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Booster seat v. carseat for 30lb 4-year-old

August 2006

I have a 30lb 4-yr old, who still basically fits in her car seat. We've been thinking about getting a booster seat. But I'm hestitating because I'm wondering whether I should delay the transition to the booster seat for safety reasons. I'm REALLY looking forward to the ease of the booster, and I've already promised my daughter that we'd get one, but I could delay it if it's really more sensible to stick with the car seat. Discussions in the archives seemed old, and I know rules & thoughts and booster seats have changed since then.


I took our son(4 yrs. old)into Rockridge Kid's where the salesman (red hair) worked with both of us to explain the features of the booster seats including height and weight requirements. It was very supportive for our son to be included in the process. Good luck! pam
I found that a booster is more difficult than a carseat, so don't assume that a booster will be easier (I don't know about the experience of others). Each time I need to position the booster, pull out the seat beat, put it properly around my child and the seat, cinch it up and make sure she's comfortable. It definitely doesn't feel as safe as a carseat too. We ended up scrapping the booster and going to a BIG carseat (a Britax Husky). My daughter can climb up in it herself and put on her straps. When I get to her, all I have to do it buckle the straps up - much easier than my daily struggle with the booster. Just food for thought. Don't like boosters
I believe the law is 4 years AND 40 lbs. So wait until your child is big enough before switching. Donna
Keep in mind that every time you take a step ''up'' in type of carseat -- from rear-facing to forward facing, from convertible to booster, from booster to belts alone -- you are taking a step DOWN in safety.

Boosters sure are convenient, and we have used one in our secondary car and for grandparents' cars and that sort of thing, since our son was about 4 years old and about 40 pounds. But in our primary kidmobile, he is in a Britax Husky (now called the Regent) which is a 5-point harness seat that goes to 80 pounds. A harness is much, much safer than a booster seat, and the smaller the child, the bigger the difference those extra straps and buckles make.

I personally would NOT put a 30-pound child in a booster on anything like a regular basis, even though she is 4. Even at 5 or 6 or older, I would keep her in a 5-point harness if she is still under 40 pounds, and ideally even longer. (That's why we put out the bucks for the Britax seats with higher weight limits. There are a few less expensive ones available now as well.) For that matter, I'd be thinking seriously about keeping her rear-facing at that weight!

Most of the time, sure, it would make no difference at all. But it only takes one bad accident to kill or severely injure a child. The safer her carseat, the better her chances of making it through that accident unharmed. What price convenience? Holly


We were also on the fence with this. Our daugther was tall and thin and barely made the weight cutoff for the booster, and although she was technically big enough the seatbelt hit her just a little too high across the neck area. One thing to check on the carseat is not just the weight limit but also the HEIGHT limit. We opted for a carseat with a taller height limit (Britax Marathon) because she was too tall for the Roundabout. The 5-point seemed so much more secure than a seatbelt and I think the folks at Rockridge Kids told me the same (don't quote me but I think I recall this) Montclair Mommy
The law says that a child must be four years AND forty pounds to use a booster. I think you should tell your daughter that you made a mistake and for safety reasons she needs to stay in her carseat until she's bigger Amanda
OK, nothing scientific or whatever, but: My youngest one just turned four too, and just yesterday I read again that at four she can transition to a booster... (My little tiny daughter??) She also still fits fine her current car seat. And I KNOW that once they're in a booster, you WON'T get the child in a car seat again. She just won't want to, it'll be a struggle. And, a car seat just has GOT to be much safter! Just looking at flight attendants; they always heve the safe 5 point seat belt too, even as adults.. I'm keeping my one in the car seat as long as she fits. I have heard too that in order to go in a booster safely they have to be able to sit erect and not slump Keeping her in
I was in the same situation as you. You should go down to rockridge Kids and talk to Christian - he is awesome! I know his name and this store have been tossed around on this website especially in regard to questions about carseats. We got the Recaro young sport ''booster'' seat. It is new on the market and is on par with britax. It has a 5 point harness until 40 lbs. and then that comes off and you use the seat as a regular booster with the car's restraint system. It also goes up to 80 lbs.! Great side impact protection and Recaro has a great reputation (they do professional race car restrainst systems). The only downside is it will set you back $250.00. If this won't work for you - rockridge kids will find one that fits your needs/budget venus
Check out this gov't web site, http://www.boosterseat.gov/ that has a child seat calculator (age, weight, height). It says ''Children between 20 and 40 pounds should be in forward-facing child safety seats or convertible child safety seats once they are more than a year old'' . It also says that a kid should be in a booster seat until they are 4'9''. So it looks like your kid could be in a convertable seat (I think that is one that changes from a seat to a booster - but I could be wrong). I'd check with Rockridge Kids on college Ave. to see what they have in convertable seats. It might meet your kids wish for a different seat and still be size-appropriate. These sites have info on laws for each state:
http://www.iihs.org/laws/state_laws/restrain2.html
http://www.saferoads.org/issues/BoosterSeatLawChart.pdf
Anonymous
A couple of the previous posters gave the impression that by law you may not move your child to a booster seat until they are 4 years old and 40 pounds - this is not true. Current California law is that children must be secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint (safety seat or booster seat) until they are at least 6 years old or weigh at least 60 pounds. Previously (before 2002), California law required that children 4 years old and 40 pounds ride in car seats. I too recommend Rockridge Kids for advice; they are extremely helpful. I recently purchased the Britax Parkway for my 3 yo daughter. We're still adjusting to it (it's not as convenient as a car seat), but I think it was a good purchase and is one of the safest options out there (apart from the 5-point harness). Had I known 3 years ago what I know now, I would have bought the Britax carseat that allows use of the 5-point harness until 80 pounds (Husky I think?)
Hi - Reading the answers about booster seats made me worry that I was breaking the law - my daughter is 4 yrs, and 35 lbs. and in a booster seat. So I checked at the DMV site - the law is ''car seat or booster seat until 6 years or 60 lbs.'' - thought some other parents would want to know that they aren't breaking the law Berkeley.
A ''convertible'' seat means it can be used facing backwars for infants to 20 lbs./12 months, and then switch to face forwards for 20-40 lbs. I read that the California child restraint law may soon be changing again, to 8 years (or 4 ft. 9 inches). This is more in line with nationally recognized safety standards. So, don't make any promises yet to your 5 year-olds! R.K.
I've been interested in this thread because we switched to a booster when our tall and skinny 3 1/2 year old grew out of her Britax Roundabout and I didn't want to get another huge car seat.

