Booster Seats for Lap Belt

Archived Q&A and Reviews

April 2004

I need to find a booster seat that will go over 40 lbs/43 inches (the measurements I've been seeing on most boosters to use the internal harness) and attach using only a lap belt. Our babysitter's car has only lap belts in the back, and I don't like the option of putting my daughter in the front seat. She's rapidly outgrowing the toddler seat the babysitter has - not so much in weight as in height, but the weight will come eventually too. The archive lists this question, but no good answers. Does anyone know of a booster that can go beyond 40 lbs and use only a lap belt? Thanks, Nancy

There is no such thing as a lap-belt booster. The shoulder belt is essential to the child's safety. You can buy a 5-pt harness booster seat that goes up to 80 lbs--- the last recommendation letter posted several options including the Britax Husky. But you can't buy a lap belt only booster. In a crash the top of the child's body is thrown forward , but the bottom is held in place which can lead to the spinal cord being severed at the waist and paralysis of the legs.

You would seem to have 3 options: get shoulder belts installed, have your child ride in the front seat (as long as there is no airbag or it is turned off) or buy a Britax Husky or similar seat. All the best, susan

This may not be an exact answer but from what I have learned you Height restrictions on a carseat are not an excact measurement. What matters is where there head and shoulders are. They have outgrown a seat heightmwise when the tips of their ears reach mthe tip of the hard plastic shell of the seat. Also the shoulder straps need to be at or above their shoulders. ( sometimes the cover falls down so you need to make sure it is the holes in the actual seat and not just the cover.) so if she is all legs then she will be able to stay in a seat longer than someone who is really long torsoed. but the weight is definatly 40 pounds.

All that said when it comes time to switch her out of the seat you have a few choices non of them very cheap. You could get the britax husky it is 5 point harness to 80 pounds ( great seat that is what we have although it is really big) Second there is the britax marathon 5 point harness to 65 pounds and the airway which is 5 point to I think 50 pounds then it changes to a belt positioner that needs a shoulder strap. Lastly you can try to get a britax laptop used maybe on e-bay.because they no longer make it because of the latch compatable law.

Anyway good luck Melinda

A booster seat (by definition) cannot be used with a lap belt only. You need a seat with a 5-point harness, which means the Britax Marathon (up to 65 lbs) or Britax Husky (80 lbs) - see the recent question about a harnessed seat for a larger child!

If for whatever reason you cannot buy a Marathon or Husky and your child has outgrown her toddler seat, she'll have to use a belt-positioning booster seat and is probably better off in the front seat (pushed as far back as possible) of the babysitter's car. I assume that if the car does not have shoulder belts in the rear, it probably also does not have airbags in the front. Given that, I'd think having the shoulder belt would offest the increased risk from being in the front seat.

Alternatively, get the babysitter's car's seatbelts retrofitted to add shoulder belts. This is possible in many older cars. Consult a dealer. anon


Does anyone have any information about carseats/booster seats for older children where there are no shoulder belts in the back? When I did research awhile ago, I couldn't find any booster seat that was designed for lap belt only. They all said to use the shoulder belt once kids got over a certain weight. The front has a shoulder belt and no airbags, but I still didn't feel comfortable having her in the front consistently. I still have the car and was wondering if anyone had any ideas. I'm also wondering how this new legislation will apply to these older cars. meghan

Re: lap belts on carseat: I have the Britax Roundabout and love the car seat. We have rented many car seats, while on various vacations, and my son has never been very comfortable in any of the other brands. His comfort has been attributed to the padding and design of the harness. I also have a Volvo and have not used the tether and really have not felt the need to. I just use two of the regular seat belts and the seat is very secure. T
I bought my daughter a booster seat from The Right Start catalog, it is foam and has velcro guides for the car's seat belt positioning the seat belt in the right place for a child. She loves it and often wants to move to another car if we are not driving in my car. If I remember correctly it cost about $80 and is really great. We have been using it for more than 2 years and it still looks new. I just checked their website with no sign of the booster seat, but they might know where to find it, Good luck Alice
For the person in want of a snug fit for a child seat in a volvo Are angled backseats the problem? If so, you can level out the seat using fun noodles cut to size. You can get fun noodles at Toys R us for about $2 each. This was suggested to me by an officer at the CHP on Telegraph Ave when I complained of the poor fit between my Britex Roundabout and the sharply angled backseats of my Acura Legend. (Officer Gomez actually helped me instal the Roundabout--tethers, too-- and cut the fun noodles to size). Xanthippe
I've attached an website link that I saved after watching a 20/20 episode on the subject. The story is there, as well as related stories, 15 related web links, and a proper child safety seat use chart. I think you may find the legislation info. you are seeking from the web links. Good luck.

Kids Ages 4 to 8 May Be at Risk in Your Car Angela