20 answers

Car Seat vs Booster - Aurora,CO

My 4 1/2 year old son threw up in the car yesterday. I tried cleaning out his car seat but it still smells - he's been in a Britax Roundabout for the last 2 1/2 years. He is not a very big kid - 41" tall and around 36 lbs.

My question: do I take this one apart, clean the heck out of it and keep using, or should I use this time to switch him to a booster.

If booster, I know the Graco TurboBooster is very popular, but I'm thinkng of the Britax Regent or Frontier - only issue: COST! But they are top of the line with respect to safety.

thanks for your advice.

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Thanks for all your responses. I ended up getting a Graco Nautilus convertible seat/booster. For now, he's in the 5 point harness, just like he's been for the last 3 1/2 years. When he's older AND bigger, I will take the harness out but keep the high back and he'll use that as a booster. Then, when he's much older and bigger, the back comes off and he can use the seat as a backless booster.

I took it to the fire department and they installed it for me as I can never get it in as tightly as they can.

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I would switch to a booster if it was me. If nothing else, than just because it is easy load kids if all you have to do is buckle a seat belt, rather than the 5pont harness, and if you ever have to switch back and forth between cars, you don't have to buckle the booster to the car, and then buckle the kid. Just one easy step.

You can take the seat cover off and wash it. It seems kind of hard, but once you do it for the first time, it's pretty easy. Just can be time consuming at first. I would keep them in the 5 pt harnest for as long as you can. Safer.

Good Luck!!

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Hi L.,
I would urge you to consult Consumer Reports, you'd be amazed how many products that are the most expensive are not alway's the best or safest. I would ask your pediatritian about the height/weight requirements for the car seats. Good luck!

L., it shouldn't matter what type of booster seat you get with regard to safety. The purpose of a booster is just to lift him up high enough so that the seat belt can protect him. Just make sure he meets the height and weight requirements for being in a booster.

Here's a link to recommended seats from a safety view point. Maybe it will help. http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr100108.html We have our son in the high-backed Graco (on the good list) and like it a lot. We travel, so he needed headrests. We've been pleased with it. Like your son, he was tall enough but didn't meet the weight requirements. He did fit the seat properly, though, so we went ahead and switched him. Since we travel so much, he was much happier in the booster for long trips. Since the belt is positioned properly, we don't have a problem with his moving the belts. If we didn't travel so much, and he would have tolerated it, I probably would have left him in the car seat longer. All my research says seats are good for 6 years from manufacture date. If it doesn't have a manufacture date, it's probably older than 6 years. GL making your decision!

Hi L.. I would go with a booster seat that has a high safety rating no matter the cost. There was a report on I think it was the Today Show about booster seat safety. There were many booster seats that, because of their design, did not thread the seat belt correctly across the correct parts of a childs body. I bet if you check the Today Show website you could still find this story.

I'd go with a booster. He's probably big enough. And he can start buckling himself! (fun for him, just make sure to double check it for a correct and snug positioning) Take him with you to shop for one and have him sit in the different models they have. Find one that's comfortable and will position the seat belt on his lap and shoulder correctly (some are even adjustable to grow with him). The most expensive is not necessarily the best.

I am not sure about the car seat rules since it has been awhile for me...my daughter is 7 years old. However, the product (Sol-u-mel) I mentioned earier about getting the marker out of your fireplace tile is also a natural deoderizer. My dog decided to pee on our BRAND NEW furniture and I don't know if you have animals but that smells bad...especially if it goes undetected for a few days. I used Sol-u-mel and you would never know he peed even when you get your nose right down to it and sniff hard! It is a wonderful product! Let me know if you want information about how to get it at a discount or free from the manufacturer!


He is still below the recommended weight of a booster. My daughter is seven and just now went in one because of her size.
You can get him a highback booster that converts when he weighs more and is taller.
There was a study out not so long ago that even big named boosters were not safe. I go the no back Graco and it was NOT on the list.
Check out the safety and the recalls on the websites.
A seat is not good to use after five years, which is a big reason I moved my daughter. If you cannot clean your sons well, try lysol, clorox disinfecting wipes and just let it sit in the sun to air out. My daughter threw up in our van and the smell lingered for three months, even after shampooing the carpet. So give it time. Sounds like he should just stay in his seat for now.

hi. Well some of that desision would depend on your states rules. some states reguire that children be a certain age or hight before you switch them to a booster seast. Sorry caint help much more than that. I would put him in a booster seat.

Hi L.,

I am having the same kind of issues. In California (they usually are ahead of the curve) the rule is 40", 40 pounds and 4 years old before changing to a booster (note: the kid must be all 3 things).

I would wash the carseat. If that doesn't work I would buy one of the carseat/boosters (maybe hint to grandparents that you could use some help buying it). Then let your son pick out the color on Baby universe (after you choose the model). Remember most carseat straps are no longer safe after being washed in a washer or with certian detergents. Follow your instinct. Maybe a friend has a carseat you can use until you can save up the cash to buy the seat you want. I think 4 year olds are only expected to gain around a pound in a year.....so weight wise it could be a while before your son is 40 lbs.