She fits in her Parkway just fine, knows to sit upright, etc. etc. She falls asleep but never falls forward as I was warned she would by an alarmist at a store in Walnut Creek. I've been wondering about my decision until the other night.

You see, I locked her in the car with the car running. She was hysterical when she realized I could not open the doors. We were away from home so I couldn't run into the house and get another key. And it was dark out. I shouted to her through the closed windows to unbuckle the seatbelt, which she did. Then, I was able to talk her into the front seat, over to the passenger door, where I explained how to press the door lock button. It took a few attempts, but she did it! She never would have been able to do that in a 5-point harness Drives more defensively now.


Just a postscript in response to one of the responses... My five-year-old learned to buckle and unbuckle his 5-point harness on his own MUCH earlier than he could manage the regular seatbelt with his booster. I think because the harness buckles are more accessible Keeping the Harness As Long As Possible

Booster seat for 40-lb 4-year-old

August 2006

My daughther has just turned 4 and is almost 40 lbs so I'm in the market for a booster car seat. Please let me know if you have any recommendations on a good model. Also, is High Back or No Back better? I checked the previous postings but they are all pretty dated. Thanks! Marjorie


Check the ratings at www.consumerreports.org. The report on car seats of all types is free -- no need to subscribe Peter
We got a decent one at Target--I can't remember the make, it might be an Evenflo. The thing about the high-back/no back distinction is that shorter kids need the high-back to serve as a seat-belt guide, to keep the shoulder belt in the right place along their body. As kids get taller, the booster seat alone becomes enough to get them high enough so that the seat belt crosses their shoulder, not their neck. Our high-back booster has a detachable back, so if you get one like that, then you can convert to a no-back when the time is right Donna
Have you seen the Freakonomics article about carseats? It says that in terms of car crash survival rates, kids ages 2-6 in carseats are no better off than kids sitting in the backseat (not in a carseat) wearing a regular seat-belt. http://www.freakonomics.com/times0710.php

To answer your question, our 4 year old sits in the Graco Turbo Booster bought on sale from Target. It has a high back. After reading the article above, though, I'd have no problem putting a 4 y.o. in a used booster seat. I suspect that high back or no back is irrelevant in terms of safety. Just a matter of personal preference Stella


Rockridge Kids (on college ave in Berkeley) is a great place to go for car seats. (if you live in COntra Costa COunty it is a very easy stop on your way home on BART) They know a lot about different brands and they are very nice. For our boosters we got the one that has a removable back (might be Graco). Now we mostly use the bottom seat part only for my 6 yr old. We re-attach the back when we will be on a long drive and she could benefit from the side pads to rest her head on. You can also just buy the bottom seat section. We bought one of these bottom seats for about $25 to use to ferry other booster- needing-children around town when carpooling. It is very affordable and way easier than remembering to get the other kid's car seat Anon
re: the Freakonomics article on booster seats -- I just read it, fully expecting to walk away thinking booster seats were a scam. (I have a friend who feels that way about seat belts in general -- that if they're so important and make such a difference, why don't they have them on *school buses*.) However I think their data is a bit flawed.

What I've read about carseats in the past has emphasized belt positioning -- and that's where the Freakonomic data falls down. Booster seats raise the kids up so the belt crosses their laps in a different place -- specifically, it makes sure the belt is resting on the pelvic bones. If the car were to stop suddenly, that's a better place for the belt to be than resting across the soft organs of the belly. (There is an actual term for the kind of soft tissue trauma caused by lap belts on kids: ''seat belt syndrome''.) In their essay they say ''Sensors didn't measure neck or abdominal injuries.'' Well that seems like some critical data to just ignore. The pelvic bones can support a sudden impact *far* better than the unprotected belly organs.

So maybe the seats can't make that much of a difference in a catastrophic car accident (not much can), but it seems like they can make a *big* difference in fender benders isabel


Petite 7-year-old in a booster - her friends aren't anymore

Oct 2005

My daughter is 7 years old and is petite. She weighs 48 pounds and is 46'' tall. She is in 2nd grade. She appears to be the only kid in her class who uses a booster seat in the car. My husband and I insist on it, and want to keep her in it at least until she is 8 years old. This is now becoming an issue socially and is starting to make some things complicated. For example, if a friend is driving with us, the friend doesn't have a booster, but our daughter does. Or if the situation were reversed, we have to deal with making sure we bring the booster for our daughter if she is going with a friend somewhere with her friend's family (which, frankly, has almost never happened thus far). We are not going to give up the booster seat, so I'm seeking advice on how to help our daughter with the peer pressure. Logistical issues are also challenging, frankly. She was invited to join a brownie troop that would pretty much require, due to my husband's and my work schedules, our daughter to carpool with others from school to the brownie meetings. My husband and I are trying to figure out how we would deal with the booster seat issue without embarrassing our daughter. We may just wait a year until it's no longer an issue, but during the next year, things like this are bound to come up. We will not compromise her safety. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
want our daughter both safe and happy socially


You did not mention the style/size of your current booster seat. We had a similar situation last year and handled it by purchasing our daughter a new, smaller booster. (Graco TurboBooster Car Seat, 19.00 at Target). It is basically a seat bottom with handles, so it does not scream ''car seat''. It actually made some of her friends want one themselves because it has two cup holders attached. Gail
I had to chuckle when I read your message because you're not alone. My son is 11 now and we just got rid of his booster seat this summer. He's tall, but very thin, and just doesn't weigh much. I kept his younger sister in her booster longer than she needed to be just so he wouldn't be alone in a booster. Anyway, sometimes my son's classmates were surprised on field trips to see that he still had a booster (in the 5th grade!), but he just answered matter-of factly that he didn't weigh enough and nobody teased him about it. My advice is just to explain to your daughter, and any of her classmates or fellow Brownie Girl Scouts, that everybody is different. Some kids wear glasses, some are tall, some are short, and some don't weigh enough to sit with just a seat belt yet. Kids are pretty astute; they can see that your daughter is small or thin. If you don't make a big deal about it, hopefully nobody else will. Thank goodness my son got out of the booster seat before he started middle school this year! :-) Parent of a skinny child
Good for you! One of your sentenaces was perfert, you have your answer(at least I think). Tell her, we won't compromise your safety, darling. The recommendations are 8 and 80, the law is 6 and 60. And perhaps something along the line, it's our job to keep you safe, we adore you, etc etc. And that gently of course, the other children , right now, are taller and weigh a bit more, so we're going by the recommendation. ''how can we make this better for you''.

I feel for you, I'll be in that situation (I have a son)and a girlfriend is already (with a son, 7 and in the 2nd grade). My friend is just firm and strong in her convictions and won't let him ride if he can't use his booster for any reason (peer pressure included). Hope this helps a little. Keep strong, it would be hard if something happened. Also, my husband is a firefighter, sees his fair share of children going through the windows in car accidents when they are this age because some don't weigh enough. a friend


Tell your daughter she's not alone. My son is 7, and well over 60 pounds . . . but I'm a safety nut, and I told him ages ago that we were going with the AAP recommendation of 8 years AND 80 pounds. So even though he's bigger than most of his classmates in 2nd grade, he still uses a booster seat and most of them don't.

I was worried about the social aspect but, like you, wasn't willing to compromise safety for it. As it turns out, I've gotten more social pressure to ditch the carseat than he has - he can just roll his eyes and explain that his mom's a nutcase (And I thought I had until adolescence for that! s), while I'm dealing with other parents.

The short answer is, she'll find a way to deal with it if it comes up. Because she's small, it's probably easier for her friends to understand, especially if she needs to make it clear that her silly parents are behind it all. They've all got us, you know, and they all think *their* parents are the a) most strict, b) most strange, or c) most of some other thing. safety nut


I think you're losing sight of what's best for your daughter in your zeal for keeping her safe. Your insistence that she remain in a booster seat at seven years old is getting in the way of her gaining independence and growing up, and she will resent you for it. She can't join the Brownie troop because she'd need the booster seat every time they go on a field trip? Ridiculous! Cars have seat belts. Most cars now also have side air bags. Brownie troop leaders drive their minivans with great care. Your daughter is seven now. You need to let go a little bit. As a mother I understand wanting to keep your child safe, but ultimately, we are not in control and life is about risk. Letting your seven year old enjoy the normal, wholesome social life of a second or third grader seems pretty low on the risk spectrum. Mom of an 8-year-old Brownie
My 7-year-old daughter is pretty much the same height and weight and this hasn't been an issue for us. Many of her friends are 20 to 30 pounds heavier than she is and no longer in boosters. But we're very matter of fact (albeit kind) about the whole issue--e.g., ''Kids grow at different rates and your body isn't big enough yet to be safe (or legal) driving without a booster seat.'' When she needs to drive with another family, we just give them the booster seat. She has never complained...has your daughter? I wasn't sure from your post if she was feeling uncomfortable or if you were!: Susan
Our 7 year old girl is about the same size as yours and I also notice that most of her friends are no longer riding in a car seat. ( Really, most of her classmates seemed to be sitting on the seat long before it seemed safe. ) We bought an extra Cosco booster at Targe for $20 that is easier to take along when she rides with someone else, and also serves to boost her friends who I think should still be in a carseat when they ride with me. I just don't budge, if they are not big enough to ride without a booster then they need to use it to ride in my car. My understanding is that 6 AND 60 pounds is the law, but that 8 and 80 pounds is recommended. I'm pretty sure that we will keep my daughter in a booster until she hits 60 pounds unless the law changes. She could be in a booster until 4th grade at this rate! Keeping my girl safe
Most kids here are out of the booster way too soon. In many states, you must be at least 8 years old AND weigh at least 80 pounds. My son used a booster until the end of fifth grade, and was barely over 60 pounds (he just got too tall!) If peers are really giving her a hard time, I have a few suggestions: 1. She can blame her ''crazy'' over-protective parents. 2. When they are in your car, give them the facts - that in many states, they'd ALL be in boosters, and much safer because of it, and that California's law isn't as strict because our legislators didn't consider child safety to be as important as convenience. 3. If the friends are all much bigger than your daughter, say ''Jane will stop using a booster when she's big enough to ride safely without it''. That final suggestion is reason enough.

When booster-less kids are in your car, be sure they are belted in properly with the lap portion low over their hips - not abdomen - and the shoulder belt crossing the shoulder - not against the neck or under the arm. That may be difficult without a booster, of course.

As for logistics - realize that even if you provide the booster to others, not every parent will use it (''oops - we left it on the porch again!'') and/or might not use it correctly. We got a Graco backless booster that is smaller and more portable than the high-back kind. It also looks a lot less like an infant car seat. It is not expensive. We showed our son exactly how it must be belted (and mistakes to watch out for) so he could do it properly himself. R.K.


Stick with it! Children are supposed to be in booster seats until they are at least sixty, perhaps eighty pounds. I am guessing) that most of your daughter's friends are not over sixty pounds, and definately not eighty pounds, which I believe is the new official law in CA. You are being responsible; the parents of your friends are not, and their children are in danger. Seeing as your daughter is petite, you may have to stick with it for a while longer than eight. My daughter is a little small, but she had a friend who was very small, and was in a booster seat until sixth grade, and none of her friends gave her any grief and she didn't mind at all. Safety Before Peer Pressure
As a parent, I understand your stance on the booster. The most important thing is to keep our kids safe.

With that said, I'd like to offer a different perspective. It comes from somewhere deep rooted inside of me. See, I was an extremely petite child (still am a tiny adult). I couldn't go on roller coasters when my friends could, they'd rest their elbows on my shoulders for pictures, I wasn't as strong in sports, I got called all kinds of nicknames like ''half pint'', etc. I didn't so much feel that there was anything wrong with being small, but I hated not being equal with my friends. Anytime something came up where I had to do things differently because of my size, I felt very self conscious and depending on the situation, almost had feelings of humiliation and embarassment. I grew up with those feelings and on occassion can still be a little sensitive about being tiny. When girlfriends say to me ''you're SOOO tiny'' (later realizing many of them meant it as a compliment) I'd get a little defensive and wish I were not so small.

I mention this to you just so you can really understand the depth of the feelings your daughter might have when she has to bring her booster seat along for friends car rides or the other scenarios you posed. I think its a beautiful thing that you posted here to try and find out how to make it easier on her. It really shows how much you care about her and what a good parent you are. Good luck. Karen


You don’t specifically mention how your daughter feels about this. My response is based on my experience as a child of feeling embarrassed when being singled out. If this is not your situation, then you can disregard my response.

Be as responsible as you can be for the consequences of your actions. There is really nothing you can do given your position on this to alter your daughter’s feelings. She is bound to feel embarrassment, shame and humiliation to varying degrees and possibly bullied and messed with and angry at you. Rational explanations regarding safety will not alter in the least the way she feels. Have you ever felt humiliated and had someone suggest that you shouldn’t feel that way and have it make a difference in how you felt? For starters the pain of it is felt intensely and immediately in the body not the mind. Peer pressure is not the place to look. She can see that in this arena she is singled out for whatever reason without any other child saying a word. Maybe she will even make herself wrong for being petite and not love her body. So just understand that these consequences are in play and acknowledge them, don’t resist them. Any resistance you put up to the consequences just make it all more real for her.

I would also suggest your being responsible when asking other adults to drive your child. Explain the situation to them including the piece that they will need to make your child do something she is uncomfortable doing. That way they can decide if that is a responsibility that they want to take on. anon


my 7 yo daughter is also in one (but 80% of the time) and most of her friends aren't. The thing that seemed to click with her recently is that I explained how car manufacturers don't design the seatbelts for kids- they have only designed them using adults; and no cars as of yet have figured out how to install an adjustable- height seatbelt (maybe there's not enough pressure on the manufacturers) Hence, the actual problem/ issue is that car seatbelts just don't fit her correctly yet (and when she has been without one they cut into her neck and she wants to wear it incorrectly so she understands that.)Sometimes we talk about how silly it is and maybe she'll be 10 before she won't need it, and I think she feels acknowleged that it is not about her age and being less ''grown up'' but just about making the seat belt fit right so it can work if we are in an accident. Also we have an extra booster in our car, next to hers and many times her friends who don't use them anymore will just climb into the extra and enjoy the novelty (and better view.) boosting till it fits!
My daughter is 7 years old and is petite. She weighs 48 pounds and is 46'' tall. She is in 2nd grade. She appears to be the only kid in her class who uses a booster seat in the car. My husband and I insist on it, and want to keep her in it at least until she is 8 years old. This is now becoming an issue socially and is starting to make some things complicated. For example, if a friend is driving with us, the friend doesn't have a booster, but our daughter does. Or if the situation were reversed, we have to deal with making sure we bring the booster for our daughter if she is going with a friend somewhere with her friend's family (which, frankly, has almost never happened thus far). We are not going to give up the booster seat, so I'm seeking advice on how to help our daughter with the peer pressure. Logistical issues are also challenging, frankly. She was invited to join a brownie troop that would pretty much require, due to my husband's and my work schedules, our daughter to carpool with others from school to the brownie meetings. My husband and I are trying to figure out how we would deal with the booster seat issue without embarrassing our daughter. We may just wait a year until it's no longer an issue, but during the next year, things like this are bound to come up. We will not compromise her safety. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. want our daughter both safe and happy socially

Booster seats for old station wagon

Sept 2004

Help! We just ''inherited'' a 20 year old station wagon, and would like to equip it with car seats to be a ''second car.'' Our almost 4-year old twins have been using car seats with a 5 pt. harness, and are about ready to transition to the belt- positioning booster. But what kind of booster seats work in the older model bench-type seats with no latch system, etc.?? Thanks for your advice, Debbie


Just how old is the station wagon? Does it have standard lap-shoulder belt combination seat-belts in any of the back seats? If so, you should be able to use almost any standard booster seat. They should not require LATCH system attachments to work. Do be sure you read the manual carefully and understand exactly how to thread the seat-belt - it will vary depending on whether you continue to use the 5-point system or switch to a belt-positioning booster. Do not opt for a backless booster unless your new car has rear seat head restraits or a very high seat back. Be sure you verify the height and weight recommendations of any booster you consider. They do vary. R.K.

Fidgety preschooler in car booster

Dec 2002

My almost 3-1/2 year old preschooler has always been an active kid. Because he recently hit 40 lbs, we switched him from his car seat to a booster seat in the car. Unfortunately, the seat only fits safely on the sides of the backseat, not in the middle, which is where our car seat used to be. For his 3 year old personality--exploratory and constant willfulness--he is constantly trying to play with the buttons and other things on the door. Luckily our car has childlocks, but I worry he will physically pull up the lock button and try to open the door sometime. Also, he's moving around so much--forward, to the side, wherever he can. It's very nervewracking to me, and although I am very firm with him when he does these things, he doesn't consistently listen to me and behave accordingly. I'm sure there are other parents of squiggly willful children who have experienced similar things. Any advice for how to handle this potential safety issue? Thanks in advance. anon


I would take the issue to a qualified car seat safety expert. Just because your old car seat is not rated for chldren over 40 pounds does not mean it is not safe. You need to do the safest thing you can for your child, regardless of what the government has regulated. When my almost five year old gets too wiggly in her booster, I threaten to put her back in the car seat and I would really do it if the threat didn't work. Also, Britax makes a car seat approved for bigger kids which goes in the middle seat and has a five point harness. Good luck, Sienna
I think 3 year old boys are too fidgety for a shoulder harness, no matter how big they are. My son was just as big but wasn't trustworthy to sit safely without a 5-point harness until he was almost 4. It's just not worth risking his safety. Get a booster with a 5-point harness until he's older and can use the seat belt properly! A mom that would rather be safe than sorry!

