Question Best booster for rare "emergency" use until my almost 4 y.o. grows into it?


New member
Hello all,

First, thanks for being such an awesomely helpful community!

My son will be four in September and is of fairly average, fit build (about 34-35 lbs and about 39 inches, depending on what that last growth spurt added!). He rides front-facing (was RF until last December) in a Diono Radian XTSL in my 2011 Toyota Camry (from which, by the way, the top tether seemingly cannot be removed!!! Gah. The U-bracket it hooked onto is too wide - none of us can jimmy it off!). He also rides FF in grandpa's ?2006? Honda Accord (4-dr) at least weekly, in a Britax Marathon, which it seems he'll outgrow sooner than the Radian.

I want a back-up seat for use by grandma/aunt (both have mid-sized SUVs like Lexus RS350/Acura MDX) on the rare occasions they might need it (haven't yet, would be some kind of an emergency), with the assumption the back-up could replace the Britax or his Radian when he outgrows them. Because it would be rarely used and I'm not made o' money, I'm thinking of buying a booster he could grow into.

I'd probably like one with a 5-point harness, for safety, but I'm not sure which would actually have a longer life (if needed?) than the Britax/Radian so I'm not 100% married to the idea of it having a harness.

I also like the head support he gets when sleeping in the Radian, especially on long trips (we drive 3-5 hours at least a few times a year), but maybe he would be fine without it in the booster because he'll be bigger by then...

What's the most bang for my buck, and what makes the most sense given this will rarely (if ever!) be used until he's outgrown one of his current seats?

Suggestions? Did I miss any key pieces of info?

Last edited:


Carseat Crankypants
Re: Best booster for almost 4 y.o. of avg. height?

A 3yo, or a new 4yo, should be in a harnessed seat. I would recommend looking only at combination harness-to-booster seats.

The Graco Nautilus, Evenflo SecureKid, and Harmony Defender are combination seats that are usually reasonably priced.


New member
Hi - agreed almost entirely - he absolutely will be in a harnessed seat unless it was an emergency where grandpa couldn't be my backup, so we're talking about a rare occurence that hasn't happened even once yet.

Do you, or anyone else, have any insight into whether there's a 5-point harness seat that fits kids as tall as the better belt-positioning boosters? I'm hesitant to buy a 5-point for such an oddball situation that may never come up if it wouldn't last as long due to height restrictions etc. Does that make sense?

Thanks so much!


New member
Thanks very much for the ideas! I've started looking into both of them and they both look like good possibilities (and the Harmony is cheap! geez...). I'm especially thankful for your suggestions because I wasn't really looking at "3-in-1"s in general.


Ambassador - CPS Technician
While I agree generally with the above posters, I'm going to suggest an inexpensive, well-fitting high back booster for your emergency seat. One that has a 30lbs min weight.

Many 'other' caregivers, especially ones that only occasionally are transporting the child, are not proficient at installing. And when this occurs, it's questionable whether a harnessed seat really IS safer than a booster used correctly.

When I was in this situation of needing to leave a booster for true emergency rides, I fitted my ds in it then took a picture of how the belt should look, printed it and attached it to the booster. So whomever needed to grab the seat could see how it was supposed to be.

The Graco Turbobooster (high back) does fit smaller kids well and has a 30lbs min weight. It would be a good choice.

Then when you're done with your harnessed seats in your every day cars, purchase something for daily use. Even when that happens, you'll STILL need an emergency seat.

Just one option.


New member
For removing the top tether- loosen the strap, push the smaller retaining clip in and rotate the end that is attached to the webbing upwards towards the top of the car. It should come off easier like that.


Moderator - CPS Technician
While a Turbo fit my DS great at barely 4yo and 30# (he was still rfing in a Britax Marathon) he wasn't mature enough for one even as an emergency at that age. I had a TB for my older daughter in my car. One day I needed to pick him up from daycare and meet my mom who had went to the ER with my younger daughter. Since he was supposed to be picked up by my mom, his seat was with her. I picked him up in the TB thinking it would be fine for the 3 miles to the ER.

Usually, he was a chatterbox, telling me about his day, from the moment I picked him up, so his silence rubbed me wrong. I pulled over under a streetlight (it was dark) and turned to find that he had wrapped the shoulder belt around his neck 3 times and couldn't breathe.

Since it was an emergency, I didn't take time to do any training with him about what he should/shouldn't do in a booster. He was amped up from the change in routine, I was distracted because there was an emergency, and the end result was not anywhere near what I had thought it would be.

That incident taught me that an emergency is the absolute worst time to try to booster train a child (and also, young kids will play with seatbelts and wrap them around their necks if they can get to them). If you are going to use an Emergency Booster, you need to train for it the same as for any other emergency situation. If he's not ready to train, pick a different emergency plan.

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