Car seat recommendations?

April 9th, 2013

We’re welcoming any and all recommendations for car seats that will accommodate large and growing children who will continue to need the five-point harness.  When new baby comes, he’ll move into Verity’s seat and Verity will inherit Katie’s, so we’re in the market for car seats for Katie and Tommy that they can use long-term.

We’re looking at the Britax Frontier 85, and would love to hear experienced feedback about that seat or others, especially from parents who have experience with larger children with special needs.

Thank you so much for any input you can offer!

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21 Responses to “Car seat recommendations?”

  1. claire says:

    i would love to help but i have some questions
    what vehicle? budget? stats for the kids? 
    if you want to email me the info i can make much better recs. i would strongly encourage extended rear facinf for tommy, katie, verity and baby since theur bones are fragile. 
    some options are the evenflo sureride, graco myride, graco mysize/ headwise/size for me, diono radian, complete air
     

  2. Susanna says:

    Thank you so much for this quick reply, Claire!

    We move the children’s car seats back and forth between our small sedan and our big 15 passenger van as needed.

    Budget? All issues of quality and necessary features being equal, we’d go for the lowest priced of the options. We are looking for one seat for Katie and one seat for Tommy. Each seat must feature a 5 point harness that can be used on a bigger child. The Britax seat I linked to features that option up to 85 pounds.

    Katie is 37 pounds and 37 inches tall. Tommy is 28 pounds and just under 42 inches long.

    (Katie and Verity are both rear-facing, btw.)

    Thank you again, Claire! Feel free to email me at susanna@theblessingofverity.com.

  3. Ashley says:

    Hello!  I’ve never commented before but I thought I’d pass along the blog of a mom that I’ve been reading for years now.  Her daughter Charlie has very significant CP and other issues and Shauna seems VERY knowledgeable about carseats (I believe she is a certified carseat safety expert) and posts regularly about finding good fits for her growing girl (and her older son, as well!).  
    http://mylittlefighter.blogspot.com
    Might I suggest, that if you are still needing someone to bounce ideas off of that you pick Shauna’s brain!  
    Hope this helps, 
    ~Ashley

  4. Susanna says:

    Thank you so much, Ashley, this is a help! We will definitely check out her blog!

  5. bethany says:

    I don’t think the britax frontier allows rearfacing. which based on the size of Katie, and Tommy, they still should be. Diono Radian is an awesome seat at a simlar price as the britax. It’s also narrow, which allows 3 in a row (if you need to)

  6. Katherine says:

    Susanna you might post on http://www.car-seat.org.  I know there are several special needs technicians that might have good suggestions.  Shauna, from Ashley’s recommendation, is active on the forum.  There is even a special needs section, http://www.car-seat.org/forumdisplay.php?f=76

  7. Lynn says:

    We have the Sunshine/Diono Radian and I love it for it’s narrow profile and portability.  (No special needs kids, just very cautious parents!)  It rear-faces to 45 bs and then fwd-faces to 80 lbs and 53″.  I just looked at the Britax and while it doesn’t look like it rear-faces, it does do an extra 5 lbs and 4″ of height in the 5-point harness.  So the Sunshine/Diono is safer now with the rear-facing, but your kids might get an extra year or more of 5-pt use out of the Britax. 

  8. Lynn says:

    I was looking at an older model, the new Diono Radian Rxt goes to 57″ and 80 lbs, and boosters until 120.  IMO it’s better than the Britax then.

  9. Salem says:

    We have our two special needs kids in Radians.  Both will need to be in five point carseats long term and this was the best option we could find that will fit them for many more years.  They are both 3 now – one 22lbs and one 42lbs. 

  10. Nakia says:

    If you are already looking at the Frontier 85, and can wait just a couple months for new seats, I’d *highly* recommend waiting until the Frontier 90 comes out, especially for a seat that is frequently moved.  Awesome new installation feature, just open the front, buckle the seatbelt through, and push the front of the seat back down. It locks the seatbelt and installs the carseat in that one step.  Video here: http://carseatblog.com/21121/first-peek-review-britax-pinnacle-90-frontier-90-combination-harness-2-booster-carseat/  (Also a 5 lb higher weight limit and .5″ taller top harness slot so it lasts just a little bit longer).  At Tommy’s size, he should fit into almost any combination seat so you could get a cheaper one in the interim, ie- Maestro for around $80 or $90, and then have that as a back-up seat later on, if he needs one immediately.
    Our 7 yr old (adopted from U) w/ DS rides in either a Graco Nautilus or Frontier85, he’s ~44″ and 44 lbs now, and fits well and comfortable in either.  A bit easier to get into the Frontier, the high arms of the Nautilus make it a bit harder to get into for him.  Those might be a pain for Tommy (or even Katie) if you have to lift him / them into the seat.  
     
