A new law on backless booster car seats has come into force. The regulation stops manufacturers creating new models of booster cushions for children shorter than 125cm tall or weighing less than 22kg.
When a company now makes a new backless booster seat, it will have to be for children over 125cm tall or heavier than 22kg, whichever comes first. But it’s important to note that this rule only applies to brand new products entering the market. It does not affect any booster seats that you may currently be using.
How old does my child now need to be to use a backless booster?
There’s no exact age as suitability is measured by the height or weight of your child. But to give you an idea of age, 125cm tall is approximately the size of an 8-year-old child – although of course children vary hugely.
Will I be fined for using a booster cushion?
No. If you have a backless booster seat that you owned before the law changed, it is still legal. The only time you may be fined is if your child is not the correct weight or height for that seat – so for example they are 14kg and using a booster seat, which has a minimum weight of 15kg stated on it.
Police rarely fine a parent for using the incorrect car seat, as they are there to inspect and help parents travel the safest way with their children.
Does that mean backless booster seats will soon be illegal?
No, it just means that new models of backless booster seats will only be suitable for children taller than 125cm or weighing more than 22kg. The Department of Transport Government website confirms that the new rules don’t affect current models of backless boosters and booster seats.
The aim of the new regulations is to start a behaviour change – to encourage parents who want to use backless boosters, to only do so for their older children.
The changes will happen slowly as new models come on to the market and parents decide to follow the new guidelines when they buy a booster seat. The new regulation follows evidence that high-backed boosters offer more protection for children aged between around 4 and 7 than backless ones.
The reason the law makers say they won’t ban booster cushions is because some parents need them, particularly if they have small cars and they believe that it’s better for parents to have a backless booster than no child seat at all. Backless boosters are the simplest and cheapest car seats. They’re basically bottom seats that raise the height of your child. This helps the seat belt give better protection in the event of a crash, but there’s no side or head protection.
How will this new booster seat law actually affect me?
If you’re purchasing a new booster cushion from March you may be asked to confirm your child’s weight and height, so best to measure your child before going to the store. New products will also be labelled with weight and height restrictions.
If this is based on evidence and safety, should I stop using my backless booster?
The evidence shows high-backed Group 2/3 booster car seats offer a higher level of protection compared to booster cushions. At Vivre Le Rêve, we would therefore recommend using high-backed car seats up to the height of 135cm. However, we also believe that parents have the right to choose which products to use, as long as they are safe. Backless booster seats are still certified to be safe, legal and available to buy (for children over a certain weight and height). If your child does have a backless booster, it’s crucial that you make sure both the seat and seat belt are properly fitted each time you drive.