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  1. #1
    Unregistered (Susan)
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    Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    Hi there,
    I'm on the verge of a big car seat purchase and wanted to get some input before I do anything. I have three kids, aged almost-5-years, just-turned-3-years, and 4-months. The two youngest are about to outgrow their respective seats, so they definitely need to be replaced, but I'm sort of contemplating a change with my oldest as well.

    Until this weekend, they were in:
    ~5-year-old (~36.5 pounds, 42 inches, 23 inches sitting, 15 inches to his shoulders)
    --Forward-facing Radian 80 (purchased a bit over two years ago, stickered to 33 lbs. RF, if that helps--so not an XT), which was in the third row of our Honda Odyssey, outboard.
    3-year-old (~32 pounds, 37.25 inches, haven't taken more specific measurements because I'm pretty sure I know what we're going to do with her)
    --Rear-facing in the same model Radian 80, outboard in the second row (driver's side) of the Honda.
    4-month-old (18.9 pounds, 28.5 inches, rather big girl!) *was* in a Graco Snugride. She was right on the brink of outgrowing it by height--had *just* an inch above her head--so we moved her out of it before driving long-distance for the holidays.

    So *right now* we have all three kids in the second row of the Honda Odyssey:
    3-year-old on the driver's side, RF in the Radian, ~5-year-old in the center, FF in a Costco Alpha Elite (or some such...not the convertible, but the FF/booster, which we use with the harness), and 4-month-old on the passenger's side, RF in the other Radian 80.

    So we're pretty sure we're going to replace the 3-year-old's Radian with an XTSL, since she's approaching the weight limit for RF (ours is stickered to RF 33 pounds, and my understanding is that SKJP has said they are safe to 35, but it misses the (August 2008?) cut-off for the 40 RF standard).

    I think we'll probably keep the baby in one of the older kids' Radians for now (with the infant inserts--she'll probably inherit the XTSL when she approaches the 33 pound mark herself).

    We're having trouble deciding what to do with our 5-year-old, though. We could:
    --keep him FF in his Radian. He has plenty of room before he outgrows it by height, and he's nowhere near the weight limit, of course.
    --rear face him in an XTSL. This would mean moving him to the second row, because while I'm comfortable with him buckling himself into his Radian, I wouldn't be able to check his harness from the 3rd row if he were RF. I would probably put him in the middle of the second row, because he *can* buckle himself in, but I'm not sure if that would be best, since he wouldn't be directly behind another seat (although I don't think his seat would fit totally in between the front seats, either).
    --put him in a high-back booster (either in the center of the second row or in the third row). This isn't my inclination, but I'm throwing it out there as another option. I've heard/read some opinions that FF 5-points aren't necessarily safer than a well-fitted booster, so I've tossed the idea around.

    So I guess I want the most advice about my almost-5-year-old, but I'm also open to suggestions for the baby (or, for that matter, if you think the XTSL isn't a good seat for the 3-year-old, tell me that, too! But I feel pretty good about that decision).

    Where the baby is concerned, we're having a hard time getting the harnesses to feel as secure as we would like them, and my husband (who tends to do more of the car seat adjustment/installation) seems to think she's just too small for it to fit any more snugly than that (I keep telling him that if they bill it as suitable for a 5-pound baby, is can CERTAINLY fit our almost-19-pound baby appropriately). Any advice on that? It does *feel* as though it can't get any tighter (you pull the strap and it just...won't tighten any more). Any advice on what to do with that? Also, I'd like opinions on putting the 4-month-old in the Radian without the side-impact protection of the XT. Should we be putting her in a different seat? I would consider getting her an XTSL, too, but I'd also be open to an altogether-different seat, since she'll probably be able to inherit the XTSL from my other daughter by the time she reaches a 33 or 35 pound RF limit on another seat. Suggestions?

    Sorry this has turned so long, but it's a big purchase, and I want to make sure we're making a well-informed decision.

    Thanks!

