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Rethinking the Nautilus (need opinions on Frontier)

590 Views 12 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  KayleeZoo
I recently bought a Nautilus for DD1, who is 3 yo, 37" and 32 pounds. I currently have her FF in a Touriva. I sat her in the Nautilus tonight, and I noticed that she is on the second to last strap in the seat. That's ok because she's kinda slow growing torso wise, it's her legs that keep getting longer. However, she's right at the crotch strap limit, and if she gets a little bigger, she probably won't fit in it anymore and would have to use it as a booster, which then negates me investing $170 in a higher weight harness seat when her cheap Touriva will probably last her until she's 40 lbs, because the crotch strap spacing is more generous.

So, my question is, would the Britax rontier be a good investment? Are the crotch settings "bigger"? Money isn't really an issue, but I do want a seat that will keep her harnessed a long time, but then can be used as a booster. I really don't want to use a seatbelt with her, because 1) she's a toothpick
; 2) she falls asleep in the car often; and 3) I feel she isn't mature enough to stay still in a seatbelt once she discovers she can easily get out of it.

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I dont think the frontier will go to higher limits than the nautilus.

The only regret I have about the Nautilus is I bought it when my son hit 37 pounds thinking any day now, he won't be able to use his Graco Cargo. But he is STILL under the 40 pounds mark and he is 41 inches tall now. He is turning 5 in a few weeks and begging to go in to the Turbo Booster we already have for his older brother. He sits still and fine for the Turbo Booster. Now I wish I had waited to buy the new carseat when I had to. If I had, I likely would have just put him in the Turbo Booster when he grew out of the CarGo. He has plenty of room in the Nautilus to go for sometime. He only asks for the Turbo Booster because he can fasten the belt himself and he wants to be like big brother. We let him use the Turbo Booster in his dad's car.
I'm not really concerned about the strap height. What I am concerned about was the crotch strap. The most inner setting goes under her, and the last setting is at the crotch, which means she could grow out of it crotchwise any day. So I was wondering if the Frontier crotch strap was more generous (3 settings or whatever). I sat her in the baby's radian and she had ample crotch strap room, but not in the nautilus.

My other thought is this: while I was unpacking the radian, I sat the baby in the Nautilus to have her restrained while I was downstairs. She fit the seat in her sister's settings perfectly. Now, if the Frontier is bigger, by the time DD is out of it, I can hopefully pass it down to DD2.
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My DD will be five in June, we just sent her Nautilus back to Graco because of the crotch strap issue. In the Frontier she's on the middle crotch strap setting and it's comfortably in front of her. The Nautilus crotch strap was under her and cutting in on the furthest out setting. She likes the Frontier better overall and it just feels sturdier.
Graco has confirmed that you are allowed to use the crotch strap even if your child is over it/bigger than it, as long as they are comfortable. My dd at 4.5 yo, 41 pounds, is right at the last crotch slot, but says it is still comfortable, and LOVEs her nauti, so we are keeping it. we also bought a Frontier due to the issue, but my dd HATES teh frontier, so we're selling it. Yes, gthe Frontier gives you a bit more crotch area, and has crotch slots that are further out. The seat itself is nice and i love it (except for the heinous install issue in our vehicles) but DD hates it, so away it goes!

Whether or not to get a frontier vs nauti is a completely personal issue....people pretty much either hate or love each of them, so it's hard to say which is going to work better for you.

We love our nauti, and expect it to get us close to 65 lbs, even though dd will be a bit over the crotch slot by then.......and then we will get a dedicated booster, since the nauti doesn;t give great booster fit....MOST combination seats don't.
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We're returning our Nauti to Graco for a refund because of the crotch strap depth issue. My DD's Frontier has LOTS more crotch strap room. DS is almost 4, and weighs 31-ish lbs, and he's sitting on the crotch strap in the Nauti and has been complaining that it hurts his pee pee. I can't imagine how uncomfortable he'll be in the next year or 2- and he'll still definately be small/young enough to be harnessed. Just my .02.
My dd is almost 5 (next month) and is 42 lbs. The crotch strap fits her fine, but I'd have to check and see what setting it's on when she gets home.

