Car Seat for Tall Toddler

Updated on May 30, 2010
K.T. asks from Saint Paul, MN
13 answers

My son is not quite 2.5 years old, 39 inches tall, and 32 lbs. He has been in a Cosco Scenera convertible car seat since he was about 6 months old [he outgrew his infant seat!]. I really like this seat, and it does go up to 40 pounds, but his shoulders go above the top spot for the straps and I had to compensate and let more of the belt out. Now he can lean forward and I just don't feel that he is safe. I am wondering what car seats are good for taller toddlers? I want to buy one final seat to last him until he doesn't need a car seat anymore! I'd like a car seat that has a 5-point harness, but can be converted into a booster with a seat belt later. I would be willing to spend around $150-200 IF it will last! Any suggestions? What about the Cosco High Back Booster? Thank you

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answers from Augusta on

I love the Sunshine Kids Radian 65. It's rf up to 40lbs and ff up tp 65lbs. I had a Britax Marathon before this but it's top harness height was lower and my super tall first child outgrew it by his 3rd b-day, though he was only 40lbs. I then moved him to the Britax Regent which lasted him until 6. It's ff only however and is up to 80lbs. (But he outgrew in height, not weight).

The Radian is $200 or less however and you could even use rear-facing if you wish. It does not convert to a booster but boosters are so cheap that it's worth it to get one later. The Radian would last most kids to 6.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My son is a bigger too and I have to tell you that the Britax Frontier 85 Combination Booster Car Seat is absolutely awesome! It has a 5 point harness seat capacity that allows your child to remain harnessed up to 85 pounds or in booster mode to 120 pounds. Also the 5 point harness has 10 height harness positions - up to 20 inches - for those little ones on the taller side. This carseat is worth the money because it'll be the last one you'll ever buy. I checked out Amazon and right now two different color styles are on sale for around $220 which is slightly above your budget, but most certainly worth it!

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answers from Philadelphia on

Graco Nautilus! ohh, and it's on sale at you can get free site to store shipping. This seat was recommended to me from

we have one for my almost 4 year old (still harnessed), and i LOVE it!!!!!!!! The top harness slot height is 18 inches! She's about 39inches tall too, and has alot of room to grow in her harness. This one will last you until he no longer needs a seat because it becomes a seat belt positioning booster, then a backless booster. :-)

"Nautilus is a harness seat, a high-back booster and a backless booster. Because it adapts as your child grows, from age 1 to age 10, you can buy one Nautilus instead of a toddler seat, booster seat and backless booster. One seat instead of three, without compromising on safety. Nautilus is the last car seat you'll ever need to buy.
Graco - Nautilus 3-in-1 Multi-Use Car Seat:
•Extended 5-point harness (use for baby from 20 - 65 lbs.)
•Converts into high-back belt positioning booster (use for baby from 30 to 100 lbs.)
•Converts into backless booster (use for baby from 40 to 100 lbs.)
•3-position recline for proper installation and comfort
•Overmolded arm rests with easy access side storage
•One-hand height-adjustable head support grows with the child
•Features open loop belt guides
•Premium soft goods package with full-body pillow for added comfort
•Includes EPS, energy-absorbing foam
•Machine-washable fabric seat pads
•Can only be used as forward-facing car seat

Recommended Use:
•5-point harness: 20 to 65 lbs.
•High-back booster: 30 to 100 lbs.
•Backless booster: 40 to 100 lbs.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My son too is tall and had the same issue. He is 3 1/2 and around 3 purchased a Graco Nautilus at Babies r Us. (They always have 20% off coupons). Anyway the headrest adjusts to the child height,along with the straps and then when ready the badk comes off to be just a booster. Hope this helps!