    At the same time, if Tommy’s bone density is very low like Katie’s was when she came home, you’ll really want to try to rear-face him…at 42″ though it’d depend on his torso height if he’d fit, that’s about the size my (bio) son outgrew his Radian’s rear-facing even though under the weight limit.  The Foonf out now is taller I believe but also crazy expensive.  Also … depends on how much flexibility he has in his legs too.  You also might consider the Kiddy World Plus for him until he reaches 40 lbs, if he can sit w/ his legs flat enough for the shield to fit properly over.  http://carseatblog.com/9689/the-kiddy-world-plus-kiddy-cruiser-fix-booster-preview-let-the-drooling-commence/

  11. Gretchen says:

    We bought the Diono R100 seats this year and have been very impressed.  They last for ten years because they’re made of steel and they have the highest weight allowance for children who are rear facing.  They are super heavy and not easy to install but if you can just lock them in and leave them they’re wonderful.  Even still I’d buy them again and highly recommend them. 

  12. cecilia says:

    We have the Boulevard 70 cs (http://www.britaxusa.com/car-seats/boulevard-70-cs) and love it.

  13. Miranda says:

    I’d like to recommend the Diono seat as well. I don’t have any personal experience using it with special needs children, but the R100 has a high weight and height limit and a metal construction, which gives it a later expiration date (10 years from date of manufacture for this model). 
    We have been using Radian 65’s from the same company (no long made), and they are easy to install both forward and rear facing. The base is also very slim, which was a huge plus for us when trying to fit 3 seats across. 
    Regarding the size limits – my 8 year old just moved into a booster, but at 49 inches and 50 lbs, she still fit very comfortably. 
    Best wishes!

  14. Katie says:

    Susanna, I am a car seat tech and I know of some non traditional options that may help you.  In at work but I will write you when I get home!  I’m confident we can get something worked out

  15. Katie says:

    I may even be able to find you a deal/assistance costwise if I email a couple contacts… I will email you tonight.

  16. Jessica says:

    The Graco MyRide is great, but very wide. This one would work well for having 3 car seats side-by-side. http://dionocarseats.com/p-145769-diono-radian-r120-convertible-car-seat.aspx#!vID168183 although you may want to add a pad that goes between the legs to help keep the child from sliding down. I have used these, but can not remember what they are called.

  17. Robin says:

    We have had three of the Frontier 85’s for the last 3 years and love them! We do not have special needs children in them though, so I don’t know how that might be different. The latches are easy and secure, easy to adjust, and, if the head rest went up another inch or two, I could fit in them!

  18. Amy says:

    I have the Frontier. I bought it because my son is BIG and was 40lbs before he was 3 and I wanted a carseat that would allow him to stay in the 5 point harness longer. I LOVE how easy it is to adjust the seat for height. My son is now in a booster seat (ready to be out of it even though he is only 5.5, height and weight wise). I use the Frontier for foster kids and kids I am babysitting and I LOVE how easy it is to adjust from kid to kid.
    It is a HEAVY carseat. So moving it from vehicle to vehicle is a little more muscle work.

  19. Nakia says:

    Also, you can find a tech near you that has special needs training by going here: https://ssl13.cyzap.net/dzapps/dbzap.bin/apps/assess/webmembers/tool?pToolCode=TAB9&pCategory1=TAB9_CERTSEARCH&Webid=safekidscertSQL
    Just enter your location info (state is probably enough) and make sure to click the box in the bottom left, under “extra training” that says ‘Special Needs’

  20. Susanna says:

    Thank you SO much, everyone, for all this wonderful info! What a help! We’ll look carefully through it all tonight during Date Night. :) Thank you, thank you!

  21. Angie says:

    My daughter used the Frontier until just a few months ago, at 9.5.  Her disability was not a factor, just a mama who is a  safety freak.  I LOVED the fact that she could be in a 5 point harness for so long.  She cooperated very well, even though none of her friends used boosters for years.  At 9.5 she respectfully asked to stop using it, and I agreed.  She found it to be very comfortable.  Our first Britax was given to us by a family who had purchased it for their child with CP, but the child couldn’t get comfortable.  The Frontier was a replacement purchased by the insurance company after a car accident.
    Bottom line, we loved the Frontier (given away already, or we’d send it to you) but Katie & Tommy may have different fitting needs than my daughter.  It was also a big pain to install.  The mention in another comment about a new version is very intriguing!

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