Booster seats with 5 point harness

2002

DOes anyone have recommendations or information on the safety of the new booster seats with the 5 point harnesses. My 4 year old is still only 30 lbs, and is short, but even so he is too tall for the shoulder straps on his toddler carseat, and Im looking for a new seat for him. I've checked the website, but the posts are all from before these new 5 point seats became available. There are so many different choices, adn I have found nothing rating the safety and ease of use of teh various seats. Any info much appreciated. Ann


Okay, I have read through the carseats section on the website and I think I've read everything that is pertinent to booster seats. We've decided to purchase a Britax elite when we get ahold of one-- we are on a waiting list. Since we'll need two boosters and could use one sooner than later we've been researching what kind to get for the second one, which ultimately, though not initially, will be used less. We've narrowed it down to the COSCO Eddie Bauer Hight Back Booster, the Century NextStep MX toddler/Youth Car Seat or the Evenflo Express Comfor Touch Booster Car Seat. Can anyone recommend one of these over the other and say why? Our first choice was a five point system. We are looking for the most secure and supported booster for our child who is nearing 40 pounds and will soon outgrow his Britax Roundabout (just in time for baby #2 to use it). Thanks very much, Susan Susan
About booster seats: my almost-three-year-old outgrew her Britax freeway quite early -- she's 42 pounds & 42 inches. I talked to lots of folks & researched online and bought a Britax Star Riser booster seat. Consumer Reports really likes the way the seatbelt slips through the guide. HOWEVER -- there is no support for a sleeping child. The headrest isn't sufficient & there's no side support. My daughter easily slipped sideways out of the restraint when she fell asleep and I had to hold her up the whole way back from Tahoe. We then bought a Century Next Step MX, which receives some criticism because some parents don't hook it up right. We love it. It has a tether, which I was used to from the old baby seat. And I find that it's quite easy to hook the seatbelt up properly. We have a ratcheting seatbelt, so you slip it through the guides with the child in the seat, then ratchet the belt so it's taut. You can leave it that way and just belt and unbelt your child as you would an adult. And my daughter has taken some very long car rides and slept quite comfortably. It seems MUCH more secure than the Britax Star Riser. The big benefit of the Star Riser (which we had to keep) is that it transfers easily from car to car, and works just fine when the child is awake. So we use it for babysitter transfers, quick trips in the second car, etc. Sarah
Here is a web site that may help you decide on which seat will work best http://www.carseatdata.org/%5Ccsstats.pdf It gives carseat harness slot measurements. For example you say he almost to tall for the roundabout. He is probubly already to tall for the eddie Bauer highback booster then since the top slots in the eddie bauer are 1 inch lower than the roundabout. If for some reason the linc doesn't work or you want more websites for research let me know. munyab@pacbell.net Also when he reaches 40 pounds he neads to be out of the 5 point harness (until you get the super elite) And did you try Hellers in San Rafael?? I was in there the other day and they had a floor model but I didn't ask if they had them in stock. Melinda
We just purchased a booster seat a few months ago, and ended up with the Britax Star Riser. I called around and visited various stores (Rockridge Kids, Right Start, Cartans...) and the staff told us that there is not a 5 point harness system that has been designed for kids over 40 lbs. (too heavy at that point for current systems), except I guess the Britax SuperElite (correct name?) but that car seat apparently has been on hold for more than a year and didn't look like it would be available before we needed it. And, we also heard that the SuperElite is a very large booster seat, and we didn't think its size would do well in our car. We also considered the Century Next Step because it had a 5 point harness (we were also looking for that...) but even with that car seat you'd have to switch to the shoulder belt once the kid is 40 lbs, and ours was already at 38 lbs. Anyway, we've been happy with the Star Riser, it seems comfortable and I liked the way the head support is adjustable and keeps rising as the kid grows. Though if our child falls asleep, it doesn't hold her up like the Roundabout did. Suzanne
We would like to get a booster car seat rated for 35-80 pounds that also has a five point restraint (since my son is only about 37 pounds right now). (I guess I'm looking for a hybrid car-seat /booster seat) There's not much on these on the web site. Does anyone have any recommendations about which ones are good? (in addition to safety, I'd love one where the straps don't tangle, it's not hard to adjust the straps, and its comfortable for the kids to take naps in while in the car)? Also, any recommendations about where to buy it would also be appreciated. Thanks much. Karen
Britax is coming out with a new youth seat. Here is an excerpt from their web page (www.Britax.com):
COMING SOON!
Forward Facing Youth Seat Age: 1 to 8 yrs old
Weight: 22 ! 80 lbs Height: 27v to 53v
Fabric Cover Style: Sapphire, Burgundy Check
Finally, a 5-point harness child seat up to 80 lbs! Four adjustable shoulder
heights provides a more secure fit as your child grows. The Super Elite is 
made of
strong Roto-Molded polymers and allows your child to continue using the 
5-point
harness longer than most other restraints.
The innovative Versa-Tether provides additional installation stability and 
minimizes movement
f your childFs seat in the event of an impact.

The Super Elite can be used with either a lap belt or a lap and shoulder belt combination. This allows you to use this child seat in any forward facing, rear vehicle seat. Easy and convenient One Pull Harness Adjuster Strap makes securing your child fast and safer each time you travel. The major negative I see is that it is too wide to take on air planes. I also don't know when it is due out. The thickly padded cover and extra comfort foam, makes travel even more comfortable.

BergaHoo Family
I bought a cosco-made, eddie bauer edition of a child booster seat that is for 35-80 pounds. it is a five point restraint, very comfortable seat in tan and navy blue. also, it has the buckle clip across the chest rather than the (how do i describe it??...) the one where the straps slip in and under a little latch. this really helps in the tangling aspect. Brooke
You may want to look at the Cosco Alpha Omega car seat/booster. It works for kids 5-80 pounds. Make sure it fits properly in your car--it apparently doesn't work in some. Hardin

Graco vs. Britax

2002

Does anyone have experience with the Graco turbo booster AND the Britax boosters? I'm trying to decide which one to get for my 3 year old and would love to hear a comparison, partucularly on safety and comfort. Thanks in advance for any info. anon


Note: see also Britax booster seats
I asked this same question about two months ago and got a number of responses by private email. So first, a thank you to those who responded to me and a suggestion that folks send their replies to the list as well as privately.

I wound up choosing the Graco turbo-booster for a number of reasons. The cheaper price was not one of them since my insurance company was paying, but they do cost about half as much.

First, for the Britax, if you want to adjust the height you have to unzip the cloth covering in the back. The Graco can be adjusted with one hand, though I do have to physically pull it forward a little in my car to get the right angle. The bottom cloth cover on the Britax is not removable for washing. The Graco has larger, more comfortable head rests and the two retractable cup holders. The design is basically the same so the two are comparable saftey-wise. Both seats recline though that may be more a function of the shape of the carseat. I think the Britax was slightly narrower, which is an issue for us since I very recently had a baby and fitting all three kids in the back is a squeeze.

One thing to look for on the Graco-- some of the turbo-boosters have ''deluxe'' padding. This isn't marked on the box. The one's that have the extra padding have padding on the armrests. I bought one of the deluxe models at Baby Depot in Hayward for the same price as the non-deluxe was being sold for at Target. I also saw the regular model for ten dollars cheaper at Toys 'R' Us in Hayward.

You can check out which model is which, and the available designs, at their website: www.gracobaby.com . Basically, I think Graco pretty much ''stole'' the Britax design, improved it slightly, and made a cheaper version. Sophie


Just wanted to respond to recent recommendation for booster seats. We have the Britax booster seat which I mostly like- easy to take in and out and folds easily for storage when not in use. The last poster said that the bottom seat cover is not removable for washing. This is not correct - I have removed it many times to wash. There is a gentleman at Baby World on Piedmont Ave who is very helpful explaining how to use booster seats if you don't understand those interminable instructions booklets! M. Simon
The fact that two boosters' design looks identical does NOT mean they are equal safety-wise. Every Britax is tested for side impact. None of U.S.-made boosters is tested for side impact. It may protect your child if you're lucky. Britax has tested to be able to protect your child.

Also, we all know we should throw away a car seat 6 years after it was manufactured, because nobody guarantees the plastic will hold in an accident. This is the same rule - nobody guarantees your U.S.-made seat will hold if your car is hit on the side.

Moral of the story: Shape of the seat communicates but an image of safety.

Britax-specific comments:

If you were looking to be able to adjust the height of the booster with one hand, you should have looked at Roadster, not StarRiser.

Seat-width-wise: Roadster is of comfortable width up to 10-years- old; StarRiser's width is adjustable so it can grow with your child.

Given that car accidents are the leading cause of death in 7-10 years old (mostly from properly-buckled rear-seat seat belt cutting through internal organs of a child), it is necessary to use booster seat until your child is at least 100 lbs. Roadster is tested to do it.

Note: I'm not a Britax salesperson, I just did all the possible research on this issue. Maria


I don't mean to put a wrench in your plan but there is also a new Britax coming out soon called the Marathon. It is supposed to be like the Roundabout but a little taller and they are waiting for the weight rating, but they are thinking it will get passed for 65 pounds. It would also fit in an airplane where neither of the other ones are. I am also torn on which to buy I am between the Marathon and the Husky. Also you said your daughter is petite She can stay in her current seat Which i am guessing is a roundabout until she is 40 pounds and until her shoulders are above the top slots. Best to check this when the cover is off as the cover tends to slip down. Or until the tips of her ears reach the top of the seat.whichever comes first. The 40 inches they write on the seat is just a rough estimate to go by since some children's height is all in their legs and others in in their torso. I would also suggest keeping her in a 5 point harness for as long as possible a large amount of safety is lost when you graduate to a belt positioning booster to soon. anon
We have ended up with both the Star Riser and the Super Elite booster seats! Initially I bought the Super Elite for the reasons you mention - lighter and back is removable. But, it was difficult for my daughter to buckle it and unbuckle it herself and it was much less supportive of her whole body as compared to the Britax five point Roundabout she had graduated from. So when my name (finally) got to the top of the list for the Super Elite, I bought one of those thinking I would sell the Star Riser. The Super Elite is like a blown up version of the Roundabout. It meets all of our needs except 1)it is impossible to back out of a parking spot on upper Solano if it is placed behind the passenger seat because it is SO big and 2)it is too huge to travel with. In the end, we kept the Star Riser and use it for easy in and out in our second car and for checking on the airplane when we fly (which has turned out to be frequently this year). (It is my understanding that neither is approved for use on the airplane.) Except for the $$(!), we are quite happy with the outcome. Of course, with time my daughter can buckle and unbuckle just fine. We also have an almost three year old, so will probably graduate her to the Super Elite when she turns four and let the older use the Star Riser for every day. Good luck Laura
I own a baby store that sells both the StarRiser and the Super Elite/Husky. The Husky is a great seat, but many people are surprised at how big and heavy it is. I would not recommend it if you plan to move it between cars on a regular basis. Another complaint we hear about the Husky is that the chest clip is just designed to hold the shoulder straps in place (but not meant to withstand the force of a crash), and some kids can easily undo the chest clip themselves. The Husky is also not approved for airplane use (it is too wide).

The StarRiser is a great seat, but your child needs to be mature enough to sit correctly in a booster seat with an adult seat belt (i.e. does not put the shoulder belt behind them). It is lightweight, and reclines to fit the contour of the seat.

Another option from Britax coming out this Fall is the Marathon, which is like the Roundabout, but uses the 5 point harness up to 65 pounds, and is approved for airplane use. Many of our customers are choosing this option over a Husky, as the 65 pound limit should keep most kids in a 5 point harness until they are around 6 years old.

Good luck - both the seats you mentioned are great choices! sherry


Rockridge Kids says that the Starriser Comfy is the best on the market now. The Husky is supposed to be available at the end of the year, but they said that that's not dependable, since the Super Elite (which is now off the market) wasn't actually available until three full years after the date when Britax said it would be! I trust Rockridge Kids implicitly, so we bought the Starriser Comfy and will hope to upgrade to the Husky if it comes on the market before our daughter outgrows it! Lauren

Jupiter Komfort Kruiser

April 2005

Hi everyone, I'm shopping around for a booster seat and am interested in these three booster seats: Compass B500 Foldable Booster, Jupiter Komfort Kruiser, and Recaro Start Booster. I'm looking for feedback (positive or negative) from anyone who actually has any of these three car seats. OR, if you have a booster seat (which I haven't listed) that you love, I'd like to know which brand and why you like it. Thanks!!