I would switch to a booster if it was me. If nothing else, than just because it is easy load kids if all you have to do is buckle a seat belt, rather than the 5pont harness, and if you ever have to switch back and forth between cars, you don't have to buckle the booster to the car, and then buckle the kid. Just one easy step.

I personally would keep him in the Roundaboutand try another round of cleaning. A five point harness is always the safest, so if he hasn't outgrown the seat,(shoulders are at or below the top slots, ears are below the top of the seat shell, and he's under the weight limit.)I would keep him in that one. When you're cleaning, just remember that the straps cannot be emmersed in water. You can wipe them down with a slightly soapy water solution, but don't soak them. Call Britax, and I'm sure than they can give you advice for cleaning it. I know it's no fun to clean throw up out of every nook and cranny. I've been there a few times with my girls.

I have Britax Marathons for my kids, and I plan on keeping them in the 5 pt harness until they are 65 lbs. It is so much safer. If the kids are in a booster, they can easily move the seatbelt into a postion where they are not full protected. That scares me.

I am sure the throw up smell will go away if you clean the seat well. Wash the cover and the straps, and wipe the rest of it out. If he still fits in his Roundabout, you can keep using it.

I have to take our car seats apart to wash the pads at least once a year. They get dirty, and you'll find instructions for washing the pad in your user's manual (it ought to be in a holder on the back side of the seat).
You will also find the seat's expiration date stamped on the back of the seat. It seems like everyone I ask cites a different life span for a car seat. Mine say 6 years. Your best bet is to look on the back of the seat to see when it says it expires.
I was so excited to move my son up to a booster seat. He gave his convertible car seat to his baby brother, so he'd been in a seat that had a 5-point harness that later converted to a high-backed booster (our car has no headrests, so he has to have a high-backed booster. If your car has built-in headrests, you can get one of those $15 things to sit on, I think.) When he hit 40 pounds and his shoulders were too high for the harness, I was happy to take out the harness and use it as a booster. I thought it would be easier. NOT! Well, it's easier to move between cars, but my son could buckle his harness by himself and he'd get himself in his seat alone. Now I have to thread that stupid shoulder belt through the booster (it comes out of the belt-positioner often when DS gets out) and lean way around him to buckle the seat belt. So it's not anything to want to rush into.

I would go for the frontier since it has the option for a 5 point harness which is going to last you a long time since it does also convert to a booster seat. The Regent is only a 5 point harness and when your kids get older they will want to use the seat belts and not the harness. He is right on the verge of being tall enough just the weight issue might be best to harness him for a few more pounds or even longer since the harness can go up to 80lbs. If you have the $$ I would totally do the frontier I am a huge britax fan and am on the verge of needing a booster and I will definitly go with a britax.

I had a similar problem, but my child threw-up in the car... someone suggested this cleaning method and it worked wonders!

Soak all the material you can with vinegar - straight vinegar, and wash down (use a sponge SOAKED with vinegar) all the plastic and other material you can't throw in a washer. Let air dry. Then go back over the car seat again with something that smells a little better (fabreeze or something similar)

After soaking the material for 15 min. wash and dry as you usually would.

This will make the car seat (& probably your car) smell like vinegar for a few days... not pleasant, but MUCH better than the smell of vomit. After that the smell fades. This was a life saver for my car! Hope it helps. Something with the vinegar that kills the bacteria in the vomit and the bacteria is what causes the lingering odor.

Hello...first I would check with the laws your state has about age and size requirements before changing from a car seat to a booster. Here in Idaho I believe the magic age is 4, but it is also up to the parent to decide what they feel is the best choice for their child.
As far as cleaning...I have had the same issue and I took everything apart, washed the cover in detergent, vinegar and a little baking soda on a cold cycle and it took the smell out completely. I did the same soap solution for the straps, but soaked them in the kitchen sink and rinse them clean. Also make sure you wipe every little part of the actual seat...I am always amazed what I find under and behind the seat cover.
Hope this helps.

The Roundabout cover EASILY comes off and goes into the washer! (see your attached instructions. I would advise anyone to REGULARLY wash their covers due to germs (would you only wash their sheets once a year?!). I wash mine every month...

I love my Frontier and feel safer with the 5 point system but if cost is an issue the Turbo Booster is good, too. I use that one for a "secondary/just in case" extra.

I think the whole great thing about a britax is that you can keep them in a harness longer. That is safer than a booster seat. I would clean it, BUT if you don't want to and were looking at getting rid of the seat, I would take it off your hands for free, lol......

You can take the seat cover off and wash it. It seems kind of hard, but once you do it for the first time, it's pretty easy. Just can be time consuming at first. I would keep them in the 5 pt harnest for as long as you can. Safer.

Good Luck!!

Go to TodayShow.MSN.Com and look at their segment on booster seats. They just did a study on booster seats and found the least expensive booster seats were the safest for kids. That will tell you which ones are the best.

We just use the bottom booster for our 4-year-old.

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