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  1. #1

    School bus with 3 point harness - what to do?

    I am considering booster seat to potentially use in school bus this coming fall. Seats all have three point harnesses. My kid is 4'2" tall. We live in China, and it is not a traditional western school bus, looks more like a very small tour van. This is not our school, but here is an example of what the bus looks like (same make/model of vehicle):

    Bus attendant will absolutely require that kids use seat belts, and may even buckle younger students in (i.e. no avoidance).

    I am worried about my small kid using a 3 point harness belt, both for comfort and safety.

    My question is:
    Should I
    a) buy a narrow inexpensive backless booster and hope the bus attendant will accept it/let my kid use it
    b) just advise my kid to just place the shoulder strap part behind her back (as we often did when we were little and none of these seats existed)

    The children on the bus will range in age from 7 up into high school, so some of the students will actually be able to use a three-point harness comfortably and safely. There are few car seat standards in China (they are emerging, but still very limited) and so far the MO for school buses seems to be that everyone buckles up, which is good - however, to date (starting at new school in the fall) we have only encountered lap belts on seat belts, never three-point belts.

    I am looking at the Nania booster right now. If I do get a seat, it should be narrow and light weight so that it will definitely fit into the seat without affecting neighbor and *also* in event that kid has to regularly remove the seat on own, etc. I looked at the Bubblebum, also a narrow model, nice portability, but the two side clips look like possibly (?) too much for kid on own to handle. Whatever seat I get, the kid would have to do it all on his own, can't count on bus attendant to grasp any complexity.

    Asking now as if I go with seat option, I need to look into booster seat options so I can buy while we are in the US over the summer (car seats in China very expensive, selection/models limited and catering primarily to much younger children).

    Going with option "b" would be easier overall (no purchase required, no seat to worry about) but I'm just not sure…. The bus ride is on extremely busy surface streets and is about 20 minutes max.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by wendytthomas; 04-17-2014 at 10:33 AM.

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  3. #2
    Moderator - CPS Technician safeinthecar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Bay Area California

    Re: School bus with 3 point harness - what to do?

    You can try to use a booster if the driver will let you, but you also might be surprised that even the smaller 7yos fit the seatbelts extremely well since bus and high passenger capacity van seats tend to be shorter front to back than family cars. If you cannot use a booster, even if the seatbelt fit is poor, DO NOT have your child tuck the shoulder belt behind her back. Doing this would make her even less safe since a poorly fitting lap belt would cut even more into her belly without a shoulder belt to help keep her upper body back. An overly high shoulder belt is just uncomfortable, not dangerous at all.

    Since there are not really a lot of regulations for carseats there, can you import an incognito for her to use. It weighs almost nothing and can easily slip in and out of a bookbag.
    Proud mommy of Becky 18! Danny 15 Hope 12~Auntie to William-14, David-10, and Logan 2~

  4. #3
    Senior Community Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Re: School bus with 3 point harness - what to do?


    Welcome to CarSeat.Org!

    Its awesome that the bus your child will be riding has seat belts, especially three point belts. I know most people aren't used to seeing three point (lap and shoulder) belts on buses but they are really much safer.

    You mentioned your child is 4'2"; do you know how much he or she weighs, and by the way how old is he or she?

    The very best option would be if your child can bring a backless booster (either the Bubblebum or a traditional backless booster). From what I've heard children often learn fairly quickly how to pass the seatbelt through the clips on the Bubblebum, so that might be more convenient and easier to carry in a schoolbag for your child.

    Putting the shoulder belt behind the back is not a good idea though; even though we did it as kids nowadays a lot of things we did have been found to be unsafe and that's one of them. The shoulder belt among other things protects you child from injuring their spine (neck and back) and suffering serious head injuries. The ideal would be a backless booster, but in the event they don't permit one it would be better to wear the shoulder belt anyways, even if the fit isn't as good as it should be.

    But please give us some more information on age and weight; also do you know what North American shirt size your child wears?
    Mom to Mischief 1/DD (10.5), Mischief 2/DS1 (8), Mischief 3/DS2 (6.5), and now baby 4/DS3 (21 months), already in training to be Mischief 4 soon, since he is learning from the best!

  5. #4

    Re: School bus with 3 point harness - what to do?

    Appreciate your replies!!

    She is presently 4'2" now and about 4 months back weighed 20kg, which is 44lbs. She has put on a little weight since then (heavier to pick up!), sorry no precise measure there. She will be 7 in fall, turning 8 by very end of the year.

  6. #5

    Re: School bus with 3 point harness - what to do?

    Sorry if this is a duplicate.

    She was 20kg or 44lbs in late December '13 but heavier now, much harder to pick up (sorry we don't have scale here…). 4'2" at present.
    We have a size 6/6x t-shirt from Target that fits properly now, if that helps.
    Age 7 now, will be 8 at end of the year.
    Not exceptional for height or weight - usually mid percentiles for height and mid-to lower for weight.

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