We bought the Jupiter Komfort Kruiser because it was very well rated and from what I'd read it sounded like it would be good for our son who often falls asleep in the car (it has a molded head rest on either side). On the plus side: it's very lightweight, really easy to use, seems very comfortable, my son loves it, it tests really well for safety. On the minus side (and this may be true of all the boosters, i wouldnt know since we've only had this one): the second he falls asleep his head is lolling all over the place, folding over onto his chest and otherwise looking really uncomfy (not that any of that wakes him up, it just makes me crazy as I reach back to try and adjust him every couple minutes). If sleeping in the car isn't an issue, it's a *great* booster seat. isabel

Recommendations 2002

I's time for my son to graduate to a booster seat. I would like a recommendation of which seat I might get. Do any recline as with infant seats (for a sleeping child)? Which features do you/your child like?
There is also a new Britax coming out soon called the Marathon. It is supposed to be like the Roundabout but a little taller and they are waiting for the weight rating, but they are thinking it will get passed for 65 pounds. It would also fit in an airplane where neither of the other ones are. I am also torn on which to buy I am between the Marathon and the Husky. Also you said your daughter is petite She can stay in her current seat Which i am guessing is a roundabout until she is 40 pounds and until her shoulders are above the top slots. Best to check this when the cover is off as the cover tends to slip down. Or until the tips of her ears reach the top of the seat.whichever comes first. The 40 inches they write on the seat is just a rough estimate to go by since some children's height is all in their legs and others in in their torso. I would also suggest keeping her in a 5 point harness for as long as possible a large amount of safety is lost when you graduate to a belt positioning booster to soon.
We have ended up with both the Star Riser and the Super Elite booster seats! Initially I bought the Super Elite for the reasons you mention - lighter and back is removable. But, it was difficult for my daughter to buckle it and unbuckle it herself and it was much less supportive of her whole body as compared to the Britax five point Roundabout she had graduated from. So when my name (finally) got to the top of the list for the Super Elite, I bought one of those thinking I would sell the Star Riser. The Super Elite is like a blown up version of the Roundabout. It meets all of our needs except 1)it is impossible to back out of a parking spot on upper Solano if it is placed behind the passenger seat because it is SO big and 2)it is too huge to travel with. In the end, we kept the Star Riser and use it for easy in and out in our second car and for checking on the airplane when we fly (which has turned out to be frequently this year). (It is my understanding that neither is approved for use on the airplane.) Except for the $$(!), we are quite happy with the outcome. Of course, with time my daughter can buckle and unbuckle just fine. We also have an almost three year old, so will probably graduate her to the Super Elite when she turns four and let the older use the Star Riser for every day. Good luck Laura
I own a baby store that sells both the StarRiser and the Super Elite/Husky. The Husky is a great seat, but many people are surprised at how big and heavy it is. I would not recommend it if you plan to move it between cars on a regular basis. Another complaint we hear about the Husky is that the chest clip is just designed to hold the shoulder straps in place (but not meant to withstand the force of a crash), and some kids can easily undo the chest clip themselves. The Husky is also not approved for airplane use (it is too wide).

The StarRiser is a great seat, but your child needs to be mature enough to sit correctly in a booster seat with an adult seat belt (i.e. does not put the shoulder belt behind them). It is lightweight, and reclines to fit the contour of the seat.

Another option from Britax coming out this Fall is the Marathon, which is like the Roundabout, but uses the 5 point harness up to 65 pounds, and is approved for airplane use. Many of our customers are choosing this option over a Husky, as the 65 pound limit should keep most kids in a 5 point harness until they are around 6 years old.

Good luck - both the seats you mentioned are great choices! sherry


Rockridge Kids says that the Starriser Comfy is the best on the market now. The Husky is supposed to be available at the end of the year, but they said that that's not dependable, since the Super Elite (which is now off the market) wasn't actually available until three full years after the date when Britax said it would be! I trust Rockridge Kids implicitly, so we bought the Starriser Comfy and will hope to upgrade to the Husky if it comes on the market before our daughter outgrows it! Lauren
About booster seats: my almost-three-year-old outgrew her Britax freeway quite early -- she's 42 pounds & 42 inches. I talked to lots of folks & researched online and bought a Britax Star Riser booster seat. Consumer Reports really likes the way the seatbelt slips through the guide. HOWEVER -- there is no support for a sleeping child. The headrest isn't sufficient & there's no side support. My daughter easily slipped sideways out of the restraint when she fell asleep and I had to hold her up the whole way back from Tahoe. We then bought a Century Next Step MX, which receives some criticism because some parents don't hook it up right. We love it. It has a tether, which I was used to from the old baby seat. And I find that it's quite easy to hook the seatbelt up properly. We have a ratcheting seatbelt, so you slip it through the guides with the child in the seat, then ratchet the belt so it's taut. You can leave it that way and just belt and unbelt your child as you would an adult. And my daughter has taken some very long car rides and slept quite comfortably. It seems MUCH more secure than the Britax Star Riser. The big benefit of the Star Riser (which we had to keep) is that it transfers easily from car to car, and works just fine when the child is awake. So we use it for babysitter transfers, quick trips in the second car, etc. Sarah
Here is a web site that may help you decide on which seat will work best http://www.carseatdata.org/%5Ccsstats.pdf It gives carseat harness slot measurements. For example you say he almost to tall for the roundabout. He is probubly already to tall for the eddie Bauer highback booster then since the top slots in the eddie bauer are 1 inch lower than the roundabout. If for some reason the linc doesn't work or you want more websites for research let me know. munyab@pacbell.net Also when he reaches 40 pounds he neads to be out of the 5 point harness (until you get the super elite) And did you try Hellers in San Rafael?? I was in there the other day and they had a floor model but I didn't ask if they had them in stock. Melinda
We just purchased a booster seat a few months ago, and ended up with the Britax Star Riser. I called around and visited various stores (Rockridge Kids, Right Start, Cartans...) and the staff told us that there is not a 5 point harness system that has been designed for kids over 40 lbs. (too heavy at that point for current systems), except I guess the Britax SuperElite (correct name?) but that car seat apparently has been on hold for more than a year and didn't look like it would be available before we needed it. And, we also heard that the SuperElite is a very large booster seat, and we didn't think its size would do well in our car. We also considered the Century Next Step because it had a 5 point harness (we were also looking for that...) but even with that car seat you'd have to switch to the shoulder belt once the kid is 40 lbs, and ours was already at 38 lbs. Anyway, we've been happy with the Star Riser, it seems comfortable and I liked the way the head support is adjustable and keeps rising as the kid grows. Though if our child falls asleep, it doesn't hold her up like the Roundabout did. Suzanne
Regarding the Britax Star Riser booster seat and the napping problem: We drive a mini-van and during our last road trip we reclined the van seat one notch. This angle kept our son from flopping forward or to the right as he had been when he was completely upright. I'm quite certain that this did not compromise his safety as the seatbelt remained in the proper place. Now we feel much better about this booster. Mary

Booster seat in the front seat?

