There have been many reports regarding the new stricter rules about booster cushions and this has caused much confusion.
This new amendment to the current regulation 44 is now in effect. This means that parents who currently have booster cushions can legally continue to use them as they have been.
Any new backless booster seats (booster cushion) coming to market from the 9th February 2017 will only be suitable for children above 22kg AND 125cm. Stock that was introduced before this date, will still be eligible for sale.However, we always recommend that children travel in the high back booster if they are the correct weight and height for it, and fit comfortably within the headrest. A high back booster provides additional head, neck, torso protection and side impact protection that a booster cushion does not.
There are currently two child car seat regulations running alongside each other – R44.04, which are the weight based car seats, and R129, which is a new regulation.
R129 is making seats easier to choose, fit and use. However, R44.04 weight based approved seats will still be sold, legal and safe for some years to come. One of the key features of R44 is that child seats are chosen based on weight:
Group 0+ (infant seats) – 0 to 13kg
Group 1 (toddler seats) – 9kg to 18kg
Group 2,3 (Booster seats) – 15kg to 36kg
Part of the problem with R44, is that children tend to be moved up a stage as soon as they reach the minimum weight limit for the next stage, when it is actually safer for them to stay in each stage seat until they reach the maximum weight limit for their current stage. A step up in group stage is a step down in safety.
R44.04 currently allows boosters, even booster cushions, to be approved from 15kg – this can legally be a child as young as 2 years or less! While the weight limit is the main factor, there are also height considerations to take into account. A child can be 15kg in weight, yet still be far too small to use a booster.
Children's bones are very different from adults, and their hips and pelvis are very small and set far back. The hips and pelvis are what helps to keep a seat belt in place, and absorb energy. These bones are not really strong enough for a seat belt until a child is around 4 years of age. There are 25kg harness limit seats for children who reach the 18kg harness weight limit at a young age.
Children under 125cm in height and 22kg weight will not be allowed to use a newly type approved (R44.04 supplement 11) booster cushion, but can still use booster cushions that were approved prior to the implementation date. Otherwise, they will have to use a high back booster.
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