Toddler Unbuckling Herself from Booster Seat

Updated on June 09, 2008
J.K. asks from Bellingham, WA
25 answers

Hi,

My 2 year old (36" tall, 39 pounds) is in a booster seat now and has been for a couple of months. Our seat belts are the kind which you press on the top and it unbuckles. She figured it out the other day and unbuckled herself. Thankfully we noticed right away. Then the next day, she reached over and unbuckled her four year old sister (same size as her - also in a booster seat). My four year old started crying cause she knows that is NOT okay to be unbuckled and we pulled over and fixed it.

My question is, does anyone know of anything we can put over the seatbelt to make it "childproof" from being opened? I'm worried about the safety issue.

Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks again to all who responded. I found out that there is a special device designed to lock the seat belts - designed for the needs of special needs kids. Another mom suggested a baby store.

To those who didn't understand - my two year old daughter is slightly taller than her 5 year old cousin. I've researched the appropriate seat with authorities here in the state of Washington and they advised the booster seat. My daughter is cognitively, behaviorly, and language impaired (including receptively) which makes traditional means hard. But we are and will try some methods to make her understand. One lady suggested a rewards system that may make an impact and I will definitely try that: with the seat belt lock in place!

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M.M.

answers from Portland on

J.-
I hope I caught you before you bought something. Please go to www.mypreciouskid.com ASAP. It is a website (run locally) which sales child safety products and some baby gear.
Scroll down to the bottom and click on the link to the Angel Buckle Guard. This product was designed specifically for children who unbuckle their seatbelts.
You can order the product online through this site or even better, you can stop by the recently opened My Precious Kid 'store' on the corner of Baseline and 5th street in downtown Hillsboro.
The lady who owns the store has an amazing wealth of knowledge on many safety related items and is more than willing to advise you on what her own experiences. She has raised 4 kids of her own and tests most of the products she sells, herself.
Please let me know if you have any questions!!!
Thanks,
M.
[email protected]____.com

2 moms found this helpful

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A.M.

answers from Seattle on

At 2 years old, your child still needs to be in a seat with a 5 point harness. Booster seats with seatbelt are for children 4 years AND 40lbs if they are mature enough to sit appropriately for the entire ride. Your 2 year old is telling you he is nowhere near mature enough nor old enough to sit in a booster.

Forward facing harnessed seats are outgrown when a child reaches the weight limit, or more commonly when the child's shoulders are above the top harness slots.

If the child is 4 years AND 40lbs, then he may move to a booster with vehicle lap shoulder belt seatbelt. If not, then the child needs a larger FF harnessed seat. There are many seats that harness to 55-80lbs. Some are the Britax Marathon, Decathalon, Boulevard, Frontier and Regent; the Sunshine Kids Radian; the Evenflo Triumph ADVANCE; the Graco Nautilus and the Cosco/Safety First Apex.

The Alpha Omega 3-in-1 seats only harness to 40lbs and most 40lb weight limit seats are outgrown before a child is mature enough for a booster seat. They also have very low top harness slots, so are outgrown by height at around 2 or 3 years old.

A child should ride in a booster with vehicle lap/shoulder belt until he or she reaches approximately 4'9" (around age 12) and then can move to just the adult seatbelt if he passes the 5 step test and the seatbelt fits him correctly.

http://car-seat.org

Importance of harnessed seats
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azgBhZfcqaQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2LFo8vVi04&feature=re...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2kO8AxKbrM&feature=re...

5 step test
http://people.delphiforums.com/SKATERBABS/5steptest.html

4 moms found this helpful
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I.J.

answers from Seattle on

I will address the unbuckling first. I have raised 4 children of my own, two in foster care(one we adopted at 16) to adulthood and now am continuing with foster care. Children will listen, even at 2 1/2, and even if they are DD, if you talk to them about safety and how much you love each of them and emphasize wanting them to be very safe. Let them each know that it's okay to tell Mom or Dad if one of them accidentally opens the seat belt because you want them to be very safe. Then complement them for the next few weeks each time they leave the belts fastened. If the younger one continues to unfasten either of them, make sure you have a treat(or reward) ready for the child that lets you know that it has happened, or for the child that doesn't unfasten them. Try throwing in a reward occassionally for the child or children that are successful at being safe.