I was thinking about getting a Nautilus for ds1 when ds2 needs his Boulevard (in two years), but now this crotch strap issue makes me wonder if it's a good idea.
I've been considering the same thing. I want to move dd2 into dd1's convertible. DD1 is 3yo, 39lbs and I'm kinda between the Nautilus and Frontier. We tried out the seats in the store and in the Nautilus it looks like she's right there at crotch strap. I can't tell if its something she'll grow out of soon or if she'll be there for awhile. The crotch settings on the Frontier are definitely bigger. I'm still undecided.
Something else to consider- the Frontier offers a lot more shoulder room, too. My kids are small, but even my 40%-ile DS's shoulders are wider than the widest shoulder area in the Nauti. He hasn't complained about it being uncomfortable, but when he sits in his sisters Frontier, he can sit with his back and shoulders flat against the seat back, and not have his shoulders pushed forward at all like they are in the Nauti.
I have to say I get very confused when people say their small children are not fitting in the nautilus. I just re-measured all of my kids, height and weight. Then took one of our nautilus Seats out and sat it on the floor in the living room to make comparisons.

Maia is 6 years, 5 months old-weighs 46 pounds and is 47 inches tall. She is 3/4 of an inch from the 2nd to the top shoulder slot, so she has 2 3/4 inches of butt to shoulder growth before she is too tall. I checked the crotch strap, it is on the further setting, but she still has an inch between her body and the strap. (can see where it would be an issue sooner if she were a boy) As for Shoulders, they do not lay totally flat across the back, but she says the bit of "wrap around" is comfortable to rest on and makes her feel safe.

Madison is 4 years, 1 month old- weighs 39 pounds and is 42 inches tall. She has a long torso but is just barely above the 3rd slot. (so we have hers set at the 2nd to the top)

Sage is 3 years 11 months old- weighs 36 pounds and is 39 inches tall. She is about an inch below the 3rd lowest slot.

I know torso height can vary but when I hear that a child that is 10 inches shorter than my 6 year old is at the same shoulder height it makes me wonder if the child is positioned correctly, or, if the headrest has been raised to reveal the top slot. There are 4 should strap settings on this seat, I am wondering if the people who tink their kids are too tall are not pulling the headrest up all the way. Same issue with the shoulders if it is the headrest pushing on them. Have you raised it higher?

Crotch Strap could very greatly depending on clothing and circumerence of child. however, the OP daughter is tiny, I can't imagine (unless she is in a cloth diaper) how she can be at the crotch strap if she is seated all of the way back in the seat
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Originally Posted by mommyto3girls View Post
I can't imagine (unless she is in a cloth diaper) how she can be at the crotch strap if she is seated all of the way back in the seat
I was thinking the same thing - not that I don't believe you, OP, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it! We wanted to get a Nautilus for DS1 and had the same problem with the crotch strap, so we didn't buy it. However, he is 5 years old, 50 lbs, and 47" tall. He was slightly above the 2nd shoulder harness slot, but right at or maybe a tiny bit in front of the biggest crotch strap slot.

I wondered if maybe there is some variation in the seats from one country to another? (I'm in Canada)
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i would also mention this oddity that i have noticed and heard others comment on - a car seat can fit kids differently when it is sitting on the floor inside somewhere vs. installed in a car. most of the cat seats i have looked at this way have more room in the harness in the house than in the car. tried dd in her younger sister's blvd, in the house she had a bit of room to grow, and in the car she was just over the top slot.

got surprised this way once - dug out the old lighter travel seat in gramma's basement right before a trip, sat her in it (in the house), fastened the harness, she just fit, perfect for the trip. on the trip, found out she had outgrown it by just a bit and had to make due (we were in Europe and I didn't want buy a seat - at that time they used boosters for kids her age, ugh.)

This is a good thing to be aware of when shopping for size....not sure if the same applies to the crotch strap or not.
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Both of my younger kids would fit, height-wise, in the Nauti for a LONG time. It's the shoulder width and more importantly, the crotch buckle depth that we had a problem with. Without having both the Nauti and Frontier installed side by side in a vehicle, it's really hard to tell how much extra room you really do get in the Frontier. Which is a major drag for us, because the Nautilus is so easy to install and the Frontier is hard to get rock solid in my Grand Caravan's 3rd row with seatbelt.

And I totally agree about differences between sitting in a seat in a store to test, or in the living room, vs. how a kid fits in a seat installed. It can really be deceiving, IME.
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