Sunday, January 25, 2009

Booster Blur

My eyes are starting to fall out from staring at booster seat explanations and statistics and reviews online... I hope you don't mind if I take a shortcut and ask for your advice.

Here's our situation: baby Angelina is about ready for a convertible carseat. We already have two Evenflo Titan Vs which we love, but I can't fathom getting a third, and I'm not sure if we even have room for a third in the backseat of our car (a Toyota Camry). So I'm hoping we can move Bella (turning 4 in May) into a booster. However, she's small-average for her age, weighing only about 33 lbs. From what I'm seeing, some 5-point harness boosters can accommodate kids her size and then grow with them as they get larger and ready to use the car's seatbelt.

Here are the features of my ideal booster:
(1) very narrow: this is key since we're working with the backseat of a Camry with two convertible carseats already in there
(2) 5-point harness but can eventually become a booster for use with the seatbelt
(3) performs very well on safety tests, good reputation for safety
(4) not expensive

Any suggestions, dear miracle workers?

And then my thoughts wander... just how many infant seats and convertible seats and booster seats do most large families with kids close in age own these days? My dad was one of six, and I'm pretty sure they all piled into the far-back of a station wagon with no seatbelts while the babies lay on the floor of the car with pacifiers and rattles. What's a twenty-first century family to do?

15 comments:

Alexis said...

http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3009610
Here's a link to one that we bought for my nearly 4-year-old when my third was born. He sleeps well in it (a major bonus point for me) and he was in the 5-point harness until very recently when we switched to the seatbelt. And I completely understand this whole 21st-century-family-in-the-car situation. It's crazy! You're going to break your back trying to get them in and out of a Camry!

Kat said...

I think you may need to make the move to the much-dreaded minivan, JM! :) We have a Graco booster seat, so I can't help with the 5=point harness...Sorry!

Bethany said...

My youngest is currently using a Safety First Summit Booster Car Seat, it has the 5 point harness, but that is also removable and can eventually be used with the seat belt in the car as a booster. I think it goes from 22-40 lbs as a forward facing car seat and then from 40-100lbs as a belt positioning booster. In my experience with car seats it fairly narrow (for a 5 point harness seat) but I just don't know if it would fit for you with all three seats in the car. I found it at Walmart, I just looked it up and it says it's $110, but I know I paid like $80 for it, so it might go on sale somewhere.

Now my middle child, who turned 4 in January (around 40 lbs). He's been in a booster type seat that uses the car's seat belt, but it has the high back on it so he's tucked in and more secure than just a regular booster seat. (like the ones right below the one above on the Walmart website) It is very skinny, and we've never had trouble with it. Our is a evenflo or graco, I can't remember. Graco has a few of this type that are for children starting at 30lbs, the catch is that they have to be 38in tall.

I like the Safety First line in boosters like this, because at least with the research I've done, they are comparable safety wise with the bigger more expensive boosters, but you can find them at Walmart for $110 or less.

Anyway hope this helps. good luck.

Amanda said...

Just a thought too, if you are around a Babies R Us, most of them will let you take seats out to your car to see if they will fit. It might be a pain especially if you have the three kids, but worth it in the end to make sure you buy a booster that will fit with the two convertible car seats.

texas mommy said...

Another question...JM--Are Evenflo's convertible seats pretty narrow? I spent a good chunk of time trying to get 2 Britax convertibles and a Graco Snugride in the back of our Camry last weekend and couldn't do it...I had to have my mother-in-law come over and watch the kids so I could go somewhere when I just had our smaller car. Is there a secret I don't know?

texas mommy said...

Btw, Kat...minivans are not to be dreaded! I think they are quite practical, more so than, say, a tahoe.

clairesd said...

I have three forward-facing toddlers in the back of our VW Jetta (the old model, not the wider new one). Each kid has a five point harness. I have a Fisher Price one that is not narrow, and two of these: http://www.nhtsa.gov/portal/nhtsa_eou/info.jsp?type=combination&i=51
They fit kids 22 to 80lbs, and can be used as a booster when they're ready. It's not especially well-padded and with no frills at all. But it is the narrowest on the market as far as I know, at 16'', and is also very light-weight, which is nice for airplane travel. Back when I researched this (about 2 years ago), the closest I came was 18''. And they are CHEAP; I bought it at Target for $40 or $50, I don't remember. They don't seem to have it on their website anymore, though, I just checked.
Yes, it's a bit of a pain to lean into the car to strap the child in the middle, but you don't have to hurt your back doing it--there are magical ways. :)
Oh, btw: when we have traveled to visit relatives or need a rental car, we've never had an instance where we couldn't fit them into a car (unless it's a two-door--I've never tried that), so it's nice not to have to worry about that in advance.
Good luck.

Sera said...

Don't worry - you will find something to fit. We have a Honda Accord and three children... one in a booster, the other two younger ones in carseats. It can be a struggle, but we aren't in a position to buy a minivan yet. Someday we will, but for now.... And it WAS much easier in the "olden days"... I remember piling into the car with my sisters and friends, no carseats or booster seats once you weren't a baby any more!

Kat said...

Just a quick aside...I do think that the new regulations on kids in car seats/boosters are positive, as there were many accidents that could have been prevented if kids had been in car seats. For example, a friend of mine had a little sister die as a result of getting stuck when she was playing around with the automatic window. If her toddler sister had been strapped into a carseat, this of course could have been prevented. So, yes it is annoying, but it does save lives!!

margaretjdmom said...

I don't know of anything that fits your ideal description....we've used the Evenflo Triumph for a convertible (it has a narrow base, but its a wide seat...so it would only work well in the back of Camry with harness boosters.) and we've also used the Graco ComfortSport b/c its narrow!

Our '98 camry could fit two Graco Turbo Boosters (the non harness kind) and the triumph/comfortsport but it was really difficult for the kids to use the seatbelts with the boosters. We ended up just trying to keep it buckled all the time and had them wiggle out. My advice...as long as you are in the camry stay away from the seatbelt boosters...its is too hard to get your hands in there!! Now I have a Siena and I have surrendered myself to the fact that I am uncool....but it is certainly way easier!!

Juris Mater said...

Thank you ladies for the suggestions and for talking this through with me. I'm definitely going to take the Babies R Us test run option that you suggested, Amanda, and Alexis, Bethany and Claire, thanks so much for the specific suggestions. Those will be the first I try.

Tex, we do the two Evenflo Titan Vs next to each other using the LATCH harnesses with the infant carseat on one side, strapped in using the seatbelt without the base. It's a little bit of an effort to install them but we can strap them very securely. I think the Britax ones are notoriously wide though.

So you all know, I'm not a bit worried about my coolness in a minivan... we just aren't in a financial position for one right now. However, when that day comes, I'll blast my Minivan Mix CD, roll the windows down, and teach the kids how to raise the roof in the backseat. A perfect ten on the coolness scale, right? : )

Juris Mater said...

Thank you ladies for the suggestions and for talking this through with me. I'm definitely going to take the Babies R Us test run option that you suggested, Amanda, and Alexis, Bethany and Claire, thanks so much for the specific suggestions. Those will be the first I try.

Tex, we do the two Evenflo Titan Vs next to each other using the LATCH harnesses with the infant carseat on one side, strapped in using the seatbelt without the base. It's a little bit of an effort to install them but we can strap them very securely. I think the Britax ones are notoriously wide though.

So you all know, I'm not a bit worried about my coolness in a minivan... we just aren't in a financial position for one right now. However, when that day comes, I'll blast my Minivan Mix CD, roll the windows down, and teach the kids how to raise the roof in the backseat. A perfect ten on the coolness scale, right? : )

RadianLove said...

We have 3 across our backseat (fit both of our sedans) and I did tons of research. I finally found the Radian:

http://sunshinekidsbaby.com/

I take carseats very seriously. Radians are very narrow, strong, 5-point harness from birth through 80 pounds (or 65 if you go for that one). And it comes in a pink print if that helps sell your girl on it. We have 2 Radians and a large-sized Graco back there (which has been both forward and rear-facing at various times) and there's plenty of room. It's not cheap, but it will grow with your child. (It's not a booster, but you wouldn't need a booster since it goes to 80 pounds.)

claire said...

I had not come across the Radian mentioned above. I just checked it out (I noticed it is only 17" wide which is awesome) and as expensive as it is, it's way cheaper than a minivan! Five shoulder positions and it folds up? This thing is amazing!

Jennifer in MN said...

We have 2 Radians and love them--one is rear facing and the other is forward facing! They are expensive but worth it. They are very narrow and can fit side by side. They are also very comfy, the kids have never complained about them.

http://www.car-seat.org/ is a great place to go for info--it's a forum staffed with carseat experts and others. very helpful!