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At this rate, she'll be in a 5-point carseat until she's 7!

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
I was just looking at Maine's carseat laws and at girls' growth charts, and am a little perplexed. Kids have to be in a car seat until 40 pounds. They have to be in a booster until 80 pounds. If dd happened to stay at the 5th-10th percentile for weight, as she has all along, she won't be 40 pounds until she is almost 7! And she wouldn't be 80 pounds until she is 13. (Not that I'm expecting her to stay so petite--her dad's tiny Portuguese genes can't completely win over my giant Polish ones, can they?)

How would that work? A kid at the 25th percentile for height (she's hovered around 10th-25th there would be about 45 inches at that age. Can a 45 inch kid even fit in a car seat?

Right now she's 3.5 years old, 28.5 pounds, and 37 inches tall. She rides in a Fisher-Price Safe Voyage (is that what they are called? I can't remember. The one that is basically a Marathon) in one car and a Scenera in the other. The shoulder straps are at the highest spot on both of them. Is she really going to have to ride in a full carseat until 2nd grade? Or is there some intermediate step? I know she's fine in her seats for a while still, but I'm just wondering about this.
post #2 of 61
Most likely she'd outgrow most 5 pts (except the Regent) due to her torso height and her shoulders being above the top slots.

My 5.5 year old DD is 40 lbs right now, but she has just outgrown her True Fit (which I believe has 17" top slots? but has a 65 lb weight limit and she's no where near that, of course). She has a long torso though!

That said, most kids by 6/7 years of age are ready maturity wise for a booster. And there's no evidence that a 5 pt is any safer than a booster provided that both are used correctly. Granted, if the child fits the 5 pt, my thinking is - why not keep them in that until they've outgrown it?
post #3 of 61
It does seem that if she's indeed that light she should legally be in a car seat that long in Maine. I'm not sure they mean a five point harness, or if they include boosters in their definition of child safety seats?

My 7 year old is 51 lbs. (and around the 50th percentile in height... I don't remember exactly) and fits the harness in her Nautilus still. The slots are about two inches higher than the slots in the True Fit, I think? (I think they're 1/2 inch lower than the regents' top slots)
post #4 of 61
Yep, it sounds like you'll need a combo or FF'ing seat before she moves to a booster. Something like the Graco Nautilus would be a good choice. The top harness slots are a lot higher than the convertible seats you have now, so she should be able to stay harnessed in that seat (or something similar) until she's ready for a booster.
post #5 of 61
I just checked out the actual text of the Maine child restraint laws and fortunately, that's not what it says.

It requires a child under 40 pounds to be secured in a 'child safety seat'. A few sentences above that, it defines "child safety seat" as

Quote:
A. "Child safety seat" means a child safety seat that meets the standards described in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
So if your six year old weighs, say, 35 pounds, and you put her in an FMVSS belt positioning booster that is approved for children weighing 30 pounds or more, you are in compliance with the law.

Most states that 'appear' to have a restraint law requiring kids under 40 pounds to be in harnesses actually don't, if you read the exact wording of the law.
post #6 of 61
I wonder this too about my kids! I asked a police officer at a car seat safety booth once and he said that they had to be 40 lbs before they could be moved to a booster. 4 year old ds just hit 30 lbs and 2 year old dd is not quite 20 lbs, so like you, it is going to be awhile for us.
post #7 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by StrawberryFields View Post
I wonder this too about my kids! I asked a police officer at a car seat safety booth once and he said that they had to be 40 lbs before they could be moved to a booster. 4 year old ds just hit 30 lbs and 2 year old dd is not quite 20 lbs, so like you, it is going to be awhile for us.
What state are you in?
post #8 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
What state are you in?
Wisconsin
post #9 of 61
I should clarify that when we say, 'harness to 40 lbs' it's for several reasons:

1.) The 'average' (I know, who has this mythical average child?!?!) hits 40 pounds between 4 and 5, which is basically when you even have a chance in heck of a very small portion of the kid population being mature enough for a booster only

2.) Until very recently, seats did not harness beyond 40 pounds. Most seats would not get a kid beyond three or four by height, anyway. So we were begging parents to PLEASE use the seat until the child outgrew it rather than switching to a booster at 2 years.

3.) A study a few years back showed that putting a kid UNDER 40 pounds in a booster led to a significant increase in risk of head and neck injury, submarining and potential ejection.


That being said, maturity is a HUGE part of booster-readiness, both physical and emotional. The hips of a 35 pound seven year old are much more developed than the hips of a 35 pound three year old, and will do a much better job of keeping the lap belt down in an accident.

