View Full Version : Need help with selecting a booster carseat ASAP

01-08-2006, 06:20 PM
My DD is 5.5 years old, but is tall and skinny (47" tall and 40 lbs). She's been using the Evenflo Comet for the past 2 years and her shoulders are currently right at the top harness slot. She started kindergarten last August and has been asking to be switched to a BPB like the other kids. She rarely falls asleep in the car, but does on long trips or late at night, so in the Comet, her head slumps forward and looks very uncomfortable.

I noticed that Toddler Bargains 2nd ed. has the Graco TurboBooster listed as the Best Bet, but I was thinking that it may be a little dated since that ed. came out almost 2 years ago. I've looked at the Graco TurboBooster and Evenflo Big Kid Booster, which have the open loop design. My DD liked the Graco TB (probably because it had a pink flower print on it!). Are there any other seats I should be considering? Also, when should kids be using a backless booster, which I noticed most, if not all, BPB have that option?

I should also mention that I drive a 2005 Volvo XC90 that has an integrated booster in the center seat of the 2nd row. My DD has used it a few times and really liked it. Is this as safe or safer than using a BPB?

Thank you in advance for your advice!

01-08-2006, 06:33 PM
You could look at the Britax Parkway which comes in the Tiffany print and is VERY girly! The Recaros have side impact protection. Since she does fall asleep on long trips, having a seat with "wings" would be a benefit so she doesn't slump and it keeps her in position *if* there was ever an accident.

The integrated boosters are plenty safe for her to use. The only problem is---it's only in your car, what will she use in Grandma's and friends.


01-09-2006, 01:22 PM
Thank you, Susan! I can't seem to find the Britax Parkway in the Tiffany print locally. I see it online, but would prefer to have my DD try it out first. Does the Parkway convert to a backless booster? It doesn't look like it and there's no mention of it on their website. Also, it doesn't look like the Recaros offer any type of girly print. My DD will definitely have a problem with that! However, I will have the final say and her safety is my #1 priority.

Does the Graco TurboBooster have wings that provide any sleeping support or will her head slump forward?

I'm not planning on using my integrated booster in my car in lieu of a BPB since, just like you said, it's only in my car. The integrated booster is nice to have just in case one of her friends rides in my car and I won't have to worry about moving their carseat.

01-09-2006, 04:26 PM
I think you can only get the Tiffany print by ordering online. But, you could try her in a Parkway in Target or BRU just to see how you like it, then order the Tiffany. Most online orders are filled quickly but make sure it is in stock first. The Parkway does not convert to a backless booster but a high back is safer anyway. The TurboBooster has wings but is not tested for side impact protection like the Parkway is although it is still a good booster.
Melinda (mom to Sarah, Kaylee, Jayci, & Davis)
(and grandma to Katie)

01-09-2006, 06:06 PM
I agree with all of that. The Parkway does not convert to a backless booster, but if she does end up needing one down the road you can get one for $15. Personally, the Parkway is my favorite. Some Targets carry the Parkway, so you can go and have her sit in it and tell you what it's like. Toys R Us and Babies R Us and higher end baby stores will let you try it in your car. Show her the girly print online first if you need to convince her that she won't be getting a "boy" seat. If you have The Right Start near you, they carry the Parkway as well. Also the PW looks to have better wings for head support on those trips where she does sleep.


01-12-2006, 12:07 AM
I ended up buying the Graco TB yesterday at BRU instead of the Parkway because my DD didn't like the lack of armrests and the wings obstructed her view. I figured that she rides in my car 99% of the time and she would be well protected with my side curtain airbags.

Unfortunately, I encountered a problem. I didn't think to try the TB or PW in my car before I made my purchase since I had both of my kids in tow and didn't think it would be an issue. I put TB together today and found that its head support hits against my car headrest, so it's preventing the TB from sitting flush against the seat back. The car headrest cannot be adjusted. The TB manual indicates that the booster seat must fit tight against the car seat back and not hang over the front of the seat. TB doesn't hang over the seat, but there's up to an inch gap behind the shoulder area. I didn't have this problem with the Comet since it's shorter.

