One more question about boosters - heavy booster with no LATCH

r&jsmama

New member
I asked a question a couple of days ago about boostering my tall 6.5 year old (51 inches and 60ish lbs) and got some very helpful answers on here including answers to all my follow-up questions (thank you!). I had just about decided to go with just using her Frontier 85 as a booster since it is very tall and doesn't require the car to have headrests but started to worry about how heavy it would be running her into her seatbelt in an accident (no LATCH, either, since we have fifteen-year-old cars). It seems like the company wouldn't allow unLATCHed heavy boosters if it weren't safe, but when I did a review of old forums, I found very old comments saying people wouldn't feel comfortable with that and alluding to European testing suggesting that heavy boosters are possibly less safe due to loading onto the child in an accident (this is my concern and I thought I might just be neurotic until I started reading more). One person weighed in on this on my other thread and suggested contacting the company, which I think I will do, but I know there is a lot of knowledge here and wondered if anyone else had thoughts or updated info on unLATCHed heavy boosters. Would you put your child in one? Is there any data on whether it's a bad idea? Am I just paranoid? Thank you!
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
It passes crash testing.

I personally don't prefer to do it, but it passes testing.

Now, you do need to make extra sure the child will ALWAYS buckle the seat in when not using it, or that is one heck of a projectile.
 

r&jsmama

New member
Oh, yes, we will definitely buckle whatever she's in when she's out! That part I got! Do you have any evidence for not wanting to do it or just instinct (which I'm all in favor of!)?
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
European crash tests I read result summaries for in which heavy combination seats and boosters did better with than without ISOFIX. Nothing in the US and not directly analogous. Enough to make me think I'd rather not if/when I can avoid it, with so many good, lighter options on the market.
 

CMeMeC

New member
I posted a while back with the same concern with a nautilus. I really liked the fit, but could not use latch in my vehicle. I opted for a lighter dedicated booster seat and we now have a variety of those to use instead. I understand that they pass the standards, but I was personally uncomfortable using a heavy booster without latch.
 

CarSafetyGuy

New member
I think it's fine. Yes, it's nice to have a lighter booster, but it's not going to crush her into the seat belt; I feel that would have shown up in several crash tests if the chest/torso forces were that dangerous from the additional pounds of a heavier booster.
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
Just because it passes without doesn't mean it might not pass better with. Not that we can know because NHTSA hasn't released compliance testing numbers in years now.
 

SafeDad

CPSDarren - Admin
Staff member
Consider that the booster is already in contact with the child to start and moves with the child. In a way, it's not unlike a heavier child without a booster. Perhaps there is a small risk, but I don't think you will find many studies about this to guide your decision. For me, if the booster fits correctly, works well in the vehicle and is comfortable for the child to keep them from squirming, that is what is going to protect the child from serious injury.

I used a Frontier 85 for some time as a booster in the third row of our Highlander that didn't have LATCH. It was one of the few models that worked well with the geometry of the shoulder belt.
 

Brigala

Well-known member
I feel that the "sturdiness" of the Frontier and my perception that it would do a better job of protecting against whiplash than a "lighter" booster would outweighs any concern that it might put a little more force on the child in a frontal accident.

This is specifically because you're in a situation where her head is above the vehicle's fixed head rest and therefore the only thing protecting her neck from whiplash is going to be the booster. If the booster isn't rigid, it's not likely to do a very good job, regardless of what the manufacturer "allows." We have no federal test standards that govern whiplash protection in boosters, so whether to "allow" or "disallow" use without head support from the vehicle is a matter of (hotly contested) opinion among the various booster manufacturers.

Now, whiplash is rarely fatal or even life-changing. People do recover from it. But I've had it, and dang, it hurts for a really long time. And mine was considered mild. If there's something I can do to reduce the chance that my child will ever have to experience it, I'm all for that.

I am really curious to hear what Britax says, though. Partly because I do own a Frontier and a vehicle with no lower anchor systems and someday I may be deciding whether to use it as a booster.
 

r&jsmama

New member
Thank you for all the input, everyone! Really helpful and so much to think about. I'm just entering the world of boosters and had no idea I would spend so much time this week thinking about this! At any rate, I just bought her a Parkway SG, so we'll hope that works for my car. Thank you so much for your time.
 

CarSafetyGuy

New member
Thank you for all the input, everyone! Really helpful and so much to think about. I'm just entering the world of boosters and had no idea I would spend so much time this week thinking about this! At any rate, I just bought her a Parkway SG, so we'll hope that works for my car. Thank you so much for your time.
You're welcome. Yeah, it's good that you're thinking and asking questions, but I wouldn't worry too much about this. It's safe; now make sure the driver is buckled and attentive! :D
 

henrietta

New member
Everyone has great points. I just wanted to add that you are in the position of this possibly being your ONLY option to keep this child in a high back booster (or any booster seat at all) with support up to the tops of her ears behind her. *THAT* trumps everything else, IMHO. She definitely is not safe enough without that head support. Going without it is not an option in my book at all, if there's even one seat on the market that I can purchase (and you already have the seat).

I totally agree with you on the concern. I think it's legitimate, but nothing that would keep me up at night. You have to go with the best choice under the circumstances.
 

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