What's Safer? Booster or Harness Strap Seat?

Updated on June 20, 2011
L.C. asks from Boulder, CO
11 answers

Ok so once a kid meets the height/weight requirements to get them out of the harness strap seat and into a booster (w/ back or w/o) what is the safer option? Is it a booster where the kid uses the shoulder strap or a harness seat? I'm asking b/c the harness seats are much pricier and boosters can apparently be used by children for up to 100lbs. Also the harness ones are much more of a pain in the a** to transfer between cars and carry around etc.


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So What Happened?

So if boosters are such a death trap, why the heck do they make and sell so many varieties?

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answers from New York on

Yes, the harness is safer. I like the Graco Nautilus a lot and have them in both cars, for both kids. It is too big to travel with though. We have a small booster for my 5 year old and a slightly smaller carseat for my 2 year old. You can get smaller or folding seats that travel better.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on


The five point harness seat is safer

edited to add: boosters are not a "death trap" - they're a safe and appropriate choice for children who have the age, size, and maturity to sit properly in them. Many kids who meet the legal minimum to use a booster have not yet developed the impulse control to sit properly for the entire car ride.
This link provides a good overview of appropriate child safety seat recommendations and usage: http://carseatblog.com/9416/confused-about-the-new-aap-ca...

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

They make them because people will buy them. Some people aren't great researcher like these mom's here and you. They are made cheaply and they fly off the racks. They are easier to use and parents are always looking for easier.
Honestly if I could get a 5-point harness for me, I would!! It would suck to get in and out of, but a hell of a lot safer. That's why race car drivers wear them!
The more expensive seats are WEEEEELLLL worth the money. You don't have to get the most expensive (although I would HIGHLY suggest the Britax. Highest weight limits out there and best safety seats). Getting the Graco Nautalus would be my second choice and it's below $200. Although I got my Britax Frontier for $200 even and free shipping. But no matter what seat you pick, the 5-point harness is the best.
****A booster seat is more appropriate for a child 6 and up in my opinion. 5-point is safer, but size a maturity wise, it's appropriate for them. Putting any younger I think would possibly do some damage that could have been avoided with a 5-point. Boosters aren't of the devil, they do provide safety, but are often misused out of convenience or lack of funds.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Here's a video on the importance of keeping your child in a 5-point harness:

My guess is that manufacturers make the boosters because they do offer parents ease when transferring between cars. Parents make the choice of which is more important to them, safety or ease.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

It's a bit pricey but graco nautilus 5 point harness goes up to 65lbs and comes with the booster to 100 lbs. I don't think a child would need up to 100lbs but I don't know. 5 point harness is SO much safer. There are people that have rolled their cars with the nautilus 5 point harness and their child was unscathed. I know they are pricey (5 points in general) but if you can swing it you should. Your fiance's daughter is worth it (I hope so) :D

They aren't death traps lmao. The 5 point harness is just safer, wasn't that your question?

Booster seats sole purpose is to raise the child up so she can fit in the seat belt like an adult. The 5 point harness holds them snug so if the car were to wreck you have either a seat belt or a 5 point harness keeping you safe. I'd rather a 5 point harness. That's why race car drivers wear them and the loop around roller coasters. They are safer.

I'm guessing your fiance's daughter has a car seat, can't you buy one for the other car? You are speculating buying a booster, why not spend a bit more and get another car seat?

Thank you Rachel K, I couldn't agree more. I love knowing my daughter is safe, even if it's a pain moving it from my car to my dad's truck that has those 1 1/2 doors, such a tricky maneuver. But I love knowing my child is going to be safe if something should happen.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm sorry but.....are you serious?

To answer your what happened they make seats that harness to higher weight ex. Graco my ride 65 now if your child outgrows that they are going to need a booster seat if they are old enough and mature enough to get them until they are the height, weight, and age requirement to be in just a Seatbelt that is why they have regular boosters.

