Booster Seat Vs. 5 Point Harness

Updated on November 08, 2011
L.D. asks from Greenwood, SC
11 answers

My son went for his 4 year old check up today and I was surprised when his pedi recommended a high back booster with a 5 point harness. We had just just bought him a backless booster seat over the weekend for him to use and now I'm wondering if I need to return it. He is 4 yrs old and 40 in tall. The pedi recommended looking for a harness that can hold him until he's 80 lbs?! I've never heard of an 80 lb harness. But anyway, I need recommendations on some good highback boosters with a harness. I would like to keep the price around 50.00 or less if I can. Thanks!

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answers from Kansas City on

I hear a lot of mamas discussing the 5 point harness, and honestly, my son was constantly unbuckling himself because he didn't like feeling restrained. We put him in an age, weight, and height appropriate booster, and he loves being able to be a big boy and buckle himself in. We discussed when it is ok to unbuckle, and that he isn't allowed to open the car door until he is specifically told to, and he hasn't had a problem. We made this switch about 9 months ago, and he couldn't be happier!

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answers from Tampa on

I will have my two kids in a 5-point harness until they outgrow them...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Naples on

My daughter is in a Britax 5 point car seat @ 60lbs and 2nd grade, and will be until she is 90 lbs. My husband and father are both retired law enforcement officers and my husband races and builds race cars. They can both tell you horror stories about improperly secured children in accidents, seat belt failure, and the forces of an accident. if this link doesn't work for you, then go to YouTube and search "five point carseat" and watch the first thing that you see posted by the kc miller family.

ETA: they are NOT "baby seats", they are SAFETY Seats. That was an ignorant comment from someone calling them "baby seats". My 2nd grader has no problem climbing in and out of hers in the car rider line at school she says that it's very comfortable, and enjoys that she can see better, and reach the stock ceiling mounted DVD player in the Durango, and on long trips can stretch her legs out in between the front seats onto the armrest and go to sleep without having her head hang forward and giving her a stiff neck. We've had other kids in the car for friend's activities, Girl Scout field trips etc.....she has no problem with it. My sister's kids are all adopted from China and are all very petite. All three of hers are in Britax 5 point seats, and she jokes that at this rate the now 60lb 9 year old will be taking her driving exam in one at 16!

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answers from Washington DC on

SO HAPPY to hear that other mammas are keeping their kids in 5pt harnesses-- serioulsy thought I was the only one. My friend in CA has her 3yr old in a high back booster (no harness) and it freaks me out. I've tried talking to her about it but swears the law in CA says its okay. I could care less about the law, its safety I prefer. It might be a little inconvienent--barely-- but my kids' safety is worth it. I also carry both my 5pt harness carseats onto airplanes and my kids sit in them in the seats. My dad is a pilot for United and I grew up hearing horror stories about turbulance and accidents and I feel much safer knowing my kids won't fly up in the air randomly.

I second the Graco Nautalis-- LOVE this seat for my 5 and 3 yr olds. DD is in Kgarten and can get in and out (with the exception of the middle crotch buckle, her little thumbs aren't wuite strong enough for that) just fine in the car rider line. They aren't exactly light, but they go in and out of cars easily and like I've lugged two through airports (alone) before. Plus they transition to the booster once kids are too big for 5pt harness.

The Babies R Us trade in sale is great, but I found a better deal at Walmart.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think the more people use the higher-limit harnesses and explain to their kids why, the less of an issue it will be. Teach your son to let any comments his friends might make roll off his back. I currently have a seat that is rated til 65lbs FF and DD will be in it til it either expires or she outgrows it. She will not be the only one in her peer group, as many of our friends have similar seats. It didn't used to be popular to keep kids in the back, either, but our kids adjusted and they knew that we simply would not allow small children in the front and risk injury from the airbags. Once it became the house rule, the kids and their friends honestly accepted it.

So...that said Babies R Us often has a trade in event. You can also look online for deals. One of our seats was bought at the end of the year but the two seats are the same model and will expire in a similar timeframe. You are unlikely to find a seat in the $50 range, but you might want to consider the TruFit, which friends have their nearly-5 yr old in: It goes to 65 lbs.

If color is unimportant, you can often find a deal.

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answers from Dallas on

I'm keeping my 4 year old harnessed for as long as possible! We bought the Britax Frontier 85 and I LOVE it!! Worth the money. You could save for it. It is the best $200 I have ever spent. I feel very secure knowing that she's in the safest seat possible.

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answers from Dallas on

My son is 5 1/2 and in Kindergarten and is still in a 5 point harness carseat. He is in a Britax Frontier 85 on my car, and will be until he out grows it at 85 lbs or 57inches. Good luck finding a safe seat for $50, remember this is your childs safety we are talking about. My son knows and will tell people that this is the safest seat for him and that is why he rides in it.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

We have the Graco Nautilus. It functions as a 5 point harness until 65 lbs and then as a high back or low back booster up to 100 lbs. You should be able to find it for about $120 ( I think the retail is somewhere around $180). It's a great seat (excellent safety ratings, my son loves it and there is room in the back seat of the car for other people).

I bought mine at Costco. The down side is it is 28 lbs so I do not travel with it. I travel (fly) with a low back booster (DS is almost 6, 46 " and 46"). However we rarely rent a car at our destination so his amount of time in the booster is probably along the lines of 10 hours a year (this is our first year).

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answers from Dayton on

Unfortunately $50 is not going to buy you a good seat. But yes, we are talking about your child's life.
Best seat, IMO: Britax Frontier. My 6 year old DD is almost 50lbs. 48" and still sitting comfortably in this seat. It is not a baby seat. I really don't know why anyone would go around saying that. Very immature.
It is a seat that is safe. And she has no issues sitting in it. (And she has a HBB in DH's car.)
This seat runs around $200 on Amazon. But it is the last seat you will ever need to buy and very worth it.
Mid range seat: Graco Nautilus. We have this seat too. It is ok. I don't love it but it will at least keep him harnessed. It is smaller than the Frontier so I feel it will be outgrown. I also have a hard time getting it as secure in the car as the Frontier.
It runs around $140.
Hope this helps. Feel free to pm me if you have any Q's. :)

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answers from Seattle on

Safety first! We have the britax frontier which harnesses to 85 lbs then uses the belt to 120, and now my four year old is using it because the older one can use a regular booster with belt. We will never need another seat! Pricey but safety is SO worth it, kids that young are too small and can't sit still right for long enough. Good deals at or new in box on eBay.

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