Advice on Toddler(3yr) W/ 5 POINT HARNESS Carseat/Booster Seat. What Do You Use?

Updated on March 03, 2011
K.H. asks from Denton, TX
19 answers

Hello Mamas,

I will be purchasing 3 new toddler carseat/booster seats WITH FIVE POINT HARNESS for my little girl as my baby is now getting too big for the infant carrier. I purchased 3 Britax Boulevard CS convertible carseats for my toddler who is now 3. She still fits in the seat perfect but I am going to upgrade her to a booster seat and use the other seat for my baby just in the rear facing position. The Britax I have was around $350 or so when I bought them (actually my parents bought them). We purchased 2 of the Britax and then another one that was around $280 for the babysitters car.

So my question is which booster seat do you like and why? I love the Britax Frontier 85(this seat is very nice and is made for a toddler) but it is also expensive and I have to buy 3. I want a seat with a five point harness for now and would like one that has a harness and then could also be used with the seat belt. Is there any seats that are comparable to Britax Frontier 85 that are a little less expensive? I want the babysitter to have a great seat for safety, but maybe something that doesn't cost as much. Are the

seats at Walmart and Target really good seats? They seem to be, but I am not sure why they are so cheap. Thank you in advance.

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So What Happened?

**Edit** The seat I am wanting is considered a booster seat... It does have a 5 point harness so my 3 year old is NOT TO YOUNG for this particular "booster" seat.

Featured Answers



answers from Burlington on

I just bought the the Graco Nautilus yesterday. The 5-point harness is good up to 65 lbs. You can use the seat belt starting at 40 lbs. if you choose to. The seat/booster is good to 100 lbs so, unless we're in an accident (the reason I had to replace her old seat), I will not have to buy another seat/booster for her again. I got it at Walmart for $145. I just (literally) assembled it (very simple) and put it in the car.
Good luck. Oh, my daughter is 3.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Research Revco. They have their own website, but I used If you want a high weight/height (up to 120 lbs/5 ft tall) limit with a convertable carseat, these are great.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Don't you all love how confusing the car seat categories are ;-).

The seat you're looking for is called a "Combination" seat - a forward facing seat that has a 5-pt. harness that can later be used as a belt-positioning booster when the harness is outgrown by height or weight. (Of course, it doesn't help that many car seat manufacturers will refer to a combination seat as a "booster")

The Combination seats most frequently rec'd by certified child-passenger safety techs are the Frontier85, the Graco Nautilus, and the Evenflo Maestro. These seats have high harnessed height/weight limits and also do a good job of positioning the seat belt properly as a booster seat. Most other combination seats (e.g. Cosco/Summit/Eddie Bauer) are not recommended because: 1) they often have 40 lb. harnessed weight limits *and* low top harness slots that are outgrown before the child has the size/age/maturity to use the seat as a booster; 2) they often position the safety belt poorly - the lap portion of the belt *should* be sitting low across the child's lap/upper thighs, so that in a sudden stop or accident the force is absorbed by the hip bones instead of the soft abdominal tissue.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Federal law dictates seat safety. What you pay for is the "extras" like cup holders, ease of cleaning, colors, and features like that. All types must follow the guidelines though and they are all good seats safety wise.

Edit to add
I didn't even notice the booster issue. My mom calls all carseats "booster" seats so I figured it was a regional thing.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree that 3 is way too young for the traditional "booster" seat. However, I purchased a seat for my son when he was 5 that may work for you, it's the Safety 1st Go Hybrid Booster. It's a 5-pt harness seat that converts to a backless booster. It's not like the traditional seats though as it has a soft back, therefore it needs a latch attachment for the harness to hold the back portion up. It can't be use on planes but is great to travel with since it folds up. I bought mine at a discounted $ thru Amazon and my now 7.5 yr. old is still using it with the 5-pt harness. I'm VERY happy with it. Here is a link with details:

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I would strongly suggest looking into the convertible car seats b/c you are spending a ton of money on car safety, which is silly when there are other options.

Your daughter is only three- she's too young and likely too small to be switched to a booster. Check the height/weight recommendations on the products before switching.

For what it's worth, we have the Evenflo Symphony in both of our cars and love it! We bought it when our little guy was too big for the infant carrier and it is great. It was significantly less expensive than the Britax and it converts to a booster.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You should change your title before some moms rip you a new one for wanting to put a toddler in a booster seat. We have the graco nautilus and love it. I feel its a nice inbetween seat not too pricey but not cheap, it has a higher harness weight then some of the cheaper seats. You could get an expensive seat that you really like for the main car and two cheaper ones for the secondary cars she will be in. All seats are safe they all have to pass the same tests others are cheaper because with britax you are paying for the name plus the bells and whistles that come with it like extra padding that does nothing but make the seat more comfortable and the pretty patterns you get on the cover.
Edited:'s already happening some aren't going to read to where you state you want something that has a harness.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I would personally only buy the britax, from reputation and ratings and personal experience with one in a fatality accident. There are good deals on and new in box on eBay. We love our frontier! In my opinion, I trust myself more than someone else when driving my kids, so having an equally safe seat in the babysitters car is just as or more important! The extra money to be able to use the 5point for 20 more lbs is priceless to me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