Next, adopting from the foster system. You sound like you would be good parents for this but wait until your children are a little older and definitely until you are through school. Even the best of children coming into the foster car system will have problems, remember, they come from a home where parents cared about something more than their children when it came to getting them back. They need a lot of extra time and may never get past what has happened to them. My advice is to never take children less than 3 years younger than your youngest birth child; such as, when your youngest is 5 years old, take in two year olds or younger. Know that you may have your heart broken, but if you don't hurt that much, you haven't done the job it takes to raise them the way all children have the right to be raised. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful
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R.G.

answers from Seattle on

There are indeed such devices. My daughter is on the Autistic spectrum and does the same thing a lot (my daughter is 7). I found the seat belt locks on a special needs website, but they may sell them elsewhere as well. You can probably google it. Sorry I don't recall the specific website where I found them right now.

PS - I'm sure your little one is just being a two-year-old; I just happened to be looking on special-needs safety sights because my girl has special needs.

2 moms found this helpful
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H.B.

answers from Seattle on

It sounds like she needs to be put back in her car seat. She isn't old enough to understand that she needs to be in her car seat. I can understand, that she is physically big enough to be in a booster, however, mentally-she isn't, and truely that is the bottom line.

When my son was 6-7 months old, he was in his infant seat, and he would twist himself around and then climb forward, still buckled in his car seat. He was on oxygen, so I wasn't able to "buckle" him in his infant seat as tightly as most babies (but enough to where he was safe). After pulling over and putting him back in his seat 6 times in less than a 5 mile period, I ended up at the store and purchased a 5-80 pound carseat. I was able to tilt it so it was forward facing, it has a 5 Point Harness system, and the straps were adjustable, so I could move them as he grew, and then, when he hit his 40 pound mark, I was able to remove the straps and it was made for a seat belt to go across him. Because he is small for his size, he just hit his 40 pound mark in January, at 6 years old, and the 5 point harness system was still working, and it wasn't too small for him, and he probably had 10 more pounds or so to go, but I felt it was time, and he was ready. The car seat was an investment, and 6 years or so later, we still have the carseat.

We bought a Cosco Alpha Omega carseat. It was $120.00 6 years ago, and it's about $150.00 or so now. It was well worth the investment.

2 moms found this helpful
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E.F.

answers from Portland on

J.,
I am a car seat safety technician (one of the people who work car seat clinics). Your little one is well within the limits for most convertible car seats and she is seriously at risk if she is riding in a booster seat so young and so small. In addition, the seat belt devices that can "lock" the belt also can lead to improper function of the belt and can impair the efforts of anyone trying to get her out of the car in an emergency situation. I would strongly urge you to get convertible seats for BOTH girls; there are several on the market that my 9 year old can still fit into, and it is SO much safer!! It is also illegal to put a child in a booster under 40 lbs. Some seats she WILL fit into include the Britax Marathon, the Safety 1st Apex, the Britax Regent (harness to about 48 inches in height and 80 lbs), the Sunshine Kids Radian 65 or 80.... there are more, but those will give you an idea of what is out there. See the website for the Kyle David Miller foundation for one family's story of a child who was in a booster seat too young..... I do not mean to be harsh or critical, but this is literally a decision that your children's lives may depend on.
Please feel free to contact me if you need any sort of help with the carseat issue!!!
E.

2 moms found this helpful
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J.R.

answers from Seattle on

I don't know of anything like that - but am curious to know why you graduated her from the car seat. She may have hit the acceptable weight and height requirements (and is very clever), but clearly does not have the ability to understand that she needs to stay buckled in the car - I would recommend putting her back in a car seat.

2 moms found this helpful
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M.S.

answers from Seattle on

I'm not sure why she isn't in a convertible car seat, I know they make them (with the 5-point harness set-up) even for bigger children. I wouldn't have her in a booster. However, if you insist on keeping her in one:
Tell her what you're going to do and remind her of the safety issues and the consequences of her behavior, then plan something really fun like the park, library, friends house and when she unbuckles on your way there, turn around and go back home. If there's not someone to watch her, tell her she's wrecked the outing for all of you. If there is someone to watch her, leave her and take the four year old. Yes, the older child will be upset and sadly, that is part of the consequence. Then the next time, plan something fun when you know your husband or someone else will be available to watch the younger one-even something short and simple like the post office or out for ice cream.
She will get the message, and talk to her all the while about the safety issues involved. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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S.W.

answers from Seattle on

Your 2 yr old should not be in a booster seat. The law states they need to be at least four years old and 40 lbs. No 2 yr old should be in booster. Many car seats are made for over 40 lbs. My son is 4 yrs old and 40 lbs and he will remain in a five point harness car seat for a few more years. I know you already said you were getting harsh statements but sorry... did you know you could get a ticket for not having your 2 yr old in a five point harness car seat? As far as Im concerned, it is a safety issue and my childs safety comes first.

