How long to harness?

NatesMamma

New member
DS is pretty average size at 43" and 44 lb or so. He's 5 yr 5 mo old and harnessed in a FR90 and PN90. I could probably harness him till middle school in those seats. :p. So I'm wondering, at what age would you recommend boostering him?

Also, I know a few years ago there was some concern here about whether harnesses actually can cause injuries for older kids (age 6 or 7+) since they pin the child's body back but allow the head to snap forward. What is the current line of thinking with this?

FWIW, he's perfectly happy being harnessed; we homeschool, so we don't need to worry about quickly buckling in the drop off/pick up line at school; and DH and I drive newer cars that I feel are quite safe, with curtain airbags and such. That said, he's also quite safety conscious, and I think he would sit fine in a booster even now.

ETA: He doesn't yet meet the minimum height for boostering in his current seats, so of course he will be primarily harnessed at least until he grows that last inch or two, although I have tossed around the idea of training him in a dedicated HBB for such rare occasions as travelling.
 
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CMeMeC

New member
My older 2 kids were around 6 years old (one was 35lbs, the other over 40lbs). My middle is 6.5, she rides in a harness or booster depending on what car she is in/what I have installed for her. For me, I don't really feel like a harness is any safer or less safe than a booster (when both are acceptable options). I feel like there are pros and cons with both. I think there are many things to take into consideration. I go back and forth with my 6.5y because she likes to sleep in the car. In doing so, she slumps over. So I prefer she ride in a harness a lot because I feel like it is safer and more comfortable for HER.
 

aeormsby

New member
We didn't booster full time until they were 6. But DD started using a booster in our truck at age 5 (we'd switch it when we did a trip or longer drive) and DS was probably about 5y9m when he started using the booster in the truck. Both of them were over (or right at) 40lb when they started using boosters even part time though (with DD it was the PWSGL so the extra strap made me feel a little better about it).

So I think he's at the size & age where there's nothing wrong with getting a booster and having him use it if a carpool or other situation came up where it would be easier than moving a harnessed seat (or even full time if you wanted and he did OK).
 

joolsplus3

Admin - CPS Technician
We went back and forth from boosters to harnesses from about age 5 to 7. For the most part, the Frontiers are absolutely dreadful for kids younger than 7 to buckle, so don't rush out of the harness in those (really bulky, lots of leaning and finessing of the belt to be long enough but not pulled all the way out and locking). Harnesses, seatbelts, and tethers all stretch and there's plenty of ride down time in a 5-point, neck forces are measured in crash tests and not allowed to exceed certain levels (you even have the rip-stitch tether on the Britaxes, that really keeps the body moving as a unit). https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehic...afety-programs-testing-harness-report-923.htm "In a study on booster seats, we found that in many cars, the booster seats were not able to spread the forces of a crash or control the upper body or chest of the child dummy. This led us to ask whether children could be better protected if they stayed in children's car seats for as long as possible.."

All that said, I'm excited the Harmony Folding booster is back in stock, it's great for tossing in and out of friends' cars and folding for travel... http://www.walmart.com/ip/Harmony-Folding-Travel-Booster-Car-Seat/22301298
 

carseatmama007

New member
All that said, I'm excited the Harmony Folding booster is back in stock, it's great for tossing in and out of friends' cars and folding for travel... http://www.walmart.com/ip/Harmony-Folding-Travel-Booster-Car-Seat/22301298


I was recently going through the same "how long to harness?" debate with my daughter (who is about the same age/size as your son.. a bit lighter). She is still in a Radian FF full time, but she was in this Harmony folding travel booster mentioned above for about 2 months recently when we were in between houses living at my parents & Grandma and Granddad needed a seat for her. I love the Harmony booster! It fit her flawlessly. It looks like it has gone up a bit in price (I think we paid around $30), not sure if they've added any new features to it to explain the hike, but all around it's a great starter booster for early learners. My daughter thought it was so comfy, and she could easily buckle/unbuckle herself. So a cheap option if you want to give him a little practice! I miss that booster so much, ha, my parent's have it all the way across the country!
 

ERFmama

New member
Also, I know a few years ago there was some concern here about whether harnesses actually can cause injuries for older kids (age 6 or 7+) since they pin the child's body back but allow the head to snap forward. What is the current line of thinking with this?

