Convertible Car Seat for a 3 Yr Old

Updated on February 24, 2011
K.M. asks from Arlington Heights, IL
8 answers

Hi all - you all were so helpful when I posed this question last year that I'm seeking advice again. I'm in the market for a new convertible car seat for my soon to be 3 yr old who's in the 90% for her weight - she's probably going to be 40 lbs plus this spring! I'd be using this car seat in our 2nd car (4 door 1994 Volkswagen Golf) which given it's age doesn't use the LATCH system. We currently have the Graco Nautalis 5-1 which we love for our everyday car; however we'd like to find something less cumbersome to take on the plane when we travel to Florida next month. The 5-1 is great but wow, was it heavy carting that through the airport terminal! Any suggestions? The previous responses I received last year were thumbs down to the Cosco Scenera and the Graco Comfy Sport which were very helpful since she would have grown out of w/in a few months! I'd like something safe but perhaps not so pricey as the Graco Nautalis though.

Thanks in advance! K. :)

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answers from Champaign on

I would go for the Evenflo Maestro. It will harness to 50 lbs and it is more narrow and lightweight than the Nautilus or Frontier. It also has a much nicer price tag. Every company has recalls, what you want to see is that they fixed the problem and Evenflo did.

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answers from Gainesville on

Given her age she needs to be in a 5 point harness for quite a while yet. 4 is only the minimum age for booster seats. My son didn't have/use a high back Britax booster in our second car until he was over 6. They have to meet the weight/age recommendations along with being mature enough to sit in the seat/seatbelt correctly.

I don't know the price of the seat you currently have. I highly recommend Britax. They have the Frontier 85 which will go harnessed to 85lbs. and then converts to a high back booster up to 120lbs. And with the harness you can use it on the plane. Check it out in the Britax site.

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answers from Chicago on

I would say she is too big/old to buy a new convertible car seat as it will be quickly outgrown. I would go with a high back booster. She could be in a high back booster with a 5-point harness for quite a while longer, I really liked our Graco for a high back booster with a 5-point harness. Or if you don't want to need to buy another car seat after this one, you could do a high back booster without the 5-point harness as I believe the requirements are at least 3 years old/30 pounds. You COULD do a 5 point harness high back booster through the 8 years/80 pounds requirement, but the shoulder strap is typically not as easy/convenient as the ones that come without the 5 point harness, unless the brand new ones are made differently. B est wishes in deciding.



answers from Sacramento on

At this point, you don't need an infant-toddler convertible, so look into a 5-point harnessed forward facing seat... they tend to harness a bit further than the convertible seats and there are some less expensive than the Nautilus (which is what we have, so I don't have a specific rec.).




answers from Chicago on

Hi K. - I don't have any advice on the car seat but I can tell you that I have used safety straps instead of a car seat on an airplane and then added a car seat on to the rental car - that way you don't need to carry the car seat, much easier! You can see the straps on - they are FDA approved.
Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Hi K.,

I have a 3 year old as well, and just needed a new seat recently too. What you want is a "combination" seat, not a convertible seat. This will allow you to use the 5 point harness for some years still before you make the leap to a seatbelt adjuster type booster seat (the combination seat has both options). There were only three that received the top safety ratings (I can't seem to dig up the link, sorry) and of those three, the Evenflo Maestro was recalled. I'm sure Evenflo put a fix on the recalled ones because they are back in the stores, but I still wasn't comfortable buying one, even though the price was MUCH lower than Britax ($70 vs. $250 or so). I bit the bullet and bought the Britax. I love it, and my son loves it, and I try not to think about the price. lol. I know he's safe, and he'll have this a few more years. Good luck!


answers from Minneapolis on

Check out the Evenflo Maestro. It will harness to 50lbs but its taller and I bet she will fit in it, my 5yr old did.

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