I’ve decided to document how various combination (harness/booster) seats fit my 4-year-old, 41 lb, 43″ tall son in booster mode.  He’s at the size where most parents would be switching from the 5-pt harness to the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt in booster mode if they had a combination seat with a 40 lb limit on the harness.  In each case I’ll use the same seating position in my van – driver’s side captain’s chair in a 2005 Ford Freestar.     

The IIHS booster study compared the fit of various boosters using the 6-year-old Hybrid lll dummy who weighs 51.6 lbs (23.41 kg) and has a standing height of almost 45″.  I thought it would be even better to show belt fit on a child who was just over the 40 lb weight limit for the 5-pt harness.  I’ve decided to focus exclusively on combination seats because of their popularity.         

In previous blog entries we looked at a few combination seats made by Evenflo, Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) and Graco.  This week we’ll be looking at the Recaro Young Sport.   

This was actually a seat I purchased about 18 months ago and it was used in DH’s car until a few months ago when DS hit 40 lbs.  I just wasn’t ready to put my 4-year-old in a booster yet so the RYS went to live with a good friend (and fellow CPS Technician).  She was kind enough to let me borrow the seat back for a little photo session.  

The Good:  The fit of the lap belt and the shoulder belt are both excellent.  The lap belt is low – sitting on his lap – touching the top of his thighs.   It is no where near his soft abdomen.  The shoulder belt is snug across his chest and crossing the collar bone in a good spot.     

The Bad:  There is no way a younger child could buckle himself without help from an adult.  This is no big deal to me because I don’t think younger kids should be solely responsible for buckling themselves anyway.  But if you have one of those kids who insists on doing everything themselves without any assistance from anyone else - then consider yourself warned.  Honestly, that’s the only negative I can come up with.    

Bottom Line:   The Recaro Young Sport is the only 40 lb harness combination seat that I’ve tried so far that is actually a great forward-facing harnessed seat AND a great booster for a child who is just over the weight limit for the harness.  It also adjusts much taller than anything else I’ve tried so far.  In the photos he was using the top harness position.  I can’t remember which position that is.  3 maybe?  Anyhow, you’re allowed to use that position in booster mode but there are also several taller positions that are clearly marked “Booster Only”.  I snapped a picture of him inside, sitting on the seat in its tallest position.  As you can clearly see – he’d have years worth of growing room.  I also snapped a picture of him in the harness to show that he would still technically fit height-wise if he was under the 40 lb weight limit.  The seat lists a 40″ height limit for the harness but most kids will fit height-wise beyond that.   My son is at least 43″ in these photos (he wears a size 5 in shirts and pants) and he still has at least 1″ of torso growth before his shoulders are even with the top harness slots.  It is also worth noting that this seat has Side-Impact Protection that is far superior to any other combo seat that  I’ve reviewed so far in this blog series.  At this point – the Recaro Young Sport is in a league of its own.