1 mom found this helpful
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D.M.

answers from Anchorage on

The five point is correct, however, My kids went through an open everything phase. Drive with the radio off so you can listen for the click. Keep the 2 Yo in the middle of the back seat and have a small mirror to watch her with a clear "NO"-This takes some time and alot of pulling over. Arange the 4yo so the seatbelt is on the oposite side of the 2yo. Moving to a 5point will allow you to tighten the other belt so you little (or not so little) one cannot find the button. If nesassary you can manover around so the seat is about ontop of the buckle and near impossible to unhook ,even for you.

1 mom found this helpful
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C.H.

answers from Medford on

I would check with the local Law Enforcement for whats safe, whats not, and whats lawful.
Good Luck
C. H. OR

1 mom found this helpful
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S.W.

answers from Seattle on

sounds to me that your 2 year old is not ready for the booster seat no matter how big she is. I would get her back in a carseat that she can not unbuckle. There are plenty of carseats with height and weight limits that will cover your child. Safety is the most important thing.

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W.C.

answers from Seattle on

Ages ago I heard there was a lock that you could get. Try going to Baby'r'us first to see if there is a lock. If not there go to a car dealer.

In the mean time. Every time that your daughter unlocks herself simply pull of the road, without getting mad or anxious, and put her back in the seat without talking. Tell you other daughter how proud you are of her that she did not unbuckle herself.

W. C.

1 mom found this helpful
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M.R.

answers from Seattle on

im not sure if theres a way to baby proof your seatbelts. are you able to tuck them down into the seat, or behind the booster maybe?
our 2 year old (27 lbs, 36 inches tall) is in a summit deluxe from safety 1st. the 5 point harness is good up to 40lbs, and then theres a belt positioner to use up to 100 pounds. ( http://www.amazon.com/Cosco-Summit-High-Back-Booster/dp/B... is a picture of it.) shes not able to reach down far enough to touch the seatbelt. im not sure what kinda of booster your daughter is in, but maybe something like this would work for you?

1 mom found this helpful
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L.M.

answers from Seattle on

I was aghast when I heard the words "two year-old" and "booster" together not because I was judging you, but because I was imagining my hell of trying to get anything done and fighting with a 2 year-old (who doesn't have the ability to understand completely why obeying you could save her life, her brain simply isn't to that point yet)to keep the seatbelt buttoned. Think about it from her point of view, how interesting is that clicking sound and oh, joy of joy mama gets all excited every time.

I have 5 kids, the youngest of who is 3, and he is still in his Britax car seat, no we are not rich we just use what little money we have towards safety. After watching the video links some of the other people have sent you I am going to go to the fire department and ask them to talk to our kids about safety and if we are doing everything correctly. Firefighters love doing this, because they see a lot of sad things that could have been prevented.

An earlier response suggested to sit quietly and wait for the seatbelt to get buttoned. I am the opposite I don't yell but I do tell my kids that they could die from not having their seatbelt on, I also as them if they want mommy to cry for ever and ever because I don't have anymore(insert name here)and my heart would hurt forever. It is the truth, and just the beginning of teaching them about how their actions can affect others.
Peace,
L.

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A.B.

answers from Portland on

The only thing I can think of is getting a different type of seat that goes past 40 pounds, the kind with 5 point harness, I don't know if this exists. Good luck.

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

J.,
Both our boys did this. Since our oldest is very tiny we didn't have the problem with the booster because he wasn't big enough for one until last year.
Because both of our boys have done this, we kept both of them in carseats until the ages of 5. With the 5pt harness system they couldn't get the lap part of the belt unbuckled therefore keeping them more safe than not. Our youngest doesn't like his booster seat and requested to go back to the carseat because when he falls asleep, the booster has no support for his head. He is so tall that the straps are maxed out. We do have a booster with a back that we are going to switch to and hopefully avoid the sleep issue.
If your daughter keeps doing it, I would put her back in a carseat, not for punishment, but for safety and tell her why you are doing it. Hopefully she isn't too tall.
Best wishes to you.