I would also like to know more about this. What is the data here indeed? :)
 

newyorkDOC

New member
It's got to do with neck loads. There is an Swedish study on it but I don't have the link on my phone. If you do a search for the term here though you'll come up with quite a few threads.
 

ERFmama

New member
Thank you! A def must read! :D

I agree with the higher abdominal injury, that is a known fact, and also one of the reasons why I think it's better to have a harness choice that goes higher then 18kg in EU, because it's impossible to transfer a 2,5-3 yo safe using the adult seat belt.
I could say 4 as well, but that's in my book a bare minimum.
 

NatesMamma

New member
https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehic...afety-programs-testing-harness-report-923.htm "In a study on booster seats, we found that in many cars, the booster seats were not able to spread the forces of a crash or control the upper body or chest of the child dummy. This led us to ask whether children could be better protected if they stayed in children's car seats for as long as possible.."

Interesting reading! Thanks!

The relative safety of harness vs booster for older kids (say 5+) seems up for debate, but what I find interesting is that NHTSA is quite clear that kids under age 7-8 should stay harnessed until they outgrow the harness. Britax (and prob other manufacturers, too) might be going a little farther, even, saying that kids should stay harnessed until they outgrow the harness-- even in super high limit seats such as the Frontier/Pinnacle-- and without assigning a "maximum" age to the recommendation at all. I imagine that the truth is there is negligible difference in safety overall between the two types of *properly installed* seats for kids who are old/big/mature enough for either one, but I do find it interesting that the best practice recommendation is too booster when the child outgrows the harness, not "when the child outgrows the harness or is over age 5 AND can sit properly in a booster."

I think I'll go ahead and follow the NHTSA recommendation and harness until age 7. After that, DS can decide when to move from harness to booster. At this point, I just don't feel like we have a compelling reason to booster (although I do feel motivated to use the harness for awhile to recoup some of the cost of those seats! LOL), and I believe the evidence says harnessing is *at least* as safe as boostering, even for bigger kids.

Thanks again for the replies!
 

Stacy

New member
In my experience, I find the harness to be a lot more convenient. My daughter is almost 6 and also has a Frontier as her main seat. She can do the buckle on her own, and we never need to adjust the harness so she gets in and out pretty fast. She can use a booster in other cars, but just like your son my daughter is perfectly happy in harness. I don't have an age goal for her but I think your plan til 7 sounds very reasonable :).
 

newyorkDOC

New member
The TWE harnesses both RF and FF until 25 kg. It is the only seat in Europe at the moment that harnesses beyond 18 kg.

My daughter is 5.5 and weighs 17 kg. A 18 kg 2 yo would probably be concerning.
 

Keeyamah

Active member
The TWE harnesses both RF and FF until 25 kg. It is the only seat in Europe at the moment that harnesses beyond 18 kg. My daughter is 5.5 and weighs 17 kg. A 18 kg 2 yo would probably be concerning.

If I did my conversion correctly, that is approx 39lbs (18X2.2=39.6). My oldest was ~35lbs at 2 and 40lbs(and 40") at 2.5. But he is in the 90-95% for growth. My youngest is in the 60% and is 29lbs and just turned 2. So maybe not as concerning, if the height is following the weight, as it does with my oldest.
 

amandaj553

New member
I am having this same debate with myself, and I'm happy to hear other's view points.

My DS is 5 years, 10 months, and 45" tall, 44lbs. He is generally in a Nautilus or a Frontier 85, although currently he's riding in his little sister's Frontier 90. He can do the harnesses by himself, but wants to ride in a booster. We have the Harmony Folding Booster, and his fit is very good. He's pretty good at riding in it, until he gets cranky/excited/fussy with his sister, then he leans a little bit. So, we usually keep the booster in Grandpa's car for occasional rides, or I send it with him to his Dad's b/c it's more fool-proof than installation. He actually sleeps very well in it.

I think we will keep harnessing for now, and perhaps be ready for full time boostering by 1st grade (in another year).

Meanwhile, I'm researching the best latchable boosters, and hoping something new comes out!
 

rachelandtyke

Well-known member
I'm starting the debate for DS. Have a year to decide. His seats will expire next summer when he will be 6y1m. DD1 started booster training at 6y6m and was full time boostered by 7, so I had assumed I'd do the same with DS. He just turned ffing in June!

I can give him DD1s Vivo, so we have a seat that would fit him well. It makes more sense to me booster him at that point than to buy a new seat that won't be used very long.

We will most likely be traveling by air at the end of that year, and it would be so much easier if he was used to being in a booster by then and could take just 2 boosters and one convertible (plus easier to get 3 across in the car when we get there).
 

bnsnyde

New member
Mine just turned 5. He is 46 lbs. and I don't know how tall (on the taller side). He's in a Radian but next year I plan to put him in the Frontier90 when we pass it down. Then he can stay there for, however long. I don't know. Currently 8 YO is harnessed in it. He will need to be 2nd row for school drop-off.

In the meantime (this week) I am moving 3 YO to the Radian since he needs to go FF due to weight, and then 5 YO...I'll think about a new seat for this year until he uses the Frontier. Always fun to get a new seat!
 

stayinhomewithmy6

Senior Community Member
I'm starting the debate for DS. Have a year to decide. His seats will expire next summer when he will be 6y1m. DD1 started booster training at 6y6m and was full time boostered by 7, so I had assumed I'd do the same with DS. He just turned ffing in June!

I can give him DD1s Vivo, so we have a seat that would fit him well. It makes more sense to me booster him at that point than to buy a new seat that won't be used very long.

We will most likely be traveling by air at the end of that year, and it would be so much easier if he was used to being in a booster by then and could take just 2 boosters and one convertible (plus easier to get 3 across in the car when we get there).


6y1m is the exact age Z was when he switched to a booster full time. I wasn't planning on it happening until he turned 7, but when DH crashed our van, it put me in the situation of having to put him in our temporary booster until we got things worked out. Temporarily turned into about 2 weeks and then when I was able to put him back into a harnessed seat, he was so sad, he cried and cried about it! He's big for his age (57 lbs, 48.5"), and he sits SO well in the booster that I felt like it would be punishing him to put him back in a harnessed seat when he felt so strongly about it. This is the youngest that any of my kids have made this transition.
 

HONEYhas3

CPST Instructor
DS is 7.9yo 42lbs and 44 inches.
He uses a Parkway for in and around the city, but if we will be driving around for linger than 20-30 minutes, he goes into the FRXT that I keep installed in the 3rd row. He get restless and is a huge car sleeper. .... we joke that he has vehicle narcolepsy. He sleep more often than not.
Not sure yet when we will completely make the switch, he is tiny, with 2-3 yrs of growing room left in harness mode of the FRXT.
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Interesting reading! Thanks!

The relative safety of harness vs booster for older kids (say 5+) seems up for debate, but what I find interesting is that NHTSA is quite clear that kids under age 7-8 should stay harnessed until they outgrow the harness.

I wish I knew the basis of this recommendation by the NHTSA and AAP. Perhaps it's mainly for consistency in message? Don't graduate your child too early, regardless?

At least for rear-facing, at least we have one major, published study. That study, and many advocates, also quickly point to Sweden's low fatality numbers as a basis for extended rear-facing. Of course, Sweden has no comparative information and a lot of other differences that make true comparisons very difficult.

It's hard to point to Sweden as a basis for rear-facing and then claim that forward-facing harnesses are safer than boosters, given that kids in Sweden transition directly from rear-facing into boosters. So, they have no data for this, either.

Forward-facing 5-point harness seats may well turn out to be a safer option, it would just be nice to know why we are moving to this recommendation. For squirmy and immature kids, it's always nice to have the option of high weight harness seats, but for most older kids, is it really providing a a major benefit over an inexpensive booster seat?

Either way, correct installation and use are the key. A booster relies more upon the child to be used correctly, while the harnessed seat relies more upon the parent. If the child isn't remaining seated correctly, the choice is clear! If they do sit well in the booster, they have proven to be very effective at reducing injury.
 

Kel

Well-known member
I don't think head loads are something to completely ignore. My son for instance is 4 yrs 3 months, he has an above average head, lol. It makes me nervous to think of his neck/head if an accident were to happen. He's harness in my van and will be for awhile. But not until he out grows the seat.
 

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