Nov 2002

Hi, my husband has been putting our six year old in the front seat in his booster. Sometimes I'd like to put the baby in front in her infant seat so I can see her. We don't have airbags so is this unsafe...or only marginally less safe than being in back? Leah


While it's not illegal to have a child in the front seat, it's not recommended--even for cars without airbags in front. In an accident, there are too many things that can go wrong for a child in the front seat. You might consider buying an infant mirror that lets you see a child in a rear-facing car seat. The California Highway Patrol has good information on what the law says about car seats and what is recommended. The CHP's car seat info is on the Web at http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/safetyseats.html. Gwynne
I cringe every time I see a baby or really young child in the front passenger seat of a car. There is a reason that seat is commonly known as the ''death seat''. In an accident the person in the front passenger seat is more likely to sustain the worst injuries. Please put your children in the backseat! Maya
Having rotated through an emergency room in medical school and in my residency, I can tell you that, air-bag or not, the seat that seems to suffer the most casualties is the front passenger seat. Leave the kids in the backseat, say I, and, as an aside, I would not allow a child under 3 to eat in the backseat because of choking issues. Backseat only anon
Check with CHP or police. While they won't encourage you, they may tell you of one that is stronger than the others, however I don't believe any of the current models passed safety tests done with air bag collisions, especially with front and side bags combined.

It has been recommended over the past few years that even small adults not sit in the front seat because of the harm an air bag can do, (small children risk the danger of smothering more than anything else).

My eight year old is constantly mad at me for not letting her sit in the front seat. Her friends get to in their cars so she feels I'm being unfair. I just tell her that they aren't my only daughter and I'm not willing to take the risk. Having a husband who works for a police department who has seen the results of car seats in the front combined with air bags and front end collisions has kept me firm on this issue. Until she is as tall as I am, she sits in the back, but only because of the air bag issue. She no longer needs a car or booster seat.

However, if a legal car seat can be found that can keep a child safe despite the air bags, I would be interested in knowing which one it is as well. I have a lot of friends who have multiple small children and small cars which they can't afford to replace, but they could afford a better, safer car seat. And it would also make a thoughtful baby shower present. marianne


The safety of the child in the front seat relies on how the seatbelt functions, not on the booster seat.

This is what one alert said: The seatbelt in many cars can function improperly when children are restrained by them. Many of these belt systems are inertially loaded, i.e., the passenger must move forward at a given force before the belt system will lock and then restrain the passenger. In this case, the restraint system allows forward motion of small children during the crash, thereby bringing the child's face in close proximity to the deploying airbag. Due to the high speed with which airbags are designed to deploy, the child's head will rotated posteriorly after making contact with the deploying airbag and this motion resulted in a a small subdural hematoma and diffuse axonal injury.

Since a booster seat uses the car's seatbelt to restrain a child, no booster seat can be safe. Best thing is to have your passenger side airbag disabled. susan


There is no safe booster seat for use in the front seat if the airbag cannot be turned off. Even with the new two stage airbags, the risk to the child to too great. Try contacting your car's manufacturer and/or the makers of booster seats and ask if they would recommend such usage. I doubt that they will. There are lots of good booster seats out there, but they don't all fit all cars. If possible take your car to the store and try installing the booster (in the back seat) and see if it works before laying out the big bucks. Hope this helps. Brian
Please do not consider putting a child seat -- or god forbid a rear-facing infant seat -- in the front of any vehicle with an airbag. Airbags can save lives when people are seated and belted properly. But they are not designed for children, and really can kill kids. That is why such strong warnings are in the cars. Even a front-facing child seat can put the child too close to the module when it explodes, which is very dangerous. So please heed the warnings. Kids under 12 should be in the back seat in all airbag equipped cars. No exceptions. Ever. Anonymous
After reading the discussions regarding airbags and booster seats, I'd like to add the following. I read at one time, (I think Consumer Reports Magazine) that all airbag injuries/fatalities to small persons have occured in American made vehicles. These airbags deploy at significantly higher velosities than cars manufactured in Japan. As a very petite woman, this topic is one that I am personally concerned with and have been following. Several years ago, I opted to go with a Honda- whose airbags have never killed anyone. Helene

Booster seats - general info

We were in a car accident with a seat-only (no back) booster seat. IT was the kind with an arm that folded over the lap. The shoulder belt then held the seat and arm in place, and gave some shoulder protection. My child was 4 at the time. HIs younger sister was in a regular car seat. The driver (not me!) fell asleep, and the car rolled over at freeway speeds. My daughter was completely uninjured as was her car seat. My son had a large bump on his head, where his head hit the window. The booster seat was completely twisted out of shape, and unusable afterwards. I'm sure the booster seat saved my son's life, but we put him back in a large standard car seat until he totally outgrew it at 5 (and he went willingly). When our younger son was ready for a booster seat, we got the one that has a back, too. Fortunately, we never crash tested that one! (Dec 1999)
I purchased a Roadster Britax booster seat online at www.rightstart.com. It has a back that collapses down and folds inside the base. It also has a cord loop attached to the bottom of the base that you can use to carry it. I just checked their website and for some reason the seat is no longer showing up in their selection of items (I plan to do some research to make sure it wasn't recalled). The seat cost $119.95 and I got 20% off with free shipping and no tax several months ago by using an American Express card. (Dec 1999)
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