    Susan

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  3. #2
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    What about getting a britax frontier or graco nautilas for the 5 year
    URL=http://alterna-tickers.com][/URL]

  4. #3
    CPS Technician urchin_grey's Avatar
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    Woot! Looks like you've been doing some research already!
    Hmm... I think its fine to leave the baby in one of your current Radians, though I couldn't tell you why you're having issues with the harness. I don't know if that was a common issue with the older Radians or not, since I haven't been "around" as long as those models have. I do know that Radians tend to seem loose around the tummy on some kids though, even though they are nice and tight on the shoulders. That is normal and totally fine. If you are open to RF'ing your almost-5yo though, I think getting an XTSL for him too is a great idea. He should still have a good bit of shell over his head, no? My 4.5yo is still RF'ing and probably will be full time until at least 6 at the rate he is growing, so its not unheard of to keep an older kid RF'ing. So yeah... If its in your budget and its what you want to do, go ahead and get XTs and keep them all RF'ing. Plus, given your 5yo's age and current measurements, it sounds like he could go straight to a booster after he outgrows the XTSL RF'ing.
    Carly
    mom to Bram [10 years/32lbs/41" - BT 3-in-1 & Nauti]
    ...and TTC an excuse to buy a new seat since 2/2013

  5. #4
    CPS Technician April's Avatar
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    The Radian has a "ratcheting harness", so especially with littles, you can't give it one big pull to tighten it, you have to sort of pull, rest, pull, rest. I find it easiest if I pull up, then hold on to the end of the adjuster strap so its tight and push the strap downward near the harness release button, and then pull up again. I don't know if that makes any sense, sorry!

    I don't think an XT is mandatory for an infant, because the headwings don't go anywhere near their head when they are that small anyways. I think the baby should be fine in one of your RN80s.

    I agree with getting an XTSL for your 3 year old to continue rear facing. Good for you for making that decision.

    Finally, for your almost 5 year old, I'd likely wait awhile until the RN 80 is almost outgrown and then consider a booster at that point. I'm not totally comfortable with an *almost* five year old in a booster full time, but 6 or 9 months from now would be different. I'd likely buy a booster in the summertime and start booster training then, if you haven't started already. With Kindergarten comes field trips, which often means needing your child to know how to use a booster properly.
    April-CRST
    "Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother." ~Oprah Winfrey
    DD1-11 years: seatbelt
    DS1-10 years: seatbelt DD2-7.5 years: lightrider
    DS2-6.5 years: parkway DD3-2.5 years: RF RNXT

  6. #5
    CPS Fanatic Shaunam's Avatar
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    I would keep your 5 year old in the radian ff'ing, buy a new radian for your 3 year old to rf in and put the baby in the other radian. By the time your littlest needs the higher weight limit, your middle child will be ready to go ff'ing and you can switch seats again.

    In the mean time, check your harness/booster combo that your 5 year old is in because most (if not all) of them are not meant to be used with the harness in the top position. It's not reinforced and it's for booster mode only. So unless he has a teeny tiny torso, she's probably already outgrown it. So until you get the new seat, if you HAVE to drive somewhere (assuming the 5 year old has outgrown the combo seat) I'd put the 3 year old in that ff'ing (if she fits, they are usually outgrown around 3 years) and the 5 year old back in the radian.
    Shauna, mom to Adrian (9 yrs, 54" and 83 lbs), in an Evenflo Amp and Charlie (6 yrs, 42" and 35 lbs), in an Evenflo Titan 65.

  7. #6
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shaunam View Post
    I would keep your 5 year old in the radian ff'ing, buy a new radian for your 3 year old to rf in and put the baby in the other radian. By the time your littlest needs the higher weight limit, your middle child will be ready to go ff'ing and you can switch seats again.

