Booster Seat/ Car Seat Question

Updated on March 27, 2011
J.P. asks from Glendale Heights, IL
15 answers

I've been following the news on the new recommendations for car seats, and wondering what I should do about our seats. For my 6 year old, we have a "belt positioning" booster seat. To me it looks like the seat belt is on her properly, EXCEPT when she falls asleep and "slumps over". We are planning a road trip for the summer and I know that she'll be napping in the car. I am concerned about her not being properly restrained while driving on the highway. I have seen booster seats with a harness online that say they go up to 100 lbs. , but some say up that after 40 lbs. use the seat belt. Are they all this way? She weighs about 45 pounds. Do any of you have an older/ bigger child in a seat with a harness? If so, what kind of seat is it? Also, should my 3 year old continue to stay in her car seat, or move to a booster seat with harness? She is about 34 inches tall and weighs 30 pounds. She still seems to fit in her current seat, which I believe is good until she's 40 lbs.

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answers from Chicago on

My 8 year old daughter is harnessed in a Britax Frontier. She is very tall for her age and still fits with some room to grow. She sleeps in the car frequently so I feel much better having her in a harness. She says the seat is very comfortable.

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answers from Kansas City on

If you want a seatbelt only booster with 'sleep slump' support, Recaro has a high back, head support booster seat with a weight limit of 120+ lbs. I got one for my seven year old in midnight (it's a soft micro fiber versus a poly blend I didn't like).

I got it because of the exact reason you are stating.....the sleeper's slump! And in our case, the 'DS in the car gamer's' slump!

Check out for more info. They have a one dollar shipping insurance pay one dollar and if the seat doesn't work for you, you can send it back for free.

P.S. My son says it's super comfortable to sit in too.

Also....the recaro prosport is a harness to seatbelt booster. Harness up to a crazy weight (my gf's seven year old chunk *sorry but it's true*) is still harnessed on long trips and it converts to a seat belt booster, at the earliest 40 lbs, but as late as whenever the harness doesn't fit anymore, and can be used as a seat belt booster up until 120 lbs. Anyway, that's all on line as well......

I, just yesterday, bought one recaro prosport and one britax frontier 85. I also have the reacaro probooster seat. The one thing I don't like about recaro, and it's really petty because I think for safety reacaro can't be beat, is the fact that recaro doesn't have cup holders and my kids have been spoiled with the ones they have now. Thus, the Britax (as long as all 3 car seats fit in my back seat because the britax is 19.5 wide instead of the 18 inches of recaro).

Believe you me...I've researched!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I know the britax goes up to 85 in the 5 point harness.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think all the mos who have responded are well meaning but, seriously, the BEST thing you can do is take your car, your kids and your car seats to a local, certified seat inspector. can help you locate O..
Usually local police departments have at least O. officer that is certified.
Your particular car can make a difference. For example, my car has low back seat backs, for that reason, our inspector suggested keeping our son in the booster longer b/c of potential head/neck damage.
So, while seeking information from other moms is fine, keep in mind that something like 60% of parents use the wrong seat or install it improperly.
A 30 minute trip could save someone's life. You don't want to guess about this. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I am pretty sure that boosters with a harness are only suitable up to 40lb , whatever the brand of seat. My middle child is 5 yrs old and weighs 42lb and she is in a high back booster with seat belt , my youngest will be 3 in June and weighs 34lb and she is in a booster with harness. I moved her from the convertable seat as she had become too tall (she is very tall for her age). If your youngest has not exceeded the height of her seat (her head is not higher than the top of the seat) then she is fine in her seat for now.



answers from Chicago on

Hi, We have the 5 point harness seat for my son. Graco and Britax both make them and they go up to 100 pounds. I think they are safer and even more comfortable. The seatbelts fit over the kids much better even win the fall asleep or move around.



answers from New York on

My kids are 5 and 2. My 5 year old is between 55 and 60 lbs. and looks 6. He will probably be able to stay in the harness of the Graco Nautilus about a year more and then be able to use it as a booster. My 2 year old is much smaller and only weight about 25-30 lbs but she got too tall for the 40lb/40 inches tall seat. We just put her also in a Graco Nautilus. There are a few seats with higher height and weight limits than the Nautilus: the Britax Frontier and Sunshine Kids Radian (2 or 3 models) and possibly one or 2 others. Babies R Us by me had only the Graco and the Britax seats to try. I liked the Graco My Ride but it didn't fit in our smaller car. I would have gotten all Graco Nautilus but I wanted one seat that is smaller and we can take on the plane this summer. I was looking at a Safety First and the Sunshine Kids seats that fold and are smaller but still have a harness above 50 lbs.



answers from Chicago on

The older seats with harness only go up to 40 lbs but pretty much any combo seat that has come out in the last few years goes higher. Most go to 65, a few to 80 or 100. You just have to read the info on the individual seat, every seat is different as far as how high the harness goes. It is tons safer to have a child in harness seat.

