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  1. #1
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    Why don't they harness FF in Sweden? (Harness vs booster for 4 year old)

    It seems that the general consensus here on this board is that a harness is better until the kid is 6 or so right? Is it purely from the standpoint that most 4-5 year olds aren't mature enough to sit still? Is a *properly used* booster actually less safe than a 5pt harness? It seems like there would be more user error with a harnessed seat... The straps not being tight enough is a common problem in our house, mostly with my husband (who thinks he's hurting DS), but even I sometimes notice later that what I thought was a tight fit really wasn't.

    I guess I'm having a hard time getting all this sorted out in my head. We were going to get a Nautilus this summer (DS will be 4) once we pass his Radian XT to his little sister... I know this is kind of a cosmetic issue but darn it I LOVE the Cybex boosters (especially the carribean color). If I buy a Nautilus, that's is, I will not be able to convince DH that we need to get a dedicated booster later on. I'm really bummed about that.

    What I really want is a Cybex Pallas, but I can't afford the $350 to get one shipped LOL

    Anywho... Thoughts?
    Last edited by jackthlion; 05-24-2010 at 11:05 AM.

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  3. #2
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    The thought from the Swedes is that you want the head to move with the body, rather than the body being held back by a harness and the head moving independently.

    Keep in mind, though, that they rear face to 4-6 years old. So it's not at all uncommon for a child to be mature enough when they go forward facing. It's probably a small portion of their population who isn't yet ready.

    Here, though, we have too many kids moving forward facing too soon to have no harnessing be a reality. Until the bones ossify the neck is at danger. The Swedes don't disagree with this, they just keep the kids rear facing that long. At four years the risks seem to go down, but it's not until six that the bones are ossified. And yes, between five and six seems to be when a lot of kids have the maturity and size for a booster.

    In the US we not only harness but encourage tethering forward facing. In Canada it's required by law for all forward facing seats. The thinking here is that less movement is better as that protects the spine from impacts within the car, as well as keeps everything moving a little less. And yes, the harness takes the wiggle aspect out of it.

    However, there are no studies showing that harnesses are safer (race car drivers use harnesses, but they also have HANS and are going at 200 mph). There are no studies showing that a booster is better. Flight attendants wear harnesses, but that's probably just so that they're more likely to be where they think they are after a crash and they can therefore help people better. Not so much a safety aspect.

    There is one study showing that kids under the age of five are more likely to have head and neck injuries in a booster (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd.../05-0330-O.pdf), but that's it. And it doesn't compare rear and forward facing harnesses, just rear facing to boosters.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 61", 99#, seatbelt
    laine 9/16/09, 46", 54#, Diono Monterey, Chicco KidFit Zip Air
    in a 2015 BMW M235i, and my 2011 Mercedes E350 wagon


  4. #3
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    Thanks Wendy. I guess it's still kind of a gray area then? That link is an interesting read but doesn't help a whole lot because it's rear-facing versus FF booster and we all know who wins there! We really do need to keep DS FF now though, either in a booster or harness, so I'm trying to find some solid reasons why one is better than the other. I've seen a lot of people saying harness because it "feels" safer but the neck issue bothers me. Like you said, it seems like there would be a lot more stress on the neck in a harnessed seat than in a booster.
    Alyssa
    mom to 3 - DS (8.5 in a TB), DS (almost 4 & 33lbs in a RF Radian XT... had him forward but changed my mind and he's back again, yay!) and DD (25 months & 25lbs RF in an Alma MyRide)

  5. #4
    Carseat Crankypants carseatcoach's Avatar
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    If he's still three, I'd keep him in a harness for at least another year. Almost no 3yos and very few 4yos are developmentally ready to be in charge of their own safety.
    CPST and Mama to a 13yo girl, 5-stepped at age 10 and 5'

    Posted from my toaster using a PopTart

  6. #5
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden? (Harness vs booster for 4 year old)

    Proper use is the big key. If you know your child restraint is correctly installed in the back seat and properly used at the time of a crash, then just about any child restraint that is listed for your child's age/weight/height will provide a great deal of protection.

    More points of restraint generally provide an advantage in a crash. The closer an occupant is coupled to the vehicle, the better. The unknown is how much safer one type of seat is compared to another, particularly when the seats are installed and used correctly.

    Most fatalities in the USA are due to unsrestrained passengers and crashes involving someone driving under the influence. There are also a good deal from rollovers, a problem common due to the large percentage of pickup trucks and truck-based SUVs that we have in the USA. I understand that in Sweden, laws regarding driving under the influence are extremely strict. They also apparently are much better eductated about keeping their kids restrained and have a newer and smaller vehicle fleet that is generally safer than ours overall. Combined, those factors help a great deal. Because of these other variables, I suspect that the choice of whether to have a 4 year old RF, FF or in a booster would not be a major risk factor in Sweden for the typical parent as it could be in the USA.

