Pre-School

How long in a 5-point harness??

My daughter turned 3 a couple of months ago and is still in her convertable carseat.  We are debating whether to invest a high back booster with 5 point harness or just to keep her in her convertable for a few more months and then more her to a booster with seat belt.  How long do kids actually fit in a 5 pt harness booster?  When is it normal to move to a seat belt booster?  I know what the manufacturer says, but didn't know what is "normal" or what other people do.

Re: How long in a 5-point harness??

  • I have a Britax fontier. It is good up to 85 pounds as a 5-point harness.

    I think 4 is too young for a booster, particularly if you kid tends to sleep in the car.

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  • The minimum for a booster with seat belt is 4yrs and 40 lbs. That's the law where I live, and I believe in most other states. We have DD1 (who will be 3 next month) in a Graco Nautlius. It harnesses to 65lbs, then converts to a high back or backless booster. We will keep her harnessed for quite a while yet. I don't think that at 4yo she will be mature enough to always keep the seat belt on the correct way, so until I am absolutely sure we can trust her to do that, she will be harnessed. Probably until she is at least 5yo, maybe until she hits the 65lb harness limit.
    Mama to two sweet girls
    DD1 Feb 2010
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  • There is no advantage to moving her from a convertible to a harness/booster combo seat as long as she has not outgrown the convertible. It is not outgrown until the stated weight of the convertible is outgrown, or until her shoulders are above the top harness slot, or until the tops of her ears are above the top of the shell of the convertible seat. If she has not outgrown the convertible, save money and keep her in it until she is READY for a booster, and then buy a dedicted high back booster.

    Booster readiness is a lot more than age or weight, though pp is right that 4 years and 40 pounds is the MINIMUM. They also must be mature enough not to lean forward, slouch, reach for toys, put the belt behind them, or fall asleep and thus out of position. An improperly used booster is FAR less safe than a harness, so don't make the move too soon. For most kids that means at least 5 to 6 years.

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  • As long as possible.  DS just turned 5 and is still in a 5 pt harness (Britax Frontier) and we have no intentions of putting him in a different seat any time soon.  
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  • one of my dds outgrew her convertible (shoulder straps) a couple months ago...we got 5 point harness boosters...I plan to keep them in there until at least 5.
  • We only bought/moved DS into a 5-point booster because DD came and has out grown her infant seat. She is getting his carseat, he is now in a "booster" but it's a high back with 5-point harness. I have zero intention of taking back of booster off or just using a seat belt. I have no clue when that will happen, it's just too far in the future for me to see.

     So I guess my question to you is, why are you thinking about getting a new seat? Just for "fun" sorta feel like LO is "outgrowing" it or do you need that carseat for another child or some other reason? If DD didn't come around, I wouldn't spend the money on a different seat. Yeah safety, but more so because I'm cheap and don't want to buy a seat that I wouldn't need.

  • Get the best seat you can for what you need at the time which is almost always a convertible and not a booster type. Depending where you live it can be common to switch them early, even in NJ we have a law to keep them in something until 8yo or 80lbs and rearfacing until1 but does not specify what happens when inbetween so most people I know move their kids too quickly out of 5pt and even out of a harnass. Keep them in a 5pt as long as you can, my kids safety in the car is not worth a 100.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • The absolute bare minimum to move to a seatbelt booster is 4 years and 40 lbs. But, the most important factor in determining if a child is ready for it is their maturity. They need to be able to be trusted to sit correctly (if they move out of position the seatbelt won't help them in an accident), not slouch, not unbuckle themselves, not lean over to pick up a dropped toy, not put the shoulder belt behind their back. And be able to stay upright while sleeping (a high back booster provides better support for that). There are a very few mature 4 year olds that can do this, many kids can by 5 and the vast majority of kids are ready by 6. Prior to 4 their pelvis is not developed enough to hold them in a booster properly in an accident and they're at risk of submarining under the seatbelt because their hips aren't formed enough to hold them in.
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  • image fredalina:
    There is no advantage to moving her from a convertible to a harness/booster combo seat as long as she has not outgrown the convertible. It is not outgrown until the stated weight of the convertible is outgrown, or until her shoulders are above the top harness slot, or until the tops of her ears are above the top of the shell of the convertible seat. If she has not outgrown the convertible, save money and keep her in it until she is READY for a booster, and then buy a dedicted high back booster. Booster readiness is a lot more than age or weight, though pp is right that 4 years and 40 pounds is the MINIMUM. They also must be mature enough not to lean forward, slouch, reach for toys, put the belt behind them, or fall asleep and thus out of position. An improperly used booster is FAR less safe than a harness, so don't make the move too soon. For most kids that means at least 5 to 6 years.

    It's actually a fallacy that it's unsafe to sleep in a booster. I slept in the car through HS, so that's sometimes unavoidable! That said, a good, supportive high back booster as long as possible is recommended since it will help the child stay in position while sleeping. My 5.5 year old sleeps in her britax parkway and uses the headwings and pillows and does not end up out of position at all. It's all about the right seat. She doesn't sleep well in a backless, which we use for around town and quick trips but won't use for long trips until she outgrows the back on her britax because she needs the sides for support while sleeping.

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  • Most states don't allow the booster until age 4 so check your states laws on this.

    My own personal experience - it all depends on your child.  Height based on when they sit in the seat and where the shoulder strap sites is huge, general height is hard to go by as some people have long legs and short torso or vice versa.  We moved the girls sometime after they turned 4 into a highback booster.  I have friends that have kept their kids in 5 point until close to 5 or even 6.  I plan to use the highback part of the booster for a while yet (even though my 6 1/2 year old is tall enough to go without, I like the head piece for extra protection).

