At this rate, she'll be in a 5-point carseat until she's 7! - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 01:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#2 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 02:08 AM
 
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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?
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#3 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 02:55 AM
 
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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)
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#4 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 03:05 AM
 
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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.

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#5 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 10:43 AM
 
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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.

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#6 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 10:57 AM
 
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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.

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#7 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 11:05 AM
 
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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?

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#8 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 11:06 AM
 
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What state are you in?
Wisconsin

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#9 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 11:11 AM
 
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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.

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#10 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 11:19 AM
 
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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 )

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#11 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 11:47 AM
 
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My son is in the 75th %iles and was in a 5-pt. harness until 6.5.
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#12 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 03:09 PM
 
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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

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#13 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 03:17 PM
 
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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.
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#14 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 04:06 PM
 
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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.

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#15 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 04:22 PM
 
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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.

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#16 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 06:06 PM
 
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oops, double post

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#17 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 06:07 PM
 
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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.

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#18 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 09:52 PM
 
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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.

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#19 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 10:40 PM
 
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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

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#20 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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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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#21 of 61 Old 12-12-2009, 11:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I've just never seen a kid older than, oh, maybe 4 in a harnessed seat. But then again, I never noticed toddlers rear-facing as long as dd and most of her friends were until I had a kid that age. I noticed her shoulders are REALLY close to the Scenera's top slots today. Are that seat's slots particularly low? She has a long way to go to get close to the weight limit! Where should her shoulders be in relation to the top slots before we upgrade her seat?

Maedze, thanks for your take on the wording of the Maine law. It is a bit confusing. DD is certainly nowhere near ready to use a booster correctly. But the thought of having to buy two seats with higher slots sometime in the not-too-distant future isn't so great, either. Maybe we could manage with just one? Maybe I'm fretting over this a bit prematurely, anyway.
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#22 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 12:12 AM
 
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DS will be 6 in a few months and still happily harnessed

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#23 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 12:42 AM
 
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My oldest is 7 and still happily harnessed.

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#24 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 12:51 AM
 
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Wow you people have tiny little kids! My youngest is 3 yrs 10 mths old and has been in a high backed booster seat for about 4 months. We had her in a harness that said it went to 47 lbs but she outgrew it at 45 lbs. Yes my almost 4 year old is 45 lbs and also very tall so too big for a harnessed seat. My older two are 55 lbs (7 years old) and in a backless booser and 62 lbs (almost 9 years old) and in a backless booster.

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#25 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 02:45 AM
 
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My 7 1/2 yo (42 lbs) and my 6 1/2 yo (38 lbs) are both happily harnessed in Sunshine Radians. They aren't even in the top slot yet. My 3yo is in a Sunshine Radian too.

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#26 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 05:33 AM
 
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My Dd is 3 weeks shy of her 7th birthday, and at 39.5 lbs is still comfortably in a 5 pt harness carseat. Her 5 1/2 yo sister is as well - but since she is also 39.5 lbs, I figure she'll be in a booster before she is 6. One or both will be in booster seats this spring, at this rate.

It's been a total nonissue for us - for one thing, at 5+ they are capable of fastening their own buckles securely (I double-check to be sure, but it sure does save time for them to be able to do that while I get their little brothers in!) and it is just much easier than when they were 3. I do remember, when they were much smaller, being appalled at the idea of them being in carseats for years and years and years... but it turned out not to be a problem for us at all.

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#27 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 10:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
Wow you people have tiny little kids! My youngest is 3 yrs 10 mths old and has been in a high backed booster seat for about 4 months. We had her in a harness that said it went to 47 lbs but she outgrew it at 45 lbs. Yes my almost 4 year old is 45 lbs and also very tall so too big for a harnessed seat. My older two are 55 lbs (7 years old) and in a backless booser and 62 lbs (almost 9 years old) and in a backless booster.
I strongly, strongly, strongly encourage you to put your 3 year old back in a harnessed seat. No child her age is mature enough to sit correctly in a booster, let alone a 3.5 year old. In an accident, the consequences could truly be deadly. PLEASE look at your options and find a more suitable seat for your child

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#28 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 10:53 AM
 
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I guess I've just never seen a kid older than, oh, maybe 4 in a harnessed seat. But then again, I never noticed toddlers rear-facing as long as dd and most of her friends were until I had a kid that age. I noticed her shoulders are REALLY close to the Scenera's top slots today. Are that seat's slots particularly low? She has a long way to go to get close to the weight limit! Where should her shoulders be in relation to the top slots before we upgrade her seat?

Maedze, thanks for your take on the wording of the Maine law. It is a bit confusing. DD is certainly nowhere near ready to use a booster correctly. But the thought of having to buy two seats with higher slots sometime in the not-too-distant future isn't so great, either. Maybe we could manage with just one? Maybe I'm fretting over this a bit prematurely, anyway.

The top slots of an older style Scenera ARE quite low, and most kids, except the round ones will not make it to 40 pounds in one.

WRT to your seating situation: if your daughter were a bit heavier, I'd start booster training her at 4. But she's quite petite...I would plan on trying to keep her in a harness at least for another 18 months. When you do start booster training, look for a seat that fits littles well. The Graco Turbobooster (don't forget the screws in the armrests!!!) and the Recaro Vivo are both excellent options.

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#29 of 61 Old 12-13-2009, 12:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
Wow you people have tiny little kids! My youngest is 3 yrs 10 mths old and has been in a high backed booster seat for about 4 months. We had her in a harness that said it went to 47 lbs but she outgrew it at 45 lbs. Yes my almost 4 year old is 45 lbs and also very tall so too big for a harnessed seat. My older two are 55 lbs (7 years old) and in a backless booser and 62 lbs (almost 9 years old) and in a backless booster.
If the seat she outgrew had a 47 pound harness weight there are bigger seats on the market that could hold her harnessed 40lbs AND 4 years old is the bare minimum for safety to begin booster training. Before 4 years old there isn't enough physical development (I'm not talking about maturity, I mean strictly body structure) to safely have the child out of a 5 point harness. Maturity also comes into play and most kids won't be mature enough to properly sit in a booster seat (never wiggle, never reach for a toy, not slump if they are sleeping etc) until sometime between 5 years and 6 years old.

My son is not small or short and only a couple of months younger then your daughter and he's still rearfacing in a 40lb rearfacing seat, and soon to be a 45lb one. I understand your daughter is over the weight limit for that, but really my point was that by height the seats we have will be outgrown rearfacing long before forward facing and he's not even done that yet.

From a safety perspective your daughter really should be in a five point harness still. It could be the difference between her staying restrained in a crash and not staying in the restraint during a crash... which is a pretty significant difference I think we can all agree.

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#30 of 61 Old 12-14-2009, 12:36 AM
 
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I have a nine year old riding in a Regent. She will be there until she outgrows it by height. Since she has been in the 5th percentile or lower in height and weight since birth I don't expect her to out grow it by weight. I also have an almost 7 year old in a radian80 and I'm sure it will be a similiar situation.
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