Wall Street Journal is Ruffling Feathers Over their Car Seat Article

My 8 yr old niece who is not used to being in a 5-point harness. She was a good sport!

California is changing their car seat laws as of January 1, 2012 to include that children must use a car seat until 8 years old or 4-feet-9 inches tall which is up from the current requirement of 6 years or 60 lbs!  We say – HOORAY, California!!  Way to keep our kids safer!! We are glad they are making the requirement older and taller to at least encourage all those parents that think it’s okay to let our little precious children (yes, they are precious even between ages 6-8!) ride in a vehicle without a car seat.

Am I judging those parents for taking them out of a car seat too soon?  You betcha!  It’s safety, people!  And don’t even get me started on a 5-point harness until age 8.  That would be MY law!  How fitting that this article just came out today because I was just chastised last week for posting a photo of my 8 year old niece in a 5 point harness, high-weight car seat on Facebook.  Many parents said it was ridiculous and humiliating to have a child that old in a 5-point harness.  Not in MY car!  My 6 1/2 year old rides in a 5-point harness and will until AT LEAST age 8.  And you know what?  She’s okay with it.  She doesn’t know any better. She has always been in a 5 point harness in my car.  Sure, she sees her friends in boosters, nothing at all (gasp!) or even in the front seat (makes me want to throw up!) but she knows it’s safest in her car seat. She doesn’t feel humiliated. She feels smart because it is safest.

The Wall Street Journal didn’t take the same approach.  They decided to take the angle for their article that the kids are upset and putting them in car seats over the age of 6 is just cruel.  Really, Wall Street Journal?!?  You fail to state all the safety benefits for keeping a child in a car seat as long as possible but let’s dwell on the fact that a 7 year old is mad. Boo-freaking-hoo!  You know, 7 year old kids get mad over a lot.  Take away Spongebob…make them go to bed…make them do their homework…all these things can make them mad. So what?  Kids can get mad but parents should do what is in their best interest.  Car seats until they are at least 8 ARE IN THEIR BEST INTEREST!! Yep, I’m judging again! Plus, when all the 7-8 year olds hop back into car seats – they can all be mad together.

Yes, the Wall Street Journal writer stated:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children not leave a booster seat until they are 4-feet-9 inches tall—when it says kids are tall enough for seat belts to fit comfortably across lap and shoulder—or between the ages of 8 to 12. “

That is about the extent of the article getting into the safety benefits of car seats as long as possible.  Why not encourage parents to use car seats longer?  Why not tell parents that according to SafeKids.org that “Children seated in a booster seat in the rear of the car are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash as compared to those using a seat belt alone”? They left out that The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “seat belts are made for adults”.

Most kids (unless your 7 year old is the size of a 12 year old!) need that booster to raise them up so that the seat belt properly fits them to keep them safer if a crash were to occur. I’m just very disappointed that the Wall Street Journal writer decided to make car seats for older children look like humiliating, torture devices instead of encouraging parents to make the right decision and keep their kids in car seats as long as possible. (I do love that the little 6 year old in the article’s picture is in full footed pajamas yet is pouting in the car seat. Very fitting if you ask me!)

You can read the full article in the Wall Street Journal HERE.

What do you think about the article? Are we totally overreacting? Or are we spot-on with our disappointment?

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19 Comments on "Wall Street Journal is Ruffling Feathers Over their Car Seat Article"

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Just like to point out here that i’m 16, i’m studying physcology in UK secondary school (high School?) and one of my subjects essays is about car seat safety. This is a very good article and i agree with it. Perosnally I was in a 5 point harness until I was 13 1/2 on account of being 5 foot 2. I’m nly just surpassing 5 foot 4 now.


Which car seat would you recommend because I want to keep my 7 year old girl in a harness for as long as they fit, even if it is up to 12 or 13 and she said recently that she prefers her car seat harness to the booster that I (until recently) had her in. Thanks Hollie, I managed to win an argument with my wife because of this and several other journals.