    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
  • Our son will need the convertable carseat in 6-8 months (he's only 10 weeks now), so we know we will need to buy her something sooner or later.  We didn't know if we should spend the money on a 5 pt  booster or if we should get the cheaper high back booster with a seat belt.  If she was going to outgrown the 5pt harness booster in 6 months or so, we didn't want to spend the extra money. 

    I swear we're not as cheap as we sound, haha, just unsure of the rules and what is typical.

    FYI, the Graco 5pt boosters say that you can use them with only the seatbelt at 30lbs, so that was what I was going by. Our daughter is only 35.5 inches and 28lbs now, though.

  • image wintertime_love:

    Our son will need the convertable carseat in 6-8 months (he's only 10 weeks now), so we know we will need to buy her something sooner or later.  We didn't know if we should spend the money on a 5 pt  booster or if we should get the cheaper high back booster with a seat belt.  If she was going to outgrown the 5pt harness booster in 6 months or so, we didn't want to spend the extra money. 

    I swear we're not as cheap as we sound, haha, just unsure of the rules and what is typical.

    FYI, the Graco 5pt boosters say that you can use them with only the seatbelt at 30lbs, so that was what I was going by. Our daughter is only 35.5 inches and 28lbs now, though.

    Yeah, what they advertise on the carseat boxes is a little misleading. Many boosters are "approved" for 3 years, 30 lbs. That doesn't mean they're safe for a 30 lb 3 year old unfortunately. They're safe for the rare huge 3 year old who doesn't fit in a harnessed seat (not a problem you see often now, but when my 5.5 year old was little there were very few high harness height/weight options now and none that were low priced) or for a 5-6 year old whose maturity and bone structure can handle a seatbelt but are slim enough that they're still under 40 lbs.

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  • Both my 7 yr old and 5 yr old are in high back boosters with the seat belt. We just moved our youngest as well, he would not sit correctly in the 5pt harness. He actually does fit better in the high back booster and is much happier. For us it did become a safety issue. He is 30 lbs and 3 years and 4 months old. In our state, this is a legal age for a booster seat. We did a lot of research on booster seats and are very comfortable with our decision. I was not planning to move him until he was at least 4. We were planning to pick up an extra booster for my husbands car, and ended up with three this weekend for all the kids.
    Boy 1 2/06 - Boy 2 12/07 - Boy 3 9/09
  • DS turned 4 in October and hasn't outgrown his RF/FF convertibles (Evenflo Triumph) yet, but one expires in April so we bought him a highback convertible booster. We'll keep him in the harness until he hits the max. weight for it.
  • Like PP have said most states require a 5 pt harness until age 4 and 40lbs. Here in FL we have the worst seatbelt laws (and we have one of the highest child fatality rates in car crashes, go figure) and even we require a 5 pt harness until age 4. Now at age 4 in our state you can just put your child on the car seat and put a seatbelt on them. Which is just crazy as far as I am concerned. I currently have my 4 1/2 year olds in boosters with the 5 pt. harness and plan on keeping them in these until they prove they will not unbuckle the seatbelts in a standard booster or move the seatbelt behind their shoulders. They also tend to fall asleep on long car rides (4 hours our more) and would just slump over with a regular seatbelt. I just don't feel they are ready and for their safety I am keeping them harnessed longer.

    Last year we were in a car accident when they were 3 1/2 and I am so thankful they were still in their convertibles at the time. All of my passenger side airbags deployed in my Pilot and it was very scary. But my girls were fine because they were restrained properly in their seats. 

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  • image ToBeMrsT:
    As long as possible.  DS just turned 5 and is still in a 5 pt harness (Britax Frontier) and we have no intentions of putting him in a different seat any time soon.  

    This exactly. same carseat too.

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  • Listen to penguingrrl and fredalina, they've given correct advice. I would not put a 3 year old in a high back booster. Ever. I just posted in the other thread about boosters, dd2 is going to be 7 soon, she is close to 100%ile for height, and she is a 1/4" from the top harness slot on the Frontier (20" torso height). She should still fit it in booster only mode for several more years. If you look at that or a Graco Nautilus, you shouldn't have to buy another seat after that. BRU trade and save starts at the end of the month, and I know both seats have been on for good deals recently. Or look at an Evenflo Maestro.

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  • Ds1 is 4 he'll be five in March. He moved into a high back booster a few months after his 4th bday. He is very tall for his age and weighed a little over 40 pounds. We only moved him because he was getting very uncomfortable in the five point harness. He didn't like the thing between his legs and said it Hurt. He does really well In his booster and it supports his head well. Ds2 isn't as tall of a boy as ds1 so he'll probably stay in his convertible carseat longer.
  • DD is five, still under 40 pounds, and in a 5 point harness, which she'll stay in as long as possible.  I lugged that damn thing through airports last month when I was traveling with the two kids and wished at that moment she could use a booster, but she isn't big enough and even if she were, the 5 point is safer and she'll use it for years, and then DS should be able to use it until it expires.  Kids don't grow that fast after the toddler years, or at least my kids don't.  At a few pounds and a couple of inches a year, they fit in carseats a lot longer than you'd expect.  DD didn't even outgrew her convertible (which DS is now using) until she was at least four and a half, and we don't have an especially large one.

    DD born 10/10/07 * DS born 11/25/11 * #3 due 3/9/2015
  • I would keep LO in a five-point harness as long as you can.  Much safer than a ill fitting booster.  My 3.5 yr old is still in her convertible.  Where I live the magic rule for booster is 40 pounds and four years old as the minimum, but that doesn't mean you need to switch.  You also need to consider maturity for a seat belt and if they are getting good fit in their booster.  Check this out:

     http://vicarseattechs.com/2012/to-booster-or-not-to-booster/

     

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