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A.C.

answers from Eugene on

I dont have any ideas, but I have a 4 almost 5 year old who does the same thing and I have not had any succsesful ideas to stop it. Im replying in hopes that if someone does give you a good idea that works you will pass it along. Good Luck

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J.H.

answers from Anchorage on

Check out the Britax http://www.britaxusa.com/products/Default.aspx ...it may be the ticket for your little Houdini! These are spendy but less costly than a stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at your local hospital.

We've got a Britax Regent and tell our 7 yo that it is just like the jet fighter pilot's seats with a 5 point harness. He is happy. He is safe.

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G.P.

answers from Seattle on

The problem is getting her to stop and obay you not try to cover the problem. If you 4 year old knows it is wrong how come your 2 year old dosen't? Sorry to be so blunt but unbuckling a seat belt is to dangerous to be passive about.

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D.R.

answers from Portland on

in my opinion, she should still be in a 5 point harness car seat.

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B.H.

answers from Seattle on

It definatly sounds like you need to get her back into a convertable carseat, or a 5 pt harness booster. If she is unbucking it defiantly is not safe! She may be height or weight ready for a booster, but not old enough to understand the safety concept. We went through this with my older son, so we got him a britax marathan that he can be into until hes 65 lbs. He is safe and I dont have to worry.
THere is other models that offer the higher weight restrictions,that are affordable, Evenflo Triumph Advance LX Convertible Car Seat
Sunshine Kids Radian Car Seat -
Britax Marathan
Im sure theres more.

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K.W.

answers from Portland on

From the Oregon Transportation Safety site:

CHILD RESTRAINT LAW: (effective July 1, 2007) Child passengers must be restrained in approved child safety seats until they weigh forty pounds. Infants must ride rear-facing until they reach both one year of age AND twenty pounds.

BOOSTER SEAT LAW: (effective July 1, 2007) Children over forty pounds must use boosters to 4'9" tall unless they have reached age eight.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

A M is correct. I think that your two yo should be in a 5 point harness seat. We had to buy the larger seat for both kids because they overlapped and both needed the same seat. You can get the official requirements at the DMV web site.

The seats that we had were good for up to 80 lbs, had backs to them. Once the child reaches a larger size the harness didn't fit and we had to use the seatbelt installed in the car. Because the seat had a back with notches for the shoulder harness the harness fit in a safe way. Otherwise the harness ends up over the child's neck.

My granddaughter, around the age of 3, discovered how to unbelt herself. My reaction was to pull to the side of the road and wait until she rebuckled herself. No discussion, no arguing. I said to her "It's unsafe to not be buckled in. I'm going to wait here until you buckle your seat belt." I had to wait for 10-15 minutes at first. I'd just sit there facing forward ignoring her arguments. Eventually she stopped unbuckling. I think it did take a month or two for this to happen. It probably took longer because I was inconsistent. I would lecture and push sometimes when we would be late for an appointment.

Therefor this does mean that if you're going somewhere that has a definite arrival time you have to leave early enough to still be on time. At first I would get frustrated and angrily tell her we had to get going etc. That only prolonged the time she was unbuckled and the time it took for her to learn to stay buckled.

I would like to comment on adopting kids from the foster care system. You will be getting children who have special needs as a result of previous treatment with their birth families. Caring for them takes very much more time that it did with your own kids. Raising them means learning different ways to raise them. Usually the usual forms of parenting do not work. Adopting the special needs child not only takes a lot of time but also uses up a whole lot of energy and may create emotions from you or the child that you never expected. Most of these kids are very angry, even the toddlers.

My daughter came to live with me at age 7. I didn't adopt her until she was 12. The two of us were in therapy for several years. Me to learn how to deal with her and her to learn how to handle her own emotions and to realize that not all mother's are abusive as her birth mother was.

I applaud you wanting to adopt. I urge you to wait until you're finished with school and are established in your profession(s).

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M.B.

answers from Portland on

She is not suppose to be in a booster!!! She is too young even though her she weighs that much. You should talk to your Ped.

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