    In the mean time, check your harness/booster combo that your 5 year old is in because most (if not all) of them are not meant to be used with the harness in the top position. It's not reinforced and it's for booster mode only. So unless he has a teeny tiny torso, she's probably already outgrown it. So until you get the new seat, if you HAVE to drive somewhere (assuming the 5 year old has outgrown the combo seat) I'd put the 3 year old in that ff'ing (if she fits, they are usually outgrown around 3 years) and the 5 year old back in the radian.
    I have the same recommendations and the same concerns. The only thing I wanted to add is that a booster is not considerably less safe for a child who is over about 6 years and 40 lbs. Some time between 6 and 7 years hip development is more complete and leads to that part of the bone structure being more able to "take" the brunt of the force of the crash (as opposed to the forces being more spread out), and also I'd say the watershed for maturity after which almost all neurotypical kids are fully ready for boostering, maturity-wise, is 6, and children under 40 lbs. may be at more risk for submarining (sliding under the lap belt and suffering injuries because they are then out of position in the belt.) I would wait until he gains those last few lbs. and is a year older.
    CPST and Mom to Emma, 15, Bridget, 13, Maggie, 11, Katie Sue, 6, Jimmy, born May 2019,
    and Becky, waiting for us as part of our eternal family.
    Our '02 Odyssey, car seats, and seatbelts saved our lives. Now riding in a '13 Odyssey!

  8. #7
    Senior Community Member all together ooky's Avatar
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    I think she may be talking about the Apex? She said it's not the convertible. Is there another combination seat with a similar name?
    ~Sonja~

    Gwenllian: Born Feb. 7, 2004
    Eleanor: Born April 1, 2008
    Beatrice: Born Sept. 30, 2012

  9. #8
    CPS Fanatic Shaunam's Avatar
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    Quote Originally Posted by all together ooky View Post
    I think she may be talking about the Apex? She said it's not the convertible. Is there another combination seat with a similar name?
    Possibly. I didn't even think of the apex. When she mentioned the AOE, but combo seat the lower weight combo boosters immediately popped into my head. If the 5 year old is in an apex, I'm sure he's fine. It's the others I worry about.
    Shauna, mom to Adrian (9 yrs, 54" and 83 lbs), in an Evenflo Amp and Charlie (6 yrs, 42" and 35 lbs), in an Evenflo Titan 65.

  10. #9
    redpajama
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    Re: Car Seat Advice for 4-month, 3-year, and 5-year-olds...

    OP here--

    Thanks for all the advice!! I ordered on XTSL yesterday, which is officially for the 3-year-old, but since she has a pound-or-two before she's actually outgrown the Radian 80 RF limit, I think I'm going to put my son in it for a bit and see how we like it for him, RF.

    You've reinforced my inclinations regarding the booster for my oldest--I think we'll hold off on that. If RF in the XTSL seems right, we'll order a second one; otherwise he'll stay FF in the Radian 80 until he outgrows it by height. We will probably introduce a booster in the coming months--I've been meaning to get my parents one to use on the occasions when they end up picking him up from preschool or something (I'm an apprentice midwife, so I sometimes have to make last-minute arrangements for him if I'm at a birth). They live 1.5 miles from us, and about 4 miles from the preschool--plus they're both totally inept at installing a car seat , so I'm actually more comfortable with him riding in a booster with them than worrying that they're improperly installing his car seat.

    Someone mentioned the Frontier and Nautilus, too--which is something else we've considered for him. But, for now, the only reason I would purchase a different seat for him would be to RF him.

    And the 4-month-old should be fine in the Radian 80 for a bit. If she outgrows its RF limits before my 3-year-old outgrows the RF limit of the XTSL (which is possible, but I suspect they'll outgrow their respective seats at approximately the same time) we'll worry about it then. I may also revisit the side-impact protection issue in another 6-12 months when she's a bit taller (and could therefore benefit from the protection).

    Thanks again for all the input!

    Oh, and after a bit of playing-around, we have a good fit on the 4-month-old's Radian harness. Not sure what was up--although adjusting the harnesses on our Radians RF has always been a bit of a pain for us. Anyway, we have a secure fit now, so that's not an issue.

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