I would not put a 3 year old in a booster. AGain, go with the carseat with a higher harness weight. Yes, she may meet the minimum requirements for the booster seat, but that does not mean that is the safest way for her to ride.

There are tons of car seat safety techs at

Some examples of seats with a higher weight limit harness:
Britax Frontier
Graco Nautlius
Graco MyRide
Evenflo Symphony 65
Britax Marathon
Britax Roundabout (55)
Graco Smart Seat
Britax Advocate, Boulevard
Sunshine Kids Radian (65 or 80)
First Years True Fit
Evenflo Generations
Safety First Apex 65

There is even a deal on right now to get 2 of the Graco Nautilus for a discounted price.

Also, for the 3 year old make sure she also still fits in the seat height wise. Check the seat manual for height limit and make sure her shoulders are not above the top set of shoulder harness slots, or that the tops of her ears are below the top of the carseat's shell. If so she is fine till she hits the height or weight limit. The 6 year old probably isn't bad in a booster seat, but she would be safer in a harnessed seat. My 6 (almost 7) year old rides in a high back booster which is slightly safer than a no back, esp if your car has low seat backs. I did not switch him till he was about 5 1/2 though cause he wasn't mature enough to sit up properly and not mess with the seat belt. It might be better for your 6 year old to have a booster that has the back, that way if they fall asleep their head rests on the the head rest instead of them slumping over.



answers from Milwaukee on

For your older child you may want to look into a RSTV (Ride Safer Travel Vest, link from Amazon: It's a vest they wear instead of sitting in a booster. This way when she naps, she won't have the slumps and will stay safe.

For your 3yr old, I would look into the Graco Nautilus. This is a 5 point safety harness seat that converts into a high back booster and then just a booster. It works great for training them to stay upright in the seat (when she is old enough). If they don't, just pus the 5 point harness back on them. Also, you can't just look at height and weight. You need to look at where your child shoulders are in comparison to the top harness strap. If they are above the strap, they have outgrown the seat. My 3yr old outgrew her Marathon shortly after she turned 3. The Nautilus was a life saver. It had 2 or 3 more slots above where her shoulders currently were maxed out in the Marathon. And it converted to the high back booster she uses now. On longer trips, or is she just wasn't sitting right, I would stop using the seat belt and put her back into the harness.



answers from Anchorage on

My boys are both in booster that use the regular belt. They are 5 and 7. At a certain point the harness is unsafe if their shoulders are higher than were it comes out of the seat at.


My boys are both in booster that use the regular belt. They are 5 and 7. At a certain point the harness is unsafe if their shoulders are higher than were it comes out of the seat at.



answers from Seattle on

My kids are huge, my 30 lb super tall 3 year old is in a britax marathon, which goes up to 65lbs. My 60 lb tall 6 year old is in a britax frontier, which harnesses up to 85 lbs then uses the seatbelt to 120lbs. The seatbelt and 40lb thing is that using the seatbelt through the belt path is safer sometimes than using latch after 40lbs.

I've researched carseat safety and have been in a fatality accident with my daughter in a britax marathon so I firsthand trust their safety ratings! They're expensive but worth it, and there are good deals at or new in box on eBay.


answers from Kansas City on

We have our 3 year old, who is 43 inches and about 45lbs, in a 5pt harness still. We have a Graco MyRide 65 and he fits in it wonderfully. It goes up to 65lbs. Our 21 month old is in the same car seat rear facing, it goes up to 40lbs rear facing.

We also have the Graco Nautilus 3 in 1, and the 3 year old fits in that well too.



answers from Huntsville on

I have a Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 for my 5 year old daughter. It holds kids in the 5-point harness until they are 65 lbs. Then it is a belt-positioning booster, and also a backless booster.

I would recommend this seat for both of your kids. I will keep my daughter in the 5-point harness until she is 65 lbs. She is currently about 36 - 38 lbs.



answers from Provo on

My son is barely 50 pounds. I have a high back booster for him. It has the head rests on the side and then he falls asleep in the car he stays in the same position. I think it is a graco brand.

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