Question Neck pain while riding in car seat


New member

I'm hoping the experienced people in this forum can help me with a problem we've been having for several months: every time we're in the car for more than 15 minutes or so, my 5-year-old says that her neck hurts. I've tried supporting her neck with travel pillows, and also those cushions you velcro onto the harness straps, but so far we've had no improvement.

My daughter is 5.5 years old, about 42 inches tall, 40 pounds, and rides forward-facing in a Diono Radian. The Radian is supposed to last us through her booster years (it was manufactured in 2013), and so I wasn't planning to replace it. On the other hand, the Radian is huge and heavy, and if I thought it would help this problem we're having, I wouldn't mind getting a new seat, maybe a light one that's just a high-back booster. But I know that kids should stay in the harness as long as possible, and with a 65-pound limit, she's likely to be within that limit until she's nine! We need to solve this problem sooner than four years from now! :)

Thanks so much for any ideas.



New member
I guess it has wings— the ones that are on either side of the kid’s head? Yes. We have the RXT, I believe. Should I push the wings in closer to her head?


Well-known member
How close are her shoulders to the wings? If they are close, it’s possible she’s outgrowing it and the wings are pushing on her shoulders, causing neck strain.


Active member
The wings on one of my Radians had a bad habit of sliding down, so I would have to check them weekly at least to push them back up where they belonged.


CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Many 5 and a half year olds are booster-ready, so if she IS outgrowing the seat I might try a booster and see if she's ready. There's no evidence that a 5 year old who can sit properly and fits a booster well is less safe than in a harness. Otherwise, there are cheap seats with taller harnesses that might buy you time. My kids had all outgrown the Radian by that age.


New member
Thanks, everyone! Some more info: the wings on either side of her head are quite a bit above her shoulders, so I don't think they're pressing on her. I also don't think she's straining her neck to see, because the pain has been such a problem that she'd do anything to avoid it. So when I tell her to try to just lean back and relax in her seat, she does. I think if this were a problem she could fix by changing her behavior, she would!

But now I'm wondering: since the Radian RXT can also be used as a booster, it can't hurt to try using it that way, right? Although I guess it isn't likely to help.


CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
She doesn't meet the minimums to use that seat as a booster, and I wouldn't recommend it in most cases anyway- it can be hard to use properly in booster mode due to the way slack often catches in the belt guide, even if fit is good (it often isn't.)

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