Strict new rules on the use of car seats are coming into force, limiting the use of backless booster seats for older children. A backless booster seat, also known as a booster cushion, currently satisfies the legal car seats law requirement for children up to 135cm tall or 12 years old or whichever comes first. At the moment children weighing as little as 15kg (2st 4lbs) - that's around three years old - can travel in backless booster seats.
This compares to some European countries including France and Germany where the height limit is 150cm.
‘Under the new rules backless booster seats will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg (3st 6.5lbs).’
Under the new rules backless booster seats - also known as booster cushions - will only be approved for use for children taller than 125cm and weighing more than 22kg (3st 6.5lbs).
But many child car seat experts agree that this type of booster seat is unsuitable for such young children. A small child is not held as securely in the seat. The adult seat belt is not guided across their little body in the best way, and, most importantly, a booster seat offers no protection for a child if the car is involved in a side-impact crash.
High-backed child car seats might be more expensive, but have been found to be safer.
Child car seat expert, Lisa Galliers, says "A decent high-backed booster seat provides better protection in a front crash, as they're designed to guide the adult seat-belt across the child's body properly, and our crash tests prove they offer much more protection in a side-impact crash that a backless booster seat alone."
But safety experts recommend you use a child car seat for all children under 150cm (4ft 11in). For children weighing more than 36kg (5st 10lb) but under 150cm (4ft 11in) it is advised to go by height.
The new regulations should come into effect in December 2016 but will only apply to any new products on the market. So parents looking to buy a booster seat next year should start to see that they're not approved for use with children under 125cm and 22kg. Parents who have a booster seat now will still be able to use the seat without breaking any rules. But in future, parents could face a fine of 500 pounds for not adhering to the rules.