Below is a portion of an informational email my friend and I put together as so many of our friends kept asking us questions about carseats- the link has a lot of information....basically I'll tell you that I have a 5 year old who is currently in a Britax Marathon in one car and a Britax Regent in the other car...if I could I'd buy the new Frontier carseat which harnesses to 80 lbs and then turns into a great booster that can be latched into the car....after doing lots of research I really feel that the 5pt harness is the best way to restrain a child until they are much older...I don't really care that almost everyone else starts using boosters at age 3 and 4...I know I'm choosing the safest option for my child...my son who is 27months will be rearfacing until he reaches 33 pounds....is it possible your daughter has run out of space in her seat (sounds like it might be a Britax Marathon, Boulevard....)..how about looking the pretty pink Britax Frontier...use it as a harnessed seat for now and then a booster...it looks like a booster as it has armrests and everyone I know loves the pink for their girls....online it's around 235.00 shipped...and it will last her forever...
Anyway,, here's the link and feel free to email me with any more questions or the full email...
The best rule of thumb is:
Keep your child in a carseat till child meets maximum weight or height and has outgrown it (either they will outgrow height limit or weight limit). Whenever they reach the maximum of one of the limits it is time to move them to a bigger seat. After the “infant seat” there are lots of “convertible” carseats that have limits to 65 lbs and/or 49 inches tall.
After the “convertible seat” there are carseats now that they call “youth seats”. They are
bigger and look like a high back booster but still have a 5 point harness. There are several brands that now make these to accommodate up to an 80lb and/or 53 inch tall child. There are also seats that convert from harness to booster. So they go to 80 lbs and then convert to a booster seat accommodating up to 100 lbs.
There is a variety of “High back boosters” that can accommodate a child up to 100 lbs and /or 60 inches tall.
Following these guidelines will help you keep your child safe and ensure they are in the proper carseat/booster based on their weight and height.
Here are some facts why a 5 point harness seat is safer than a booster seat:
* The crash forces are spread over the skeletal body over five points rather than three.
* The crash forces are spread to the strongest parts of the child's body.
* Forward head excursion (the distance the head is thrown forward) are lessened.
* The child is secured in the correct seating position rather than being able to wiggle
around, lean forward etc
In 5-point child restraints, there is also the added safety of the top tether (so long as the vehicle has this feature). The top tether or top strap (as its sometimes called) helps hold the top of the child restraint back against the vehicle. In a frontal crash at 30mph with a car seat installed properly and no top tether, there is a 32" frontal head excursion.
In the same seat, same crash, child restraint installed along with the top tether, you reduce that frontal excursion to 4-6", thus making it more likely that the child will not hit the seat in front of them.
When used correctly, 5-point harness car seats provide significant safety advantages over securing your child in a booster seat using the adult seatbelt. A child is safest in a 5 point harnessed seat. A child should remain in a 5 point harness until they outgrow it.
Here is a great link with detailed information and a video clip of a vehicle crash test video comparing a 5 pt harnessed seat vs a booster seat:
If you want to go straight to the crash test video, here is the link:
Highly Recommended 5 Point Harnessed Seats:
1. Graco Nautilus and it turns into a booster after the harness is outgrown but
is a 5pt until 65 pounds)
2. Britax Regent will harness to 80 lbs and/or 53 inches tall
3. Frontier a great new seat can harness to 80lbs and then can be used as booster to
100 lbs and/or 60 inches tall
4. Britax Marathon is a good seat to harness to 65 lbs and/or 49 inches tall
5. Evenflo Triumph Advance is also great
If you choose to put you child in a booster it is important to choose a HIGH BACK BOOSTER with side impact protection...those LOW BACK/NO BACK boosters are really meant for children age 9 and up....
Here is a study that talks about side impact protection and booster seats and quotes from this article:
· Most of the injuries to children seated in backless booster seats were head
· Possible explanations for non-significant reduction in injury risk for backless
booster seats are that parents may be less likely to use to use the shoulder belt-
positioner that comes with backless booster seats and that high back boosters have a
contoured back that may better contain the occupant in side-impact crashes.
· The risk reduction provided by booster seats in side-impact crashes varied by booster seat
type: 4-to 8-year-olds riding in high back booster seats were at a 70 percent reduction in
injury risk, while those in backless boosters did not experience a statistically significant
risk reduction as compared with seat belts alone.
Booster seats protect against serious injury 3 ½ times better than seat belts. High back Booster seats protect against head injury 4 times better than seat belts.
Here are some links of videos showing crash tests for different booster types:
Video of a no back booster
Video of High Back Booster with deep side wings:
Video of high back booster with shallow side wings
There is a big difference in booster quality...listed below are some good choices...most are available online very reasonably.
This info is from a carseat tech who is the best we've ever found! She states:
Avoid the Cosco/Eddie Bauer ones because they have virtually no side impact protection and they all require high headrests behind them.
Highly recommended Booster Seats:
Sunshine Kids Monterey
Recaro (any of them).
Jane' Indy/Indy Plus
Maxi Cosi Rodi (though it has the headrest rule)
Compass Premier or Deluxe (new names for B510)
Avoid Evenflos (not good side impact)
Graco Turbo is easy to find and ok, but not on my top list of excellent seats (not designed especially for side impacts, plus kids tend to route the belt wrong over the armrests...but it's a lot better than an Evenflo or Cosco!)