Carseat Vs. Booster?

Updated on August 07, 2010
D.H. asks from Fort Lauderdale, FL
14 answers

My daughter is almost 2 1/2 years old, is 37 inches tall and weights about 33 lbs. Her shoulders are defnitely higher than the highest notch on her Britax Marathon car seat, but from what I'm reading online she seems too young to move to a booster. She has always been extremely tall (according to the charts the doc shows us at checkups). I have a hard time getting her into the seat without bumping her head. Any suggestions on a booster that still has a 5 point harness? I'm looking for maximum safety. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all and especially to Becky! I did some research today and I am leaning towards the Graco Nautilus or the Frontier. I guess I'm not 100% sure which Britax we have since I've had it for almost 2 years. She has a long torso (like her Daddy!) and I'm positive that her shoulders are above the last slot. I will definitely keep her in a 5 point harness for safety, but I feel confident that she needs a new seat. She also outgrew her infant car seat extremely quickly. She was not even six months when I had to buy the Britax because she was so heavy and so long. Thank you ladies!

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answers from Sacramento on

I had that carseat for my son. When it was time, I bought the Britax Regent. He is six years old and still loves it. I did get him a booster for travel...but both he and I prefer him to use the Regent.

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answers from Miami on

oy vey. let's not go by the law per say, mamas. let's go by what is the absolute safest for our children! the law says you don't have to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, but is this the safest choice available?

with the britax marathon, you might get more life from it? call britax. I know that a child can fit in it w/ an inch of the top of the ears over the top of the protective shell.

anyway, you do NOT want to put such a small child in a booster!
and I don't even know if she's heavy enough for the Regent (they don't make them anymore but they are amazing and you most certainly can find one online- they just stopped making them this year)- it might be 40lbs to sit in it.

go for a Britax Frontier, which converts to a GREAT booster after! And it's 'good' for 9 years from the date of manufacture! (your marathon is good for six)

here is a car seat chart for everyone to pass along to their pediatricians, friends, family, the world :)

keep those babies SAFE mamas!

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answers from Sacramento on

I had that carseat for my son. When it was time, I bought the Britax Regent. He is six years old and still loves it. I did get him a booster for travel...but both he and I prefer him to use the Regent.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Check your state laws regarding weight and age for boosters and check your manual for your Marathon. Your child can stay in the Marathon until 65 lbs. of weight and 49" in height so your child is definitely not there yet. Once she reaches the height/weight max, you may want to consider the Britax Frontier, a 5 pt. harness. We LOVE the Frontier.

P.S. When we brought our child's seat into the local police dept. to be checked for safe installation, the seat check specialist said that it is ideal that your child's shoulders be higher than the seatbelt coming out of the seat. The seatbelt should wrap up and over the shoulders, not come down from above the shoulders. Safer that way.

Update: BeckyW is incorrect regarding the shoulder slots.
"5.Use the harness slots at or below the child's shoulders. "

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answers from San Antonio on

I checked out what Christina said and found this:

To clarify, a child must stay in a carseat until the age of four OR they have reached the upper height/weight limit for carseats. If your daughter is past the limit of the carseat, then it is no longer safe for her.

Most carseats, though, have limits higher than what your daughter is. They usually go up to 40 lbs.(I checked your brand on Amazon, and it says it goes up to 65 lbs.) Also, in forward-facing seats, it's okay for the shoulders to be higher than the highest notch. It's when they're rear facing that the shoulders need to be below the notch.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Love my Graco Nautilus! (plural) Moved my son into it when he was 3 1/2 and my daughter when she was about 18 months! my son is knocking on 5 and still fits perfectly - he is very tall also. I love the security of the 5 point harness. It doesn't recline like some brands so they use a pillow for long trips.


answers from Salt Lake City on

Most boosters have a size on them. I would look at one that supports her weight and height. I don't have a suggestion for a brand but I would say if you find one that she would fit in with her height and weight I would just put her in a booster. Usually if they are between 30-40 pounds you need a booster with the back on it, and many of those still have the harness so that you can convert it later.
Your local health department, fire department or car dealership may do car seat checks and they sometimes will sell them too. You may want to call them for a recommendation.

