When to Move from Car Seat to Booster.....

Updated on August 19, 2010
C.C. asks from Crown Point, IN
11 answers

My duaghter will be 4 December 24th. My ped told us to try and keep her in a car seat until then. The problem is the car seat is getting snug on her - she is average height and weighs I'm guessing 38lbs?

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answers from Lincoln on

I moved my sons to a booster as soon as the carseat was no longer comfortable for them. I had a carseat that was supposed to accommodate them up to 60lbs, but at about age 3 1/2 they didn't want to sit in it anymore. They were ready, so we moved them to a high back booster and made them feel like "big boys". :-)

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answers from Houston on

They sell car seats that go up to 80 lbs. My six year old is still in a car seat (5 point harness). He uses a Sunshine Radian. My almost four year old is in a Britax which also goes up to 80 lbs. We are keeping them in those as long as possible!

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answers from Minneapolis on

A forward facing car seat is outgrown when one of three things happens; the child goes over the weight limit (if its an older car seat than its likely only 40lbs), the shoulders go over the top harness slot, or the tops of the ears are level with the top of the car seat.

When forward facing the harness should be at or above the shoulders. If she's above the top harness slot she's already outgrown it and needs a new seat ASAP.

She's only 3.5yrs old, she still needs to be in a 5pt harness. Kids aren't physically or mentally mature enough for a booster seat until around age 5/6, and then its best to wait until your child is 50lbs or more so they can properly be restrained by the adult belt.

Here are some higher harness weight seats that will fit your child for quite some time yet, and will also booster so the ywill be the last seat she needs.

Britax Frontier, $300 will harness to 80lbs andbooster to 120.

Graco Nautilus, $150 will harness to 65lb sand booster to 100 (and a no back booster too)

Evenflo Maestro $79 will harness to 50lbs.

Evenflo Generations 65 $99 will harness to 65lbs

These are all three good options for taller children and the bottom three won't break teh bank but are great seats and make good boosters too.

Also moms, be sure to read the manual to your car seat! It explains in detail when the seat is outgrown, both rear facing and forward facing, how to position the harness and your child, and also the weight limits. There are no seats on the market that harness to 100lbs, but if the box says 100lbs its a booster to 100lbs, and only a harness to 40lbs (or 50, 65, 80 if you have an extended harness seat like those listed above). Reading the manual is way more important than anything else when buying a new seat, or even reading the manual to a seat you already own. Everything you need to know is right there if you just read hte manual.

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answers from St. Cloud on

Britax makes what's called Frontier 85 (they no longer make the Frontier). The Frontier 85 is a 5 point harness till 85 pounds! Then can be used as a booster till 100 pounds. We have 2 and both our kids LOVE them! They are 3 and 5 years old.

Albeebaby.com has/had them on sale for $223 if you use their britax sale code.

Also check diapers.com for them! They were running them on sale as well. And if you are a new customer and put in referral code: FRID5486 you get an additional 15% off! Plus you get it in like 2 days! And free returns if you don't like the item! Highly recommend ordering from this company!

Keep her in a 5 point harness. She will be much safer!

PS> Our daughter outgrew her Evenflo Triumph that was supposed to harness till 40 pounds about 9 months ago. (She is also short for her age.) She still doesn't even weigh 40 pounds.....

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Try to find a high-back booster with a 5pt harness that she likes. There are some that go upto 100 lbs. Take her with you and give her her options. My 3 1/2y sat in a backless (she weighs enough) during vacation,, so now that is what she wants, but to me she is still to small for it.

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answers from Chicago on

You need to read or get a copy of the manual for your carseat and see what the max height/weight restrictions are on it....you need to base moving her on that not on what your Dr. says. It is best to keep the child in a 5 point harness as long as possible. There are many seats on the market now that can keep kids in a harness up to 65 lbs. If your seat has a lower weight limit (alot of the older harness seats have a 40 lbs limit on the harness...height depends on the seat restrictions but they are outgrown by height when shoulders go over the top harness slot, or the tops of the ears are level with the top of the car seat.) consider buying something that has a higher weight limit harness that can then be used as a booster. Elaine below has some good recommendations.

I personally did not let my older son sit in a regular booster seat until he was 5. He could not sit up/I could not trust him to sit properly in one until he was that age.

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answers from Dover on

You need to check the ratings for your carseat...they are all different. For safety, you should keep your child in the carseat until she has reached the maximum height or weight for that specific car seat. Then she should move to a belt positioning booster seat. Keep in mind, each state has a law concerning what is legal but there are higher standards for what is safest for the child.

For example, in DE the law says kids through age 7 or 65 lbs must be in a safety seat or booster seat and children over 8 or 66 lbs should be buckled in a seat belt. Kds under 12 years or 5'5'' are not allowed in the front w/ an air bag. So as long as your are using your seat within it's recommended heights and weights you are legal. The office of highway safety recomments that kids under 1 and 20 pounds stay rear facing, over 1 and between 20-40 pounds forward facing, kids over 40 pounds in a booster seat w/ both lap and shoulder strap, and kids should be 8 and 4'9" to just be in a car's seat belt only. Kids are not too tall for the booster until thier ears rise above the seat frame!

I for one, want to go beyond what is legal and do what is safest. I hope this helps you.

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answers from Fayetteville on

your carseat manual will tell you the weight restrictions for your carseat-most are either 30 or 40 lbs. You can find boosters for kids starting at 30 lbs I think-my dd was 40 lbs when we got hers (age 5 1/2) my younger dd is waiting excitedly for her turn to get a new seat. I know when they get that size the car seat starts to get very uncomfortable!



answers from San Francisco on

the best seat for her would be what's called a "Combination Seat" which is a forward facing seat that can be used with a 5-pt. harness and then can be used as a belt positioning booster when the harness is outgrown by height or weight. A typical child will have the size and maturity to sit properly in a booster somewhere around age 5-6.

The Combination seats most frequently recommended by Child-passenger safety technicians for their high height/weight harnessing limits and for positioning the seat belt well as a booster are (listed alphabetically) the Britax Frontier, the Evenflo Maestro, and the Graco Nautilus. Most of the other combination seats on the market (e.g. Cosco/Safety First/Eddie Bauer high back boosters, Evenflo Chase and Generations, and Graco CarGo) either have quickly-outgrown harness height/weight limits (please note that many combo seats that say "from 22 to 100 lbs." will have a *harnessed* weight limit of 40 lbs), position the lap and shoulder belt poorly as a booster, or both.
The Maestro is the least expensive one (about $80 retail), can be used with harness to 50 lbs. It doesn't adjust very tall as a booster so your child would need another booster after outgrowing it.
The Nautilus has a harnessed weight limit of 65 lbs., then can be used as either a high back or backless booster.
The Frontier has the highest harnessed height and weight limits. It also works well as a booster - doesn't convert to a backless but adjusts very tall as a high back so it would definitely last until your child can fit the seat belt properly without a booster (see this link of a CPST's 12YO son in the Frontier http://carseatblog.com/?p=5671



answers from Little Rock on

When the top of your child's head is above the top of the car-seat. There are booster seats that come with a 5 point harness that can later be removed and used with the regular seat belt. I would suggest one of these.



answers from Seattle on

We have the britax marathon convertible seat that goes to 65 lbs, and the britax frontier booster that harnesses to 85 lbs then is a booster to 100lbs! My tall and big 5.5 year old fits in both still. They are expensive but worth it in the long run (you can technically soon buy the frontier and never buy another seat!), and Britax's safety ratings are impeccable. There are good deals usually at albeebaby.com or you can often find them "new in box" on ebay with free shipping.

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