Question RF height max., adding top tether anchors, narrowest FF seats.

jrp236

New member
I am trying to figure out what my options are for putting as many kids into my van as possible. I have a dayhome, so I potentially could have six, although right now I'm only at four kids (currently two 3.5 year olds (both 34lbs), one 23 months (22lbs) and one 22 months (26lbs)). I hope it's okay to put all my questions in one post, since they are somewhat related. Oh, and I'm in Canada.

First issue: My Sceneras both state a maximum RF limit of 32 inches. (I know the minimum for FF is 34 in the States, so what's up with that? What a stupid rule!) One of my kiddos is just barely 22lbs clothed, but is pushing the 32 inches. I don't want to flip him, both for safety and for convenience and because I'm short on top tether anchors. Do other RF seats have this same maximum?

Second issue: I drive a 2005 Montana. I have 4 factory installed top tether anchors, 3 in the second row, but only one in the third row. I'd much rather have more FF seats in the third row than the second, for ease of access. I'm also going to have a newborn in August, and I'd rather not have to lift him/her up over a million seats (on top of worrying about where the FF kids are standing while I do it) just because I have to have the RF seats in the back. Can more anchors be installed? Do top tethers have to have 'official' anchors, or can they be anchored to any suitable location? (I'm assuming not, but I can always hope) I'm also thinking long term - when all these little ones need to be FF, I'll need more anchors if I don't want to put them in boosters too soon!

Third: If I CAN get more anchors in the third row, I'm going to need some fairly narrow seats to fit. I know the Radian is narrow, but which other FF (hopefully less expensive) seats are? If I CANNOT get more anchors, I'm going to need high RF height/weight seats and then eventually boosters that will puzzle together in the third row. Any suggestions?

I hope that wasn't too confusing. Thanks to anyone who made it through all that and might have some suggestions for me.

Joanne
 
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snowbird25ca

Moderator - CPST Instructor
I am trying to figure out what my options are for putting as many kids into my van as possible. I have a dayhome, so I potentially could have six, although right now I'm only at four kids (currently two 3.5 year olds (both 34lbs), one 23 months (22lbs) and one 22 months (26lbs)). I hope it's okay to put all my questions in one post, since they are somewhat related. Oh, and I'm in Canada.

First issue: My Sceneras both state a maximum RF limit of 32 inches. (I know the minimum for FF is 34 in the States, so what's up with that? What a stupid rule!) One of my kiddos is just barely 22lbs clothed, but is pushing the 32 inches. I don't want to flip him, both for safety and for convenience and because I'm short on top tether anchors. Do other RF seats have this same maximum?
Manufacturers are required to state the size of child the seat is designed to fit. Some manufacturers choose to give a separate rf'ing and ff'ing height, while others give one height limit and tell parents there must be 1" of hard shell above the head when using the seat rf'ing. The 32" that some companies have chosen to use seems to be a pretty arbitrary number - even tall torso'ed kids won't outgrow a Scenera, Marathon, or Radian before hitting 32"...

At any rate, the most important factors in determining if a rf'ing seat still fits are the child's weight, and how the child fits the seat. A child under 22lbs absolutely cannot use the Scenera ff'ing. As long as there is at least 1" of hard shell above the child's head then the child still fits the seat by height.

Second issue: I drive a 2005 Montana. I have 4 factory installed top tether anchors, 3 in the second row, but only one in the third row. I'd much rather have more FF seats in the third row than the second, for ease of access. I'm also going to have a newborn in August, and I'd rather not have to lift him/her up over a million seats (on top of worrying about where the FF kids are standing while I do it) just because I have to have the RF seats in the back. Can more anchors be installed? Do top tethers have to have 'official' anchors, or can they be anchored to any suitable location? (I'm assuming not, but I can always hope) I'm also thinking long term - when all these little ones need to be FF, I'll need more anchors if I don't want to put them in boosters too soon!
In the vast majority of cases - yours included, vehicles which come from the factory with top tether anchors already installed cannot have more added.

Top tethers must be 'official' anchors. Tether anchor locations are specified by CMVSS standards in regards to type of hardware, anchorage points, and the weight the anchor must be able to bear. Using an unapproved anchor could result in the anchor failing and becoming a projectile.

What a lot of people end up doing with babies in bucket seats is lifting them in from the tailgate and just over the back of the 3rd row. It's not that easy or convenient, but may be easier than over the 2nd row.

The 2yr olds are pretty light for their age and will fit rf'ing for probably another year I'm guessing - or at least the younger one will. I don't see you needing more than the 4 tether anchors before the 3.5yr olds are ready for boosters if baby fits rf for 2yrs as well. Realistically the 3.5 yr olds are probably about 1.5 to 2yrs away from being in a booster full time unless there is some sort of special need behavior wise requiring they continue to be harnessed. It might be more difficult in terms of loading and unloading all the kids, but with the age spacing you should end up with the oldest kids being big enough and old enough to be safely in a booster before the soon to arrive infant needs a top tether anchor.

Third: If I CAN get more anchors in the third row, I'm going to need some fairly narrow seats to fit. I know the Radian is narrow, but which other FF (hopefully less expensive) seats are? If I CANNOT get more anchors, I'm going to need high RF height/weight seats and then eventually boosters that will puzzle together in the third row. Any suggestions?

I hope that wasn't too confusing. Thanks to anyone who made it through all that and might have some suggestions for me.

Joanne
The Scenera is actually quite narrow and has a decent top harness height so you'll probably have 1 or 2 kids that will fit it at the same time. As of the end of December 2008, Scenera and the other Dorel/Cosco/Safety 1st convertible seats are being manufactured with a 35lb rf'ing limit. A 35lb rf'ing limit will be plenty of time and the Scenera won't break the bank either. Your other option is one of the updated alpha omega elite or eddie bauer 3in1's. The AOE is available at wal-mart for $122 right now. When installed without the base it tends to be pretty narrow, the top harness height is taller than the MA, and it has a 50lb ff'ing weight limit. So you could count on your kids making it to a booster age in that seat just because they're not on the high end of the weight charts. Most kids don't get a good seatbelt fit when using the 3in1 as a booster, so you'd still want to plan to buy another booster after, but it would be an inexpensive option for present anyways.

I think that addresses most of your questions, feel free to ask if there's more or you need clarification. :)
 

jrp236

New member
Thanks for the reply!

At any rate, the most important factors in determining if a rf'ing seat still fits are the child's weight, and how the child fits the seat. A child under 22lbs absolutely cannot use the Scenera ff'ing. As long as there is at least 1" of hard shell above the child's head then the child still fits the seat by height.
Unfortunately, if the manual says 32inches, that's what I have to do. When my own daughter (one of the 3.5 year olds) was RF in the Scenera, I just ignored the stupid rule and went on my merry ERF way. With someone else's child in my dayhome, I have to follow the manufacture's stated limits, whether I agree with them or not. I'll have to find out which seats don't have this limit.

I
n the vast majority of cases - yours included, vehicles which come from the factory with top tether anchors already installed cannot have more added.
Darn, that's what I was afraid of! I guess we'll be crawling over each other after all.

What a lot of people end up doing with babies in bucket seats is lifting them in from the tailgate and just over the back of the 3rd row. It's not that easy or convenient, but may be easier than over the 2nd row.
I thought of that, but I'm one of those odd creatures who HATES infant seats. My kids come home from the hospital in Sceneras. Or maybe a Radian for this one if that ends up being the best seat for me to buy. I can't imagine lugging around a heavy infant seat on top of dealing with 4 other little ones! I expect this baby will be in the sling even more than my first!

The 2yr olds are pretty light for their age and will fit rf'ing for probably another year I'm guessing - or at least the younger one will. I don't see you needing more than the 4 tether anchors before the 3.5yr olds are ready for boosters if baby fits rf for 2yrs as well.
True. If it comes down to it, I guess I don't HAVE to harness to 65lbs, since they are pretty lightweights.
The Scenera is actually quite narrow and has a decent top harness height
If the Scenera is one of the narrow seats, I guess it doesn't matter that I don't have more tether anchors, because I'll never get 3 seats back there anyway. I can't put two Sceneras side by side and still reach the seatbelt stalks to buckle them in (one seat would be sitting on the seatbelt, which I assume is a no-no). And forget a third seat.

So, now I just need a high weight limit RF seat with no arbitrary RF height limit. Maybe I'll check out the TruFit since it's on sale at Zellers. Since width is no longer a consideration now that I have no hope of fitting 3 across anyway!

Thanks again for giving me things to think about. I guess I didn't have any more questions, but replying back helped me clarify my thinking.
 

snowbird25ca

Moderator - CPST Instructor
Thanks for the reply!



Unfortunately, if the manual says 32inches, that's what I have to do. When my own daughter (one of the 3.5 year olds) was RF in the Scenera, I just ignored the stupid rule and went on my merry ERF way. With someone else's child in my dayhome, I have to follow the manufacture's stated limits, whether I agree with them or not. I'll have to find out which seats don't have this limit.
The True Fit is the only seat rated to 35lbs rf'ing and with no numerical rf'ing height limit.

I will say that even if the child is over 32", if he/she is under 22lbs, you absolutely cannot ff him/her in the Scenera. While it may seem like 6 of one half dozen of the other, weight trumps the 32" every time provided the child still has 1" of hard shell above their head.

More companies need to get with the program and realize there are a lot of kids who surpass 32" before reaching 22lbs. Both of my kids did. :rolleyes:

I think the Radian may be a little narrower than the Scenera - it's worth trying out anyways if you have a store near you that carries it. Sometimes just adding 1 radian in to the mix is enough to get the 3 across.
 

mommycat

Well-known member
Did anyone mention the Graco CarGo yet? I believe that it is a narrow combination seat which harnesses FF to 48 lbs (17" THS) and then turns into an "ok" booster (whatever this actually means - I have never met one in person yet). I think it is something like 16.5" wide? So a hair narrower than the Radian? Someone please correct me if I am wrong. (Make sure to get an upfront adjust model.)
 

jrp236

New member
Thanks Cat, I'll look into it.

For now part of my issue is solved because one of 3.5 yr olds is moving to a different daycare.

Also, my little guy who is almost reaching that silly height limit turns 2 next month, so I'll wait till his check up to get accurate height/weight and then make a decision. That will give me a few weeks to do some more investigating.

Joanne
 

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