I know this is an older post but hope you will respond. When my kids were young I was militant about them being in car seats, seat belts, appropriate headrests (many people don’t have them in the back of their van or in trucks etc.). Many people did not understand my insistence on these rules. However I did have a huge problem once they were too big for booster seats. The car seat makers do no make them long enough in the thigh area to accomodate kids over 5 or so (depending on child- I don’t remember their height and… Read more »
Christi Mallonee
Hollie, I dont disagree with you on child safety, but i TOTALY disagree that the government should have so much of a say in how I choose to parent. I am beyond offended as a California mom!!! You, the government, and anyone else, should not have a say in when or why i choose to allow my children to ride forward facing, in a booster, or in a regular adult seat. I was a big fan of yours, but how dare you JUDGE anyone! If that is how you would have it for you kids, then great by all means,… Read more »

Wish I could share this on Facebook. Not seeing children in their proper carseat is a pet peave of mine. Wish all parents knew how important it is to have their children properly buckled.

i think you are being a little over the top. and why 8 for a 5 point harness? thats arbitrary, and some 8 year olds are tall enough to be in a booster with the seatbelt. ideally all car seat belts maybe should have a 5 point harness. that would be safer for everyone right? and yes if a child is not big enough to wear a seat belt correctly then they should be in a booster or harness. but im certainly not going to make my kids wear a 5 point harness when they are 8 IF they are… Read more »
Hmm…I agree that keeping kids in car seats as long as possible is the safest thing to do. I think its great that safety organizations and things like the AAP promote that view and do their best to inform the public. I do not think the government should make it a law…we are supposed to be a free country! Where will they stop? Of course, ALL kids at ANY age would be safest in a five point harness! Heck, why don’t parents harness up too? Why don’t we all just quit riding in cars? People don’t think of the consequences… Read more »
Okay I just have to say this- you say “MY car, MY rules” thats fine- BUT guess what- “its MY car, MY rules” And I think that its pathetic that EVERYTHING has to be changed to LAW because someone else thinks its better. Thats just fine that people want to keep their kids in car seats until they are rather large- but I think that a parent should be able to decide what they think is best instead of being dictated by others and telling everyone else what they HAVE to do! I am all for seat belts and keeping… Read more »
Lydia F
So Ms. Schultz,if it’s commendable to put your eight year olds in a five point harness for their safety, perhaps it’s commendable to do so to your ten year olds too . . . and anyone under 5’4″. Sorry petite adults, you now have to ride in a car seat! 😛 Just * think * of all the horrible parents who neglected to put their children in any kind of car seat 55 years ago. Oh wait. Cars didn’t even have SEAT BELTS 55 years ago. And those parents loved their kids just as much as we love our kids… Read more »
Deanna Spangler

While I agree keeping children in safety seats longer is a good idea, the Wall Street Journal story isn’t coming down on the issue one way or the other. It’s not an editorial column, it’s simply a news story about the difficulty some parents are now having in getting their children back into safety seats when they haven’t had to use one for some time. News stories present various sides and aspects about an issue and should never be one-sided. I see no sign of opinion being given by this reporter regarding the California law.

Bayla Lax-Blumstein
Hi Hollie I would love to see a post on what to do about winter coats and car rides. Everything I’ve ever seen on the topic just says something like “don’t put a child in a car seat while wearing a winter coat because it interferes with the harness” along with all sorts of suggestions for how to keep the child warm in the car (fleece blankets etc) but I’ve yet to come across a practical suggestion that deals with the fact that the kids DO need to be bundled up when going to and from the car and if… Read more »
I am with you all the way on this Hollie. My boys are all in 5 point harnesses – yes the 5 year old does NOT have a booster like his friends. he has a car seat. You know what – last year he went to camp (age 4 for 1/2 days) and the bus came to pick him up. he was DELIGHTED to see his car seat in the school bus safely installed for him to hop into. He was the only kid in a Boulevard BUT he’s my boy and didn’t give a monkey’s about anyone else. Do… Read more »
Rosemarie M. Buchanan
Rosemarie M. Buchanan

Your comments are right on! First of all, I hate it when the tail wags the dog (aka kids tell the parents what they will and won’t do), and secondly, you’d really think the WSJ would promote this because, after all, aren’t all those car seat manufacturers going to make another sh*tload of money producing and selling the bigger carseats! Hell’s bells, it’s a win-win!

Thank you! I have a 16-month-old and I have people chastising me because she’s still rear-facing! Seriously?! I actually had someone tell me they’d turned their boys (twins) around at 12 months because it was too hard to keep putting them in the rear-facing seat. Know what?! I hate it too. Huge pain in the butt. Know what else? She’s going to stay that way until she reaches not age two, but the maximum for our Britax Advocate, and it’s one of the higher height/weight ratios I’ve found. I just think that getting over my child’s death because of my… Read more »

You couldn’t sound more condescending if you tried. You make me feel sorry for your children. That child looks so thrilled to still be in a 5 point harness. Are they even rated for that size? Maybe you should learn how to get your point across without sounding like a total bitch.