How I parent my firstborn doesn't get any more stereotypical. I've celebrated each birthday and milestone by pushing her right to that next stage, whether it's sleep training, potty training or child-safety seats. Around her fourth birthday, when her long legs started kicking the back of my seat, I realized she was technically old enough to ditch the convertible child-safety seat and move up to a booster. Visions of effortlessly tossing Grandma the booster — instead of breaking a sweat while I uninstalled and reinstalled her convertible every time — filled my mind, and we went out and bought one. Like, that day.
However, life with a booster wasn't as effortless as I hoped. Not only was my sweet 4-year-old not coordinated enough to buckle up independently, but she couldn't reach the buckle because the booster's wide base covered it. It took some major teamwork to scoot her booster over so I could then buckle her up.
Even more frustrating was that about five minutes into every ride, she'd wiggle out from underneath the seat belt's shoulder strap. While she was technically the right age and weight to move to a booster, she didn't have the needed maturity.
After researching car-seat safety and having all three of my installed car seats checked by a certified child-safety-seat technician, I came to an unpopular — at least to my 4-year-old — conclusion: We needed to go back to a five-point-harness car seat for her.
I found the right solution for us in a car seat that's designed with older children in mind, the Britax Frontier 85. This is a combination car seat that can convert to a booster when my daughter is really ready. With its higher height and weight limits, it could easily carry her into junior high, and I could rest a little bit easier. My daughter can use the five-point harness by herself, and I no longer worry about her wiggling out from the straps while I'm driving.
Moving her back into a combination car seat with a five-point harness from a booster seat didn't make me too popular in the family. However, with two more daughters following right behind her, I'm sure I have a lifetime of unpopular decision-making ahead of me. I might as well get used to it now.