Good Luck



answers from Austin on

In texas, it's the law that children stay in carseats until they are 4 years old. You might check and see what the rules are there.



answers from Boston on

she technically could still fit rear facing in several seats. I wouldn't put her in a booster yet they aren't safe. If you get your seat checked and you need a new seat the graco nautilus harnesses to 65 lbs and to 52 inches.


answers from Minneapolis on

UPDATE I am NOT incorrect in stating the car seat harness needs to be above the shoulders for a foward facing car seat! The link LeeLee S. put up states right at the top of the '#5' she quotes that the installation of below the shoulders is for REAR FACING car seat. For forward facing the harness MUST be above the shoulders to prevent spinal compression. The car seat manual will state below the shoulders for REAR FACING and above the shoulders for FORWARD FACING.

Oh good heavens the bad advice on this post! A forward facing car seat is outgrown when one of three things happens; the child goes over the weight limit, the tips of the ears are level with the seat back, or the shoulders go over the top harness slot.

For forward facing the harness must come from just at or ABOVE the shoulders, never below. If the harness is on the top slot and comign from below her shoulders she has outgrown it. However I'm guessing at only 37" tall she has not outgrown this seat yet..... unless she is all torso and has no legs at all, which i doubt.

If she's still under that top harness slot, she's fine in the seat. If you ahve a Marathon the top harness slot is 17", which is the torso height of the average 7yr old. My almost 5yr old doesn't have a 17" torso, and he's 43" tall. Heck my 8.5yr old is 53" tall and has a 16.75" torso.

Do you have the seats confused... do you have a Roundabout instead of a Marathon? I so, then its likely she has outgrown it, the Roundabout is the 40lbs model with a lower top harness slot.

Please keep her harnessed, there are so many seats on the market right now that there is no good reason for a child under age 6 to be in a booster seat!

Evenflo Maestro ($79 at Target) will harness to 50lbs, has a tall top harness slot and also becomes a good booster seat down the road when the harness is outgrown.

Evenflo Generations 65 will harness to 65lbs and the nbooster. Its $99 at Babies R Us

Graco Nautilus is $150 and will harness to 65lbs, fitsm ost kids to age 7 in the harness, and then boosters to 100lbs. It will be the last seat she needs.

Britax Frontier is $300, will harness to 85lbs, then booster to 120lbs. Again will be the las tseat your child needs.

Any of these are a goo choice for your child ,but remember that the seat is not outgrown unless one of three things happens;the child goes over the weight limit, the tips of the ears are level with the seat back, or the shoulders go over the top harness slot.

I'm guessing you have a Roundabout instead of a Marathon, because even with her height, I just can't picture her with a 17" torso.



answers from Port St. Lucie on

When my son became too big for his Marathon, we moved him into the Britax Frontier, if you shop around online, you can find it for closer to $200 rather than $300, I think we spent $225. LOVE the seat, he is 5 1/2, still happily harnessed and will be in the harness for a few more years and eventually will convert it into a booster. I highly recommend the Frontier.
As others have said, it is probably a smaller Britax you have now, such as the Roundabout. I know lots of tall 5 year olds who are still in Marathons, they look big in them but the still meet the requirements to use them safely.

You are making the right choice keeping her harnessed :) I have a few friends who have the Graco Nautilus and are very happy with it.



answers from Eugene on

I would have been pissed if I had bought a Britax and my kid grew out of it at 2. After reading your question I looked at in online and the description says to 65lbs. Even tall on the charts, she can't as tall as what a 65lb kid should be. Go back and look at the way the seat is installed. I don't have a Britax, but my seat does have a bottom that comes off and lowers the seat as the child gets bigger. Our state law is 5 point until 40lbs, it is higher. If the height of the seat is still a problem with getting her into the car, you can get many seat that they 5 point harness pull out & convert into a booster. You will have to look at them and see if the base is the same thickness as what you have or you will still be hitting her head. If you can make the Marathon work you won't have to spend anything.



answers from St. Cloud on

We purchased a Britax Frontier 85 for both our 3 and 5 year olds. They LOVE it. And so do we! They will 5 point harness till 85# (can't remember the height but it works for tall kids.) And then you can use it as a booster till 100 pounds.

Albee baby had them on sale so they were only $223 each. Well worth the price when you figure it will be the last seat you will have to purchase!



answers from Tampa on

She needs to remain in a car seat. There are plenty of car seats out there that will last until the child is past five years of age. A car seat is far safer than a booster and the child actually can see better and be more comfortable in the car seat. My girls prefered the car seat to the booster seats.

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