The minor inconvenience of switching our graco nautilus from one car to the other is well worth the peac of mind I get from knowing how safe my son is when he's in it vs a regular booster.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Booster - cheaper, easier to transfer
Harnass - WAY, way safer, also, I actually find it easier for my kid to buckle himself properly in a harnass (especially since his seatbelf is right next to the seatbelt that holds his sister's carseat in, and he could accidentally unbuckle her carseat), a seat like the Graco Nautilus (probably the cheapest of the higher limit harnass seats and available for around $125 on sale) can be converted to a regular booster later on and has a 5-6 year life span. The other thing with a harnass seat is that you can leave it be when your kid is not in the seat. Technically, with a booster, when your kids is not sitting in the seat, you should really take it out because in an accident it can become a projectile and seriously injure someone else.

Please consider keeping your child in the harnass longer, if you can afford the seat. I looked into this in depth when my son hit 40 lbs. and I was astounded by how much safer the harnass is. I hesitated at first because I thought my only option was the $300 Britax, but then we discovered the Nautilus. My 5 year old loves the secret compartment and the cup holder and he calls it his "racecar drivers seat".

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

5pt harnesses are safer for ANY age and size. That's why race car drivers wear them. (Well, I think some may wear 3pt harnesses, but I'm not a big race fan, so what do I know?)
The thing is, most "normal car seat" harnesses do have an upper weight limit, and all types of boosters/car seats have height limits. If your child has maxed out either of those limits, then it is safer to go to a regular seat belt.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that anything one of us tells you will just be our personal opinion. Have you looked online for studies on booster seat safety? I also suggest you talk with someone from the fire department. They install seats and are usually trained in types of seats.

Who said booster seats are a death trap. I strongly disagree. I do think that to safely use a booster that uses the cars shoulder harness the child has to be mature enough to stay seated with his back against the back seat. When a person, child or adult, leans forward the harness would be of little help in an accident.

I dislike the comparison of choosing between safety and convenience. Convenience can very much be an important part of safety. You can have the safest seat made but if you don't use it or don't use it correctly it will not be safe.

I want to also remind everyone that each one of us has a very small chance of being in an accident. Choose what you can afford and what you will use. It's nice to have a seat for each car. However, many of us can't afford to do that. In that case getting one that is easy to transfer would be my top priority.

There are boosters with backs that have a 5 point harness. When that's outgrown you can continue to use the back with a guide for the harness or take the back off and just use the seat when the child is mature enough to stay in the seat. This was my daughter's choice and it was easy to transfer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I put each of my grand-kids in boosters from Walmart as they turned 3 and were big enough. My 4 yr. old is currently back in a 5 point harness due to him getting out of his seat and climbing all over while we are on the road...scary.

He fought it the first few days but is used to it now. He is too big for it by weight but not height. We went to a free car seat check and they thought about giving him a new one but his was so well put in the had everyone come over and check it out. The told us it was the first one that day that had been put in correctly. The did caution us that he is going to be too big for the 5 pt. harness before long.

I think if you are careful and pick a seat that fits your child you will be okay. I know many moms are convinced that boosters are the work of the devil or something. I have been in a wreck on the high way going 65 and hit on the drivers side by a drunk teenager. We were safe even though the drivers side of my van was missing. The kids were all in boosters except the newborn who was strapped in rear facing.

Don't transfer, have one for each car and an extra one for family that don't have car seats. My friend had one for each child then had a similar one for the in-laws.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Boosters are not inherently unsafe. For a child of the appropriate height, weight AND maturity they are a fine choice. Think of a booster as asking your child to be responsible for their own safety (are they mature enough to sit properly, not put the seat belt behind them, not unbuckle, etc.), and a harness as you being responsible for their safety (you buckle them and make sure it is tight enough and most kids can't get out of the harness).
Although my child is the appropriate height and weight for a booster she does not have the maturity. I will keep her in her 5-point harness (it goes to 65 lbs) until she is mature enough for a booster.

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