at an elementary school at the end of the school day, I encourage you to glance around at the younger children and the vehicles they are going home in. Although Michigan law requires that children under age 8 use a car seat or booster seat, there are a lot of children in that age range who you’ll find riding with a vehicle seat belt alone. I worked in a preschool for kids ages 3 to 5 in 2009 and we did a vehicle safety month where we talked to parents about their use of car seats or booster seats. We brought in a growth chart that highlighted the 4’9″ mark on the chart. None of our preschoolers were anywhere close to that tall! Yet, many of them were not in booster seats or car seats. It was interesting to watch these conversations with parents unfold. Common sentiments were “When I was a kid, you only used a car for the first couple of years, for babies or toddlers.” or “She feels more grown up when she can sit in the vehicle seat alone. She thinks booster seats are for babies.” I thought this was very interesting because booster seats are not for babies or even toddlers – they are for big kids! Of course, children should be riding in booster seats even if they dislike the idea as safety is #1. However, I think it would help out a lot if we could start seeing booster seats as something for big kids, and not something for babies because that just is not true. Of course kids are always eager to grow up, so if we paint booster seats as something for babies, or even for little kids – that makes them seem negative. Booster seats are not for babies, they aren’t embarrassing, there really is nothing negative about them. I’d love for kids to get that message by way of adults changing the way that we talk about booster seats.

The purpose of booster seats to make it so that the vehicle seat belt lays across the child at the appropriate places. If small children are placed in an adult seatbelt alone, the seat belt will often go across their neck and their abdomen which is not ideal placement. Booster seats raise children into a position so that the seatbelt should fall across their upper thighs instead of their abdomen (which is safer due to not being near internal organs) and so that the shoulder portion of the belt will lay across their shoulder instead of their neck. In the event of a collision or simply slamming on the brakes, having the shoulder strap over the shoulder is safer than it being across the neck.

Kelsie 5 years old

I’ve found that many parents know that under 4’9″ or under age 8 are supposed to be in a booster seat, though they may not understand why booster seats are safer than an adult seat belt alone. I am excited to partner with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety to bring you some important facts about children’s safety.

If your child is under 4’9″ tall, they are not tall enough to ride in a vehicle without a booster seat. Adult seat belts are designed for those 4’9″ and taller. Of course, all children grow at different rates but 4’9″ is quite tall! Many children will not reach 4’9″ until they are 8 to 12 years old.

Kelsie age 5

Kelsie is 5 and recently started kindergarten. She is already getting four of her adult teeth which really surprises me when she isn’t even 5.5 yet! She learned how to ride a bike without training wheels over the summer. She dresses herself and has strong feelings about her unique fashion choices. It just feels like she’s really leaving the ‘little kid’ phase behind and is just a kid now. She has recently realized that she is getting taller and she likes to go around to shorter adults and put her hand on their shoulder. “I can reach your shoulder! I’m almost as tall as you!” she says. Of course, she isn’t even close to being as tall as me, and I am only 5’1″! According to her yearly check-ups, she is at or a bit below the 50th percentile most of the time, so she is average to small for her age. She feels big because she can touch my shoulder, though. She has many years of booster use left before she will be tall enough to use an adult seat belt alone. She may seem less and less like a little kid to me, but even big kids need booster seats!

Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children ages 4-8 years when compared to using a seat belt alone. For older children an adults, using a seat belt reduces the risk for death and injury by about half. Meaning, using a booster seat for 4 to 8 year olds is roughly as important as using a seat belt for adults!

Sadly, Michigan children ages 4-7 have a low rate of booster seat use, at just 49.7% use. Research suggests that parents underestimate the risk and/or are unfamiliar with or confused about the best practices for child passenger safety. Visit the Child Passenger Safety page of the Michigan State Police website to learn more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about child passenger safety and booster seats! Do your kids use booster seats and how old are they?


Hi there! I am Emily Evert, the owner of Emily Reviews. I am 25 and live in a small town in Michigan with my boyfriend Ryan and our two pugs. I have a large family and I adore my nieces and nephews. I am a calorie counter who loves soda. I budget to save money so I can spend it on my dogs. I love reading memoirs, and learning about child development and psychology. I love watching The Game of Thrones, Teen Mom, Sister Wives and Veep. I like listening to Jason Isbell, John Prine, Kris Kristofferson and Blue October. I created Emily Reviews as a creative outlet to share my life and the products that I love with others.

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This post currently has 3 responses.

  • Peggy Nunn

    My granddaughter use booster seats and one is 9. She says she can see outside the car better. That is a good excuse for all parents to keep them in the booster seats.

  • Sarah L

    I didn’t know about the height requirements, but they make a lot of sense. I don’t have kids so I didn’t know about this.

  • ellen beck

    Here in Iowa, the height requirement is the same. Kids often ‘fight’ a booster seat once the are prrteens if under 4’9″ but it is necessary. Car accidents are one of the number one reasons kids die :/ I think boosters are important for sure!

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