The Switch to Booster- What Do You Guys Think?

Updated on February 17, 2011
N.D. asks from Olathe, KS
14 answers

Hi moms!
I'm having mixed feelings. Is there ANY information out there about keeping a child in a 5 pt. vs. a booster seat when they are well over the age/weight requirements? My son is a smaller 7 year old- he is now about 56ish lbs. We are at a time where we need to buy some new kid seats. And I'm really not sure what to do. He has a 5pt. to booster seat- and is now way past the weight limit for the 5pt. (40 lbs.) so we switched it to a booster seat using the car seat belt. My daughter car seat is now 7 years old- so it is expired (I didn't realize that happens til just this week!). We will most likely give her the 5 pt. to booster my son was using and b/c she is 5 and 33 lbs- so she can still use it as a 5 pt harness for a short time. Here is the BIG question: Is it worth the $279 to buy a Britax Frontier or Recaro ProSport that have a 5pt. harness til about 85 lbs. so the 7 year old can still be in a 5 pt. harness? OR are we OK to buy a nice highback booster for about $100 for side impact protection and use the car seat belt? There is A LOT online about not putting a child in a booster too early- but is there any research that says 5pt. till 85lbs and 8 years old is safer than booster??? I have not found any. Wondered if anyone had any insight into this?

I also found out recently that you should not use the latch system after 40-48 lbs! If the car manual doesn't have info then you refer to the car seat manual- either way, you should use the seat belt to secure a car seat or booster after somewhere between 40 and 48 lbs.

If anyone has information and/or links to websites that would be greatly appreciated!!

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So What Happened?

Thank You to everyone who answered!!!!!!!!!! Every single post was helpful in our decision! The links were all awesome! We are going with a booster seat for my son- and letting my daughter use the 5 pt. harness he had til she is ready for her booster seat when she gains some more weight. Now to decide which one!

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answers from Denver on

I would go with a sunshine kids monterey booster. It has good side enforcement and it fits my kids perfectly on the belt positioning. At 7 years old I wouldnt spend a ton of money on a 5pt harness unless you expect him to use it until he is 12

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answers from Detroit on

Britax Frontier 85... check it out online. They are on sale right now for about $200 with free shipping.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

A five-point-harness (and rear-facing) are the safest options for everyone, including adults, but at some point it becomes impractical to use those, and I think you've reached that point. To me, the super-big weight limits on Britax et. al. are a great way to accommodate young kids who are heavy, not older kids who are normal weight. I'm kind of a car seat safety freak (my kids were rear-facing until they were either 2 or 3, my five-year-old is still in a five-point harness car seat because he weighs 33 pounds, my six-year-old was also in a five-point harness until he was well over 40 lbs, etc.) and even I would put a 7-year-old in the appropriate size booster seat that uses the shoulder/lap belt. He not only meets the weight and height recommendations for this, but is at age where he can sit properly for the belt to work in an accident. Sometimes younger kids (ages 4 and 5) are not ready for this because they slouch, etc. but a typical 7-year-old should be fine as a classic high-back booster is designed for exactly this age and size.

Here is some info from regarding "Front Facing and Specialty Models," where several Britax and the Sunshine Kids Radian are categorized:

"Some models are suitable for older kids in vehicles that don't have shoulder belts, or for big kids that are still too immature to ride properly in a seatbelt or booster. Others are designed for children with special needs. If you have a lap-only belt seating position and cannot have a shoulder belt retrofitted, one of these models may work for you."

So it seems that as long as your son is mature enough to sit properly, doesn't have special needs and you have shoulder belts, you should be all set with a booster.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think it's worth it to spend the money on a 5 pt harness booster. We purchased the Britax Frontier 85 for our 5-year-old and she'll be in it for many years to come. We're really happy with it and actually bought one for each vehicle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The CarSeat Lady on Facebook is GREAT! If you have an acct, "like" her page. She provides a lot of great info and I think you can ask her questions too. She is also a pediatrician though, so I know she's one busy gal! (if she doesn't respond to your quest. right away).!/TheCarSeatLady

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answers from Washington DC on

I would just buy a nice non-Britax, highback that will take you to 80-100lbs. I would get the kind that has the seatbelt anchor near the shoulder to help keep it in place.


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answers from Dallas on

For safety reasons I would go for the 5 point harness for each. This is truely the safest place for them to be until they out grown that harness. I would also look at the Sunshine Radian, they are rated up to 80 lbs and are slim lined and very highly rated.

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answers from Seattle on

Hi- Took this from

Usually a child can be moved to a booster when they are too big for a harnessed carseat, and once they are able to sit properly in a seatbelt. A child should be in some type of booster seat until around 8 years old, unless they are already 4' 9" tall (Also see Question 9 below).

