Technically the RideSafer is rated starting at 3 years old and 30 pounds. The specifications adopted by the manufacturer are strictly based on the 3-year-old test dummy which is based on a 50% child. If your child is big for his/her age they would most likely fit the vest. However, using the vest for a younger child would be outside the manufacturer’s specifications, removing any liability from the manufacturer/reseller.
That being said, as a mom, I have to admit that I did use a RideSafer for our 2 1/2 year old on vacation as I was traveling on my own with 3 kids. He did fit the size specifications (barely) just not age and I made sure to use a RideSafer with tether so I could use the tether strap as well as the lap-shoulder belt for additional upper body support and restraint. This also helped keep him in proper position.
Really it comes down to a choice we make as parents.
The truth is that whether forward facing in a 5 point harness or forward facing in the RideSafer vest, in a frontal crash (the most common type), the end mechanism is the same. We are restraining the body with the harness or vest/seat belt and the head is being thrust forward, dependent upon the neck to hold back the child’s disproportionally large head. The potential for injury is virtually the same.
The safest option for an 2-year-old is to use a rear-facing car seat. We realize while traveling this can be very inconvenient. If this is the option you choose, there are very inexpensive lightweight convertible seats that make travel easier. This is what we did when our children required rear-facing while traveling. We bought an inexpensive lightweight seat for travel and left our nice one in our car at home ready for our return.
If you are taking taxis (or have other such circumstance) and the choice comes down to using a RideSafer for a 2-year-old versus having your child buckled in with you (definitely not a safe option) or even buckling them in with no positioning device; we would prefer a parent to use a RideSafer (again a RideSafer with tether).
Some states legally require caregivers to use a child restraint according to manufacturer’s specifications.