A 30 pound six year old in a booster? Pretty safe. A 30 pound 3 year old? Not safe at all.
post #10 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by StrawberryFields View Post
Wisconsin
I just read the whole text of the Wisconsin law. It's, uh, extremely wordy

It does have some problems in that it makes it sound like it's illegal to rear face a child over 1 (although that's not the case, it's just phrased badly).

But it has similar language to the Maine law, where it uses a vague 'child safety restraint system' which is defined as any FMVSS child seat used according to manufacturer use.

So it would not be illegal to put a 30 pound 3 year old in a booster (although it would be unfailingly stupid). It would also not be illegal to put a 30 pound 6 year old in a booster (although that would likely be quite safe )
post #11 of 61
My son is in the 75th %iles and was in a 5-pt. harness until 6.5.
post #12 of 61
I agree, the way that the laws are written could not possibly be more confusing in some states. It's obnoxious, really.

Just to throw this out there- my 2nd DD will be 7 next month and is still harnessed in her Radian XT. At 35.5lbs, she honestly doesn't fit well in many boosters, and I'm not impressed with the one she does fit well in (Graco TurboBooster). I imagine she'll be harnessed for at least another year. My oldest was harnessed till almost 9, though
post #13 of 61
My sons are still harnessed at almost 8, 6, and 4. My 13 year old is not harnessed or boostered, but was harnessed until 7 and then in a booster until 11 or so.
post #14 of 61
Isn't it safer to keep a child 5 pt harnessed as long as possible?
We just bought a Britax Regent for DS1 (3 yo, 38#) because we can stay harnessed until 80#. We have the Decathlon in the other car, which only goes to 65# but the regent is more roomy for an older child I think.
post #15 of 61
My 5-year-old is 45 inches and fits great in a Regent (her main seat), a Nautilus (our back up seat) and a Frontier (her friends seat.) The only reason we bought the Regent is because, at 2, dd was outgrowin every convertable on the market and that was the only choice. If the Nautilus had been available then, we wouldn't have the Regent (though I do love the Regent!)

Finnegansmom, more than likely, your child will NOT make it to 80lbs in a Regent. Most kids outgrow seats by height not weight and most kids also slow down on their weight gain around 4ish. Dd has been 40lbs since she was 3.5.
post #16 of 61
oops, double post
post #17 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by finnegansmom View Post
Isn't it safer to keep a child 5 pt harnessed as long as possible?
There is no evidence that for a child who is able to use a booster properly, harnessing is safer than boostering. It is certainly not LESS safe, but we cannot say that it is safeR, either. With the caveat that all kids and all seats and all cars are different, and this is a VERY general guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule, I'm generally okay with a choice to booster for preference or convenience sometime around age six.
post #18 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by finnegansmom View Post
Isn't it safer to keep a child 5 pt harnessed as long as possible?
We just bought a Britax Regent for DS1 (3 yo, 38#) because we can stay harnessed until 80#. We have the Decathlon in the other car, which only goes to 65# but the regent is more roomy for an older child I think.
No, it is not. It is not 'unsafe', but it is not safer than a booster provided that the following three stipulations are met

1. The child is at least 4 years old
2. The child is at least 40 pounds (Some wiggle room for older slender kids)
3. The child has the maturity to sit correctly in the booster 100% of the time (usually occurs between the 5th and 6th birthdays)


Incidentally, most children won't get to 65 pounds in the Decathalon or 80 pounds in the Regent. The seat will be outgrown by height, first. Most kids will outgrow the Decathalon by height and weight at about 44", 40-50 pounds, and the Regent is generally outgrown by around 4 feet/50-60 pounds.
post #19 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
Incidentally, most children won't get to 65 pounds in the Decathalon or 80 pounds in the Regent. The seat will be outgrown by height, first. Most kids will outgrow the Decathalon by height and weight at about 44", 40-50 pounds, and the Regent is generally outgrown by around 4 feet/50-60 pounds.
good point! i think many people miss the concept of the high weight seats helping those dc in the 95+% of weight stay in a suitable seat, rather then being made to keep skinny 12yr olds in a harness seat
post #20 of 61
My almost-11 year old son is still using his Britax Parkway booster (rated to 100 lbs and 5") and doesn't mind at all. He's very close to fitting in the middle row of our Honda Odyssey without it, according to this sheet. The nice thing is that it has side impact protection wings built into the top of it, and you can't imagine how many times those have come in handy when the children fall asleep on long trips, they far prefer having them to not having them.
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