As far as I know there is no difference in safety between a harnessed seat and HBB, once your child has met the seat's req's and can sit properly. I bought a Graco Nautilus when my child outgrew his convertible carseat at four. He is five and half and currently using the top slots. Once he outgrows the harness, I see no reason to buy another seat to keep him harnessed longer. We purchased a Graco Turbobooster for Dad's car and he is currently booster training. I would find a good high-back booster at this point. Here's a link to find more great info and hopefully get your questions answered:

Good luck with your decision!




answers from Oklahoma City on

All of ours went into boosters some time when they were 3 years old. The booster allows the seat belt to hit them at the right spot to protect them and they are safe in an accident. If you have concerns then contact your local fire department or health department about the proper way to restrain your child. In Oklahoma they are out of car-seats the day they turn 6 so we would have trained them to sit safely in boosters by the time they were 4-4 1/2 anyway.

My MIL was born in Olathe...she carted ice for her family business and had liquor underneath it therefore the CB handle of "The Ice Lady".



answers from St. Louis on

I had the Britax when my kids were younger. After researching it on the car seat forums with car fit etc, I chose the Graco Nautilus. It is still a bit but considerably less than a Britax. At the time when I was researching it, people had a hard time with fitting the new Britax into their cars. Since I would have to order on line I didn't want to mess with it not fitting. Some Britax owners who also had the Graco seemed to like them equally well. The cover is not as nice as a Britax though.

It is a 5 point that can turn into either a back or backless booster. I can't remember what poundage it goes up to. I know the booster is perfectly safe at this age (as long as your child isn't moving around). I still use the 5 point system and my son is a slim 8. I know I have to adjust my way of thinking to know that sitting in a booster that is held in by kid weight is perfectly safe. I haven't got there yet and he has no qualms about the 5 point because that is all he knows. An added bonus it keeps him from messing with his sister too much.

Your info about the latch is correct. Unfortunately don't rely upon your average store employee to know this. I had a disagreement with a Babies R US store employee on this one.

I think this is the website I researched on

Here are some threads on booster vs 5 point


answers from Kansas City on
This link is to the National Highway Traffic Safety site. I think it will be helpful for the law at least.



answers from New York on

I am having to make the same decision since my 5 year old is about the same size as your 7 year old. He is getting too tall for the harness in his Graco Nautilus even though he is still below the weight limit. I've been looking at the options and there is a Britax high back booster that has a seat belt guide at the crotch. I am leaning toward getting that and moving my about 25 lb 2 year old into the Nautilus since she is also getting too tall for her current seat. I had her rear facing until a few months ago


answers from Minneapolis on

At 7yrs old he's physically and mentally mature enough to sit in a high back booster seat properly and be well protected in a crash. Yes, you could easily harness him but at his age, a high back booster is a very appropriate choice and honestly I wouldn't purchase a harness for a 7yr old unless there were physical or cognitive concerns. A child who is the appropriate age (at least 5) and weight (at least 40lbs) and height is properly protected in a high back booster seat as long as there are no physical or cognitive concerns that would make that child not sit properly in a booster with the adult belt only. Sunshine Kids Monterey, Probooster are both excellent booster seats. We have a Monterey for our 8yr old (he's 60lbs) and it works great, very comfy!

Car seats expire 6yr from date of manufacture. A few are 8 (6 on harness, 2 on booster.) and radians are 8yrs.

Yes, the LATCH is only good to 40lbs on most cars, or 48lbs on some cars.

Most of the harness to booster seats (Cosco Alpha Omega, eddie bauer 3 in 1, Safety 1st 3 in 1, etc) make horrible booster seats and should never be used in that mode. They position the lap belt too high up on the belly and thats detrimental in a crash, they have failed every single crash test they've been in.

The only way I would purchase a higher harness seat for a 7yr old is if you plan on passing to a younger sibling. But honestly I'd probably purcahse a high back for your 7yr old and a new harnessed car seat for your 5yr old, like a Frontier 85 or Nautilus.

My 8.5yr old is in a Monterey (was harnessed until 7yrs old, his choice to move to booster), my 5.5yr old is in a Britax Regent, and my almost 4yr old is rear facing in a First Years Truefit. :0



answers from Kansas City on

I just switched my daughter in December to her high-back booster. Frankly, I had more conerns about side impacts than the harness. The seat belt will protect them when properly installed for frontal collision. I bought the Evenflo Deluxe that has side impact protection. Very reasonable in cost and there's a $5 coupon on the Evenflo web site. I bought it at Target.

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