I'm feeling like I have too many options and unknowns
DD1's EFTA expires in December. She's about 44" and 42lbs and 5.5yo. She's been right at the 50th percentile since she was 3. My first thought was a high-back booster, just because it seemed like the next step. What are the risks/benefits to boosters?
Another thing to think about is that we'll likely have another baby in the next 15 mos or so, which would be our third. Our second is currently almost 3, almost 30 lbs, consistently between 25th and 50th percentile. The kids ride in our 05 corolla. I'd prefer an infant bucket for the baby. I'm pretty committed to not financing a vehicle, and I think it's unlikely we'll be able to save enough to buy the kind of van we'd like in that time. This is where the too many options/unknowns comes in. We could:
Put DD1 in a radian now (I'm afraid it would be hard for her to go from a booster back to a 5pt). It's a big expense, but also a good seat that will last for the other kids.
Get a slim hb booster and leave it buckled if we have 3 in the back. She could slip in and out, assuming the 3 seats fit.
Dig deep into our savings, reduce retirement contributions and extra mortgage principle to buy a bigger vehicle when we need it.
Put the kids in our not as reliable 03 Taurus. This isn't the car I would prefer to be taking on longer trips.
Finance something bigger
I've seen a surprising number of annecdotal combinations for 3 in the back of a corolla. I'd also love to hear your experiences from a practicality standpoint. Is it nearly impossible to reach around to get all the kids in and buckles fastened? Especially in the winter? Can the kids keep their hands and feet in their own tiny spaces? I was also surprised to see the radians are infant to booster, as I thought there was usually at least one stage that didn't fit well with a lifetime seat.