Jul 29, 2014
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Help! My Kid and I Are Lawbreakers

One of the biggest changes in auto laws in 2012 is the requirement that children younger than 8 or under 4 feet, 9 inches tall remain in a booster seat in the rear of the car.

Help! My Kid and I Are Lawbreakers

Last week on Moms Talk, Maaliea Wilbur posed the question, Here’s what some folks had to say:

Breastfeeding in public should be tolerated, depending on the situation. I would think the mother would rather be in her car feeding her child rather than expose herself to public scrutiny.

I think breastfeeding in public is appropriate. It can easily be done discreetly to minimize embarrassment to both the mother and passers-by. I imagine most mothers would prefer to breastfeed in a private place, but when baby is hungry, she needs to eat!

Although one of the photos accompanying the column was a bit revealing for me, I stick by my response. This photo showed a nursing mother who was somewhat exposed, but she was in her hospital room, so I don’t see how anyone would be bothered by that. When moms are out and about with baby, it is easy to be discreet with a nursing top, sling, blanket, burp cloth, sweatshirt, button-up blouse, or even a diaper! And if a mom is really concerned about covering up, she can always get a Hooter Hider from Los Gatos-based company Bébé Au Lait.

Now on to the pressing question of the day: Are you and your second-grader breaking the law?

Now that it’s 2012, California law requires all children under the age of eight or under 4 feet 9 inches tall to ride in a child booster seat placed in the back seat.

This topic is near and dear to my heart—in fact, my first Moms Talk column in May 2011 was on this very subject. At the time, the state law said children had to ride in a child safety seat in the rear of the car until they were six or 60 pounds. Now that they’ve upped the ante, my younger daughter (who is 6 and still 37 pounds and 42 inches tall) is even farther away from ditching her car seat.

I’m glad they’ve raised the minimum age. I know a lot of 6-year-olds who are nowhere near 60 pounds or 57 inches tall. I’m also glad they switched the focus from weight to height, which seems more relevant when you’re talking about seatbelt positioning, and is also more in line with the American Academy of Pediatrics child safety seat guidelines.

I do have a question, though—what about all those under 4-foot-9-inch 6-year-olds who legally tossed their booster seats last year? Do they need to fish them out of the dumpster now?

And since the law apparently still includes the “or” (although when I went to the DMV website to look up the text of the law I only found a reference to the age, not the height requirement), making sure you don’t get a $100 ticket for a first-time offense could be tricky. Should we start carrying measuring tapes and our kids’ birth certificates in our cars?

I’m still going to err on the side of safety. I want my little one to stay in a booster seat until she’s 57 inches tall. Hopefully that will happen before she reaches high school … In case it doesn't, I'll keep the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's list of top-rated booster seats bookmarked on my cell phone.

Are you and your second-grader breaking the law?

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