The Frontier is a great seat. Another one to check out is the Graco Nautilus. Its $150 and will harness to 65lbs and then booster to 100. It comes in all colors too, cute pink and purple patterns if you desire. :)
Another seat that might be a good choice for your babysitters care is the Evenflo Maestro, Evenflo Generations65, Evenflo Triumph advance... these all harness to 50 or 65lbs.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We have a Britax Frontier that we started using with our son shortly after he turned 3. He is 4 now and we are still using the 5-point harness.

We love the seats and have them in both of our cars.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

We LOVE our Graco Nautilas (sp). It does 5-point to 65 lbs. Actually our 5 year old is still in the 5-point. I feel so much better with him still in it. We spend a lot of time on the road and I want all my kids to be safe. This seat also goes to a high back booster then a regular booster. I can't say enough good things about this seat and it also has good reviews.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Graco Nautilus. It's a great 5 point harness and can be transfered to a high back booster and then just a booster.

You need to look at more than weight, you also need to look at height. My dd is in the 94% for height so she is tall. The nautilus works great for her for height and weight.

Nautilus is also great for training kids to sit right in a booster seat w/ a seatbelt. The shoulder straps come off easily so you can have them in the seatbelt. If your kid is not sitting right, you can put the the shoulder straps for the 5 point harness back on.

Just because a kid turns 4 doesn't mean they are goint to sit up and back in a booster w/ a seatbelt. They need to learn to stay upright even when a 5point harness is not holding them in.


answers from Columbus on

It took me forever get my son's current car seat, I had to research it to death and keep changing my mind. Finally we decided on the Graco Nautilus, and I'm so happy with it. It was so simple to put together & install in the car. My son was almost 3 and was already too big for the smallest setting, but it was a cinch to move the headrest up and remove the support pad. I just wish we had gotten it sooner.



answers from Augusta on

3 is too young to put in a booster seat.
The seats at walmart and target are great seats.
We had great luck with the Evenflo Triumph.
cost more does not mean it's better.
They are cheaper because Britax is over priced.



answers from Philadelphia on

I have 2 britax (marathon and decathlon) car seats and love the fact that they have higher harness weight limits. When I was doing my research for new cars seats the graco nautilus lost out only because it could not be rear facing, and I kept my kids rear-facing until they outgrew the rear-facing weight limit. So, take a look at the graco nautilus as an option, or as a secondary option so you don't have to buy 3 of the britax.



answers from Dallas on

I also wanted a seat with a five point harness that would convert to a booster when she got older and this is what I got:Graco - Nautilus 3-in-1 MultiUse Car Seat.
They also carry this seat at Babies R Us and Target. I just love the seat and my daughter does too. She is still in the five point harness, but it should be really good as a booster too.

The Britax frontier is a good seat, but I didn't want to spend the money and this seat has good reviews. Hope I helped some.



answers from Dallas on

I have a Graco Nautilus. It is a 5 point harness that converts to a high back booster and then to a backless booster. The booster seat is rated to 100 lbs. They are just under $200. I bought this for my 6 yr old when she was 3. My 6 yr old still uses the 5 pt harness because she is only 36 lbs and I am keeping her in the harness as long as possible.

Also, the Graco seat has gotten great reviews.



answers from Washington DC on

A 3y can sit in a highback booster if they meet the weight/height minimums. My 3y neice meets these, but my 4y daughter is just meeting them. So read all of the minimums carefully.

There are some really good highback boosters in the $100 - 150 range that will take you to 100lbs so it should be the last one you'll need to buy.

Also, if your sitter doesn't drive your daughter around often, just as a as needed, I would probably find something on sale. My mom was a backup sitter for my daughter and when we bought a convertible seat for car I found a new one on sale for $30 at Toys R Us. She ended up using in only about 5 times in 4 years so I'm glad I didn't spend a ton of money on it.

My car has a Britax Marathon, because I am the one she is with most often, and I wanted a girly purple pattern. Literally, that was the only one at the time that had a pattern that was girly!

The convertible seat in my hubby's truck is black and we bought if for $100 at Target. He didn't want a girly seat in his truck!

Another trick is to look at the season change. Each season the companies come out with new styles and patterns. The old season patterns usually go on a really good sale. Which is how I found the seat for my mom's car.




answers from Dallas on

We just bought two graco nautilus seats and like them so far. They are half the price of the frontier. I think, in the frontier, the seat goes up to 100 pounds for the 5 point harness, and in the graco, its 65. I got them off Amazon, there was free shipping, and I think they were about $139 each.

The reviews on them were comparable.

Good luck!

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