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Outgrown

Do you get sad when your child outgrows a carseat?  Maybe they are moving on from rear-facing to forward-facing and you lament about the reduction in safety?  Perhaps the carseat was a sentimental favorite?  Or maybe you’re happy because you’ve always hated the fashion on the carseator were looking for an excuse to buy something new?

My son has been mainly riding in boosters for some time.   He’s over 9 years old and is now over 4 feet, 7 inches tall and nearly 80 pounds.  He’s just about to outgrow the tallest combination seat on the market in 5-point harness mode, the Britax Frontier 90 (or Pinnacle 90).  His days as a CarseatBlog model are numbered.  I am sad, but he sure is happy!

frontier90outgrown

5-point Harness at 9 years old. Britax Frontier 90 (cover lifted at shoulders to show harness straps)

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2014 ABC Update: Graco

gracoIt’s time to hear about Graco, baby, and the changes they’ve made to their lineup for 2015. Let’s start with rear-facing only infant seats and move on up through boosters.

SnugRide Line

Graco has decided to remove the entire Classic Connect line of SnugRides. They’ll be phasing it out by Q1 of 2015, though stock will vary by retailer. This leaves 6 Click Connect SnugRide models: one 22 lbs. model, two 30 lbs. models, two 35 lbs. models, and one 40 lbs. model.

All models of stand-alone Click Connect SnugRides will have an upper weight limit of at least 30 lbs. to accommodate babies to toddlers. Entry-level Click Connect 30 seats will have non-adjustable bