6 Year Old in a 5 Point Harness: Why I Still Use ‘Baby Seats’
A friend and I were talking about car seats the other day. She noticed that all three of my children are in five point harnesses, including my 6-year-old first grader. I half-jokingly will tell people that I’ll keep them in their seats until they get their learner’s permits.
In contrast, a neighbor of mine – who is also a police officer – regularly drives down our street with his 5 year old unrestrained (and usually standing up) in the back seat. My heart sinks each time I see it, and I wonder how someone who must have seen a car accident or two can operate a car without protecting his child.
I found it pretty interesting to see a map outlining the laws regarding car seat usage in the various states. Sadly, my own state (Florida) is the most lax with their rulings, requiring that children 3 years or under are in restraints. (Hear that, neighbor?) Tennessee and Wyoming are at the opposite end of the spectrum, requiring child restraints for all children 8 years and younger.
I understand that I walk the conservative side of the line on this one. Driving for field trips has been interesting, as the other kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class were horrified by our seats. Their instantaneous reaction to entering our car was usually, “I’m not riding in a baby seat! Where are the real seats?” I’m not entirely opposed to the “big kid” seats. She has a booster in her daddy’s truck, but I’m not comfortable with it for everyday use. She just passed the 40 lb mark needed for using the booster, so I prefer the five point harness for my little big girl.
I know my choices are colored by my experience. My brother died in a car accident. It took over a year after that day to get past the terror I felt each time I got behind the wheel with my kids in the backseat. I am very aware that my own feelings about car seats are influenced by that experience. But I can also look to the facts. According to the CDC, “Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States.”
What about you? How long do you plan to use a five point harness? Will you go beyond the requirements for your state?
Check out the links below for more information on car seat safety.