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Saturday, June 12, 2010

5 Point Harness vs Booster Seat

My oldest girl is now 4 and is still sitting in a full on car seat (convertible car seat with a 5 point harness) in my car. Recently many parents have asked me why I have not transitioned into a booster seat given that it is so much easier to operate and transfer from vehicle to vehicle. I thought I would write about this in the interest of reaching as many parents as possible and to answer the questions about why Andira does not sit in a booster seat in my car. You can only do the best you can for your child but I will be keeping mine in their 5 point harness seats for as long as possible!

The benefits of a 5 point harness are irrefutable. “Child Passenger Safety experts agree that the Five-Point Harness is the safest, because it provides the snuggest fit and is suitable for the widest range of children” found on the CPSafety web site. The definition alone tells the story. A 5 point harness attaches at the shoulders, hips and between the legs of the child keeping them as securely strapped in as possible which reduces the risk of injury and even death in a car crash.

Many parents transition into booster seats much too early. The information I found on healthychildren.org states that “Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age).” If the child does not fit properly into an adult seat belt then the booster seat will not protect the child in the unfortunate event of a crash. The most common recommendation for appropriate weight necessary for a booster seat is 40 pounds. While it may not be possible for your child to fit into their car seat until they are 8 years old the longer they can stay in one the safer they will be. I also found out that there is actually a seat that you can use after you child has outgrown their convertible seat but is not ready for a booster seat yet. It is a “combination seat.” “A combination seat is normally for use after the child has grown too tall for a forward-facing convertible, but is not yet heavy enough (40 lbs) to move into a booster. The harnessed mode is used until the child weighs 40 lbs (or 50 lbs for the Car Seat Specialty Airway), then the seat is converted to booster mode.” http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/ComboShop.aspx

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to this very sad video so that you can see a real life testimonial about using a 5 point harness seat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azgBhZfcqaQ . There are numerous such videos out there expressing the same sentiment. My heart goes out to this family and the video they share sure does drive the point home.

8 comments:

  1. The big concern for me is the car seat and car manufacturer instructed me to use the seat belt to anchor in the combination seat. We have the Graco Nautilus (5pt harness) for my 4.5year old 44lb son. I even called both to inquire about this. They said not to use the LATCH system over a certain weight. I still do not understand why? Our vehicle manufacturer has no recommendation either I found when I inquired with them. The car seat manufacturers Britax and Graco instucted me to use the seatbelt to anchor the car seat in. What if the seat belt fails? I even thought why not use both the seat belt and LATCH system then if one fails there is a backup? The car seat manufacturer explicitly says NEVER to use both in the user manual and when I called customer service. It is unclear to me why? I do not know which is safest or more reliable.

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  2. Website specialises in double pushchair sales. Also deals with baby products in general including Cots and Cotbeds, car and booster seats, other pushchairs, baby walkers, safety gates, travel cots and playpen, high chairs etc. www.doublepushchaironline.co.uk

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  3. Thank you for this article.
    I'd also like to point out there are several seats that harness to 65 pounds now. The My ride, Symphony 65, Graco Nautilus, Radian 65 (they also have a seat up to 80 pounds now) Britax Frontier also has a booster that harnesses to 80 pounds.

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  4. Awesome post, I want to check out a couple of your other messages. Thank you!

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  5. I have a 4 year old son who is 43 pounds. Many of his friends have transitioned to "big kid" seats and he won't sit in a "baby seat" anymore. We ended up getting a 5 pt harness booster seat. Very informative. Thank you!

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  6. I've read the same thing, the LATCH system is not rated for more than 65 lbs. Therefore, a 25lbs. car seat plus a 40 lbs. kid equals 65 lbs. They suggest using the seat belt to hold the 5pt harness seat in place. After watching the video, I have to say if the seat belt fails then it doesn't matter what kind of seat your child is in.

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  7. my 8 year old is 49 lbs and 47 inches. (about 10 inches below the 4'9 mark). shes currently in a backless booster. should i switch her to a 5 pt harness? or a high back booster?

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  8. my 8 year old is 49 lbs and 47 inches. (about 10 inches below the 4'9 mark). shes currently in a backless booster. should i switch her to a 5 pt harness? or a high back booster?

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