answers from Minneapolis on

We have the Graco Nautilus and really like it. I had asked the question about booster seats on this site and most of the moms said the Graco. I have my son in the harness straps which is the safest way to go. It has a back that can raise as needed (we have ours raised a notch already because our son is tall). You can take the straps out we they get bigger and just use the seat belt and then the back can come off for using as a backless booster. What I really love is that is has the teether straps to secure it in the car like a regular car seat (some boosters don't have that). Good luck and get him a new seat fast so he is safe.



answers from Seattle on

For safety and something that will last super long look at the britax frontier, it can be harnessed to 80 lbs. My super tall daughter has been in it since age 3. After 80lbs it's a seatbelt positioning booster. Worth the extra $80, and sometimes you find good deals with coupons at babies r us, or try good luck!



answers from Madison on

The concern is if his ear are above the back of the seat (whiplask risk) - then it is too small. Got that tidbit from my pediatrician. My son is in the same range and is fine in his current Graco with the strap holes below his shoulders.



answers from Minneapolis on

I also suggest the Graco Nautilus. And yes, what you're doing with the Scenera is so unsafe. Please get him into a new car seat quickly. The harness for a forward facing child should at or ABOVE the child's shoulders. Also, being that he is so young, you may not be able to buy him something that will last until he doesn't need a seat at all anymore. Minnesota state law requires that children remain in at least a booster until they are 8 years old or 4' 9" tall, which ever comes LAST.



answers from Lincoln on

My child just outgrew his car seat and I'm going to buy the Graco Nautilus. It has great reviews and is a 3 in 1- 5 point harness, then booster, and then backless booster.


answers from Minneapolis on

I think the Graco Nautilus would work for him. My 7yr old just outgrew the harness on that, and he's 52" tall! It converts to a high back booster to 100lbs, and eventually a no back booster. ITs a GREAt seat for around $150, and your child will be able to expire it easily (car seats expire after 6yrs).

At 2.5, he still very much needs a harness, and he's obviously outgrown the Scenera as his shoulders need to be BELOW the harness slot when forward facing. Get him a new seat ASAP!

Avoid the Cosco High Back booster, the harness height is not much taller than the Scenera so he will outgrow it pretty quickly, and it only harnesses to 40lbs, and he's not ready for the booster yet.

Another one to check out is the Evenflo Generations 65. My friend has two for her 2yr old and 4.5yr old and they are very nice car seats, harness to 65lbs and the nbecome a booster seat. The top harness slot accomidates most kids to age 5/6. its $99, good deal.

The Nautilus will be your best bet though

And just to make it clear, a forward facing car seat is outgrown when one of three things happens; the ears are level with the seat back, the shoulders go over the top harness slot, or the child goes over the weight limit. If even ONE of these things happens, your child has outgrown the seat and it must be replaced at once!


answers from Rochester on

I couldn't say what brand we have, but our son was ready for a booster before he was 3 as well. My in-laws bought a 5-point restraint/convertible booster for us since I thought it would accomodate him with the carseat part a little longer. He was almost 40 pounds and 40 inches by the time he was 3 and I was crushing his little shoulders into the carseat. Unfortunately, the straps on the convertible one we got did not go any higher and we have just used the booster instead. You could double-check with your pediatrician about switching him early, but since he is not quite there for weight it might be a problem. :( I think we have a Cosco one but am not sure. Send me a message if you want me to double-check tomorrow morning. If you cannot find a seat with a regular restraint that fits him, he just might be safer in a booster. You could also measure from the base of the seat back to the top of his shoulders and take a measuring tape to the store and see if any even go high enough. I don't think they do, since most kids are not growing out of those seats by that age. Good luck.


answers from Denver on

We bought a Cosco High back booster and have no complaints so far. Love that the prices are fairly cheap. We bought for my car and put the one I did have in hubby's new car.



answers from Minneapolis on

We have big kids, and our oldest has been in a Britax Regent since he was 2 1/2. (He's now 4 1/2.) Our 2 1/2 year old will soon be in a Regent too. It is suitable for kids up to 80 pounds. You can find them for the low $200s online. We love our Britax car seats!

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