1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.
Heather Corley

Car Seats for Larger Babies

By April 3, 2006

Follow me on:

Photo courtesy of Pricegrabber.com.

New research indicates that more than a quarter of a million children ages one to six are heavier than the maximum weights for standard car seats. The study links these larger-than-average children with the U.S. obesity epidemic, and indicates that many babies and children may be under-protected in a crash because they are too heavy for their car seat or are in a booster seat that is not appropriate for their age and height.

Regardless of whether your baby or young child is legitimately overweight, or just grows faster than average, there are car seats available that allow heavier babies to remain in a harness beyond 40 pounds, which is the limit of some standard convertible car seats. Children should remain in a harnessed car seat until they are at least age 4, and until they are able stay properly seated in a belt-positioning booster. Rather than moving a heavier two- or three-year-old to a belt positioning booster, try one of these five-point harness car seats that can be harnessed up to 65 pounds. Some of the following seats also can be used as a belt-positioning booster seat after 65 pounds. If your child is extra tall as well as heavy, be sure to check the car seat's height limits, too.

Update: Since this post was initially written, a number of fantastic higher-weight-limit car seats have become available. Almost any of the car seats with a 65 lb or greater harness weight limit will be appropriate for this situation. I do not recommend the all-in-one car seat and booster combination car seats for larger children, because these car seat usually only have a 40 lb harness, which would require you to graduate your toddler to a booster far too soon. Many of these car seats also could allow you to keep your baby rear-facing beyond one year, which has significant safety advantages.

April 14, 2006 at 5:52 am
(1) Denise says:

Interesting. I find it harder to sit my 3, almost 4yo, in her seat and she’s small for her age. The coat is the problem, but you would think that companies realize this :(

May 11, 2006 at 3:37 am
(2) diana says:


I am a student from Cal State University of Northridge in Los Angeles California. I am doing a research project for school and I was wondering if you can help me with something. I have a few questions regarding the article about the “CAR SEATS FOR LARGER OR OVERWEIGHT BABIES”.

1. What progresses has there been since the article has been published?

2. What ethnic background children dominated the numbers in the research?

3. What are health officials doing about lowering the numbers?

4. Do you think car seat manufacturers should increase their size to accommodate overweight children?

5. What should parents do if they are in that situation?

6. What do you predict for the future? Would children keep getting fatter or be at a normal weight?

I would really appreciate some answers to these questions in order for me to complete my research.

Thank you very much

January 8, 2007 at 3:06 pm
(3) stephanie f says:

I know there are (expensive) options for bigger than average 3-4 year year olds, but what about my 6 year old? She is almost 4&1/2 feet and 90lbs. She squeezes into the widest backless booster we could find, but not for much longer! The seatbelt still hits her right across the neck. Should I just let her sit on a pillow, or what?!

January 20, 2009 at 2:18 am
(4) Lisa Bennett says:

Can anyone tell me where I can find diapers for my overweight two yr old? Even the largest Pull Ups are too small and she is not quite ready for potty training yet. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank You

February 10, 2009 at 9:46 am
(5) rene says:

goodnites are good my son went in to pullups when he was 9 months old and his legs were too big for em at 15 months i buy goodnites theyare a bit pricey but the dollar store has them as well they just arent as durable

January 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm
(6) Sarah says:

Well, thank you for pointing out that there are many overweight babies out there. But the sad fact is, that my child is NOT overweight. He is in the 105th % for his weight and 110th% for his height. My son was 10 + lbs when he was born. His height and weight are completely proportioned. I have no idea how to find a car seat that fits him appropriately when he is 38lbs at 21 months.

February 10, 2010 at 8:28 am
(7) amanda says:

I agree Sarah. My Son was born over 10 lbs. He is currently 9months old and bigger than some 2yr olds. He has always been in the 90th or above. I dont know where to look for a safe car seat that will last him.

February 18, 2010 at 9:25 am
(8) Bonnie says:

Amanda and Sarah, I hear you both. My son was 9 1/2 at birth and he’s 32 pounds at 16 months now. He’s not overweight for his height, either but I worry about putting him in a car seat appropriate for his size. They are not appropriate for his age and development.

October 25, 2010 at 2:09 am
(9) Raven says:

Ladies the best way to find a car seat that fits your child no matter there size is to take them to the store and put them in the seat.
1 Look to see if they have room to grow.
2 Insure the harness is not too snug for your child.
3 Make sure the car seat fits properly in your car or truck.
4 And most improtant of all travel safely!

My son is on the small side but but is tall for his age. I have friends that have larger babies and I take them to the store to help find the right car seat for their chidren using the rules above.

July 26, 2011 at 3:22 am
(10) Amy says:

Useful and interesting! I have obtained a lot of car seat information here, and most importantly they are useful!

September 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm
(11) Rina says:

My daughter was 11 lbs 10 oz and 23inch at birth!!! She is now 7 months and is 24lbs 26inch!

October 25, 2012 at 4:45 am
(12) Sharlotte says:

I am a mom of 2 adorable but rather large lil men. My oldest is 2 years old he is 38inches tall n weighs 42 pounds.. He is a BIG boy. I had a heck of time finding a carseat that allowed him room to grow. He was out of his infant seat almost immediately.. i searched & searched for a safe comfortable seat that would fit my compact car as well & went with a Britax convertible. Although pricey he has been in it for 20 months & still has room to grow. Now i have a 4 month old, again he is like his big brother, big lil guy. I now have the experience and purchased a larger infant seat a Graco that he still hasn’t outgrown, although the seat is large & a tight fit in my compact car it allows my 4 month old to stay safe by riding rear facing & when he is ready i will purchase another Britax or Recaro both with max harness weight of 85 pounds.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.