Does anyone have any advice as to what to do? Does this gap compromise safety?

I'm tempted to dismantle the TB and return it, but then what booster would I get?? Does the PW have a similar fit since it has the same type of head support shape? Does anyone have any experience with this?

I'm getting frustrated... Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

01-12-2006, 06:26 PM
Try turning the head rest on the car around. It doesn't decrease the safety and it may give you the room you need. If that doesn't work, then you probably need a different seat.


01-14-2006, 01:25 AM
Thanks for the suggestion, Susan! Unfortunately, the headrests cannot be adjusted (i.e., turned around) or removed. They only flip forward to fold the seat down. I double checked with my Volvo dealership today and they confirmed it.

I spent my entire morning searching for other BPBs at four different stores (of course, one store didn't have all of them!). I tried the Britax PW, Combi Kobuk and Compass B500, but all had the same issue as the Graco TB with not sitting flush against the seat back due to the car headrest.

During my search, I discovered that Volvo makes a booster seat, but it even left a slight gap (about 1/2") behind the shoulder area which a service advisor and parts dept person couldn't explain other than it's a universal seat to fit all Volvo car models. I was tempted to buy the Volvo booster despite it's high price ($150!) and hideous color (royal blue with polka dots), but was afraid that my DD would outgrow it quickly and the fact that they couldn't tell me if it would fit in non-Volvo cars (DD would need to use it in my DH's car also as well as her friends). It's about the same size as the Comet (or maybe even slightly shorter) with kids specs of 33-80 lbs and 46-54" tall. The dealership's only advice to me was to peer into other XC90s to see what type of BPBs other people were using.

I tried calling both Graco and Britax this afternoon when I got back to find out how important it was to have the BPB sit flush against the car seat back, but they close early on Fridays. I also tried reaching a CPS Tech at my local AAA office, but she was out sick today. I'm going to try them all again next week, but if they all provide no solutions, I see my only options as using a backless booster (which would be basically the same as using my integrated booster with no sleeping support) or continue using the Comet but as a BPB until she outgrows it (which may not be too long and it runs the risk of slack in the seat belt since it doesn't have open loops).

I apologize for going on about this, but I'm running out of ideas, so if anyone has any, I would be extremely grateful.

01-15-2006, 04:34 AM
My sister's Oldmobile Alero has the same problem. Unfortunately, you will HAVE to use a backless... the headrests that are not adjustable that interfere with proper booster do give you one benefit... tall seatbacks

You might try the Cosco Apex first, though, since it would be better to have her harnessed and it requires a tall headrest... but be sure, when you try it, that you move the headrest to the top position first.

Otherwise, get the backless turbobooster... it comes with the belt guide that the evenflo and cosco ones no longer do.

Another backless booster note... the booster will be outgrown when the top of the ears are level with the top of your vehicle seat... so watch that. My son who is 6 (as of Jan. 11) outgrew being able to use a backless in our Buick LeSabre just a month ago... but he can still use one in my sister's car for some time.


01-15-2006, 09:42 AM
My DH recently bought a new Ford F150 4 door and I had similar problems, the headrests can not be removed. DS is 7 and rides in a Turbo Booster in the truck and dd is 4 and rides in a marathon. The turbo can not be used in the outboard positions because the head rest interferes with the back of the turbo laying flat against the vehicle seat back and according to the user manual this is a definate no no. I moved the booster to the middle and got a perfect fit. DD's Marathon however leaves a 1 inch gap at the back when installed rock solid so I called Britax who said that this is fine as long as I got a tight install.