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  8. #6
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    Quote Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
    If he's still three, I'd keep him in a harness for at least another year. Almost no 3yos and very few 4yos are developmentally ready to be in charge of their own safety.
    I do appreciate your concern, but that's why I specified a "properly used booster" in my original post. Of course I'm not going to go out and start suggesting that 4 year olds are all capable of riding in a booster.

    Right now as it stands, the main reason I can understand for pushing harness over booster is because to be implemented across a large audience, it's safer to suggest a harness due to the high chance of people misreading their child's booster readiness cues. Right? That's totally understandable but doesn't answer my original question, which is if a 4 year old IS developmentally ready and could use either, which would perform better in a crash?
    Alyssa
    mom to 3 - DS (8.5 in a TB), DS (almost 4 & 33lbs in a RF Radian XT... had him forward but changed my mind and he's back again, yay!) and DD (25 months & 25lbs RF in an Alma MyRide)

  9. #7
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    We don't know.

    What we do know, from interacting with our own kids and other kids, is that most four year olds aren't ready. Maybe as they approach their fifth birthday, yes. But just turned four year olds? No. My daughter started riding in a booster on occasion when she was 4.5 years old. I had had knee surgery and could not install a harnessed seat, drive, and my neighbors weren't trustworthy to install a seat. So at 30 pounds and 4.5 years old a booster became her best option. And she sat fine as we got a ride to my doctor and PT appointments.

    Then as she got older and started riding longer times in the booster it became clear that after 10 minutes she wasn't good. She'd fiddle and wiggle, she'd show friends or me what you're not supposed to do while riding in a booster. She'd slump without the benefit of a crotch strap. Even with a locked belt she'd lean to one side and put herself out of position. It took 2.5 years before my child was ready for a booster full time. And twice since she loved to a booster at seven years old I've threatened her to go back into a harness if she can't sit properly. She comes to carseat checks with me, she knows what's going on. She honestly knows far more about carseats than your average parent on the street. I could put her down in the carseat aisle of BRU and have her give out appropriate advice to the people she met there. But she could not ride full time in a booster until she was seven.

    If he is honestly ready at four years old then we don't know which way is better. If you're thinking booster then I'd recommend making sure there's a harness backup available, but start with short trips in the booster. See how he does. Then elongate the trips. If he honestly does sit properly and in position for the whole ride, without slumping, slouching, leaning, or anything, then he can stay in a booster full time. Otherwise he may get a booster for carpools or quick trips, but a harness if it's going to be a longer ride.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 61", 99#, seatbelt
    laine 9/16/09, 46", 54#, Diono Monterey, Chicco KidFit Zip Air
    in a 2015 BMW M235i, and my 2011 Mercedes E350 wagon


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  11. #8
    CPSDarren - Admin SafeDad's Avatar
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    Correctly used and positioned at the time of a crash, I doubt there is much difference one way or the other in a frontal crash, at least theoretically. A backless booster could even have a slight advantage in terms of head excursion, if only because the child sits closer to the vehicle seat back.

    In a side impact or rollover, I would think a 5-point harness has a real theoretical advantage, though how significant I do not know. More points of restraint means better coupling to the vehicle in any case, and the addition of the shell and energy abosrbing padding can be an added benefit, too. If you have a model like the Britax Advocate that has enhanced side impact safety features, there may be even more of a benefit.

    My 5-year old rides in a booster now and then, but he tends to be too squirmy to use one daily, especially if his siblings are in the car.

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  13. #9
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    For what it's worth I'm not in a huge hurry to move DS to a booster, I just wanted to make sure when I do make the decision that it's grounded in fact (or at least good-sounding theory) rather than a "feeling" about which was better.

    I have a Scenara I could use for awhile as DD is outgrowing her Roundabout (rather than moving her up to the Radian)... I'm not a huge fan of it (so flimsy compared to the Radian or Britax seats!), but doing that I could keep DS in the Radian for another 6 months and reevaluate then.

    Thanks everyone.
    Alyssa
    mom to 3 - DS (8.5 in a TB), DS (almost 4 & 33lbs in a RF Radian XT... had him forward but changed my mind and he's back again, yay!) and DD (25 months & 25lbs RF in an Alma MyRide)

  14. #10
    CPS Technician bobandjess99's Avatar
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    Re: Why don't they harness FF in Sweden?

    I just wanted to say that even if you do get a nautilus, I wouldn't count on being to use it in booster mode anyway. Sadly, the beltpath does not always keep the lap belt down where it needs to be, so some people using nauti's have to buy a dedicated booster later on anyway. For example, my dd is going to be switched to a different booster here soon, because the nautilus does not fit well at ALL in my car as a booster for her.
    In fact - MANY of the combo boosters do not necesarily work well as boosters. So just because you buy a seat that CAN convert to a booster, doesn't mean it will be a GOOD, well-fitting booster. And of course, we would never advise you to use a booster that doesn't fit well and position the lap belt appropriately.
    So that's something to think about.

    Alex, 8 Katie, 12 and Jan/Feb 2017

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