The parkway manual states "position the booster seat with the back against the vehicle seat. Adjust recline, if necessary, for proper fit." I interpret this to mean that some play is OK, the Graco manual has a huge X across this. My dd will need to be moved to a booster in DH's truck in the next year and I assumed that I would be able to use a parkway outboard. This assumption was made after talking with Britax on the phone but I am calling it an assumption because I had the conversation with them mostly about the Marathon and then about the parkway so I could be a little confused.

To make a long story short, I think that when you speak with Britax on Monday you will find that you can use their booster in your vehicle but please verify this and post to let us know what happened.


01-16-2006, 09:22 AM
I was going to say, "get the volvo booster", but you're way ahead of me! I hope Graco or Britax are able to give you an answer about the gap between the seatbacks..those seats are the only ones (besides recaro) that have decent sleeping headwings (the Compass B500 or Evenflo Big Kid really have fairly poor sleeping-wings, and rather poor SIP, but of course, you are loaded with side curtains to take care of that!).
I don't know if www.dreamwings.com are still available anywhere, but they work fairly well for sleeping, and can be used with a backless booster, maybe even in your integrated booster (which IS very safe, if she sits properly in it and finds it comfortable, I think some kids don't find it very comfortable, it must really depend on the kid).

I'm sorry you're having to go through this...I find it so surprising that Volvo virtually ignores such a large segment of it's customers (4-12 year olds who should be in booster seats!)(you really can't even really put a Marathon in there forward facing, because those headrests push it WAY upright)
Julie CPS Tech and mom to 2 in seats

01-19-2006, 03:53 PM
I had the same problem with my Chevy Tahoe. What I did was folded the seat down, and the headrest folds back behind the seat,and when I raise the seat the headrest stays folded back as long as I don't raise it myself. That way my Graco Turbo Booster sits flat agains the seat and the headrest stays back. I have to do the same thing for the Britax Marathon. This might help for you! Kate

01-22-2006, 02:48 AM
Thank you everyone for all your suggestions and advice!! I truly appreciate it!

Kate - Unfortunately, my headrests only flip forward when folding the seat down, which would only cause more of an interference for a BPB. Nice thought though.

Julie - Thanks for the info on Dreamwings. I will look into that. Will using a U-shaped neck pillow have the same effect? My DD hasn't complained about comfort using the integrated booster over the past two weeks, but she does tend to put her feet up on the seat ledge directly in front of the booster cushion. This causes her knees to be up by her chest, which I don't think is very good in case of an accident. I'm having to remind her often to put her feet down.

I spoke with Britax, Graco and two local CPS Techs this week. The rep at Britax was actually a CPA Tech and stated that the PW needs to sit flush against the seat back since there is nothing securing it to the vehicle seat other than the car seatbelt (unlike the RA or Marathon). Graco said the same thing. (Sorry, Heather!)

A CPS Tech at my local AAA office suggested trying the Britax Bodyguard since she thought that the booster seat back was adjustable independent of the head support which may allow a flush fit. She was unaware that the Bodyguard was discontinued last year along with the Starriser. I confirmed with Britax that the Bodyguard seat back is adjustable, BUT the head support moves along with it just like the PW and therefore, wouldn't work in my car. Her only other suggestion was going with a backless booster. She was really appreciative of the information I provided and thought that I helped her more than she helped me.

A CPS Tech at my local police dept hadn't encountered this problem. She was going to check with a more seasoned CPS Tech in her office that actually teachs the courses and hopes to get back to me next week. If she has any successful solutions, I will post them.

I also contacted Volvo HQ regarding their headrest design and informed of my problem of locating a BPB that would fit my car. They, of course, suggested their own booster, but couldn't tell me if it fit in any non-Volvo cars or if the headsupport has EPS foam in it. The rep only took down my complaint after I requested it. Shhheeesh!

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, I see my only viable option as going backless. I'm thinking of re-purchasing the Graco TB that I returned and using it backless in my car and with the highback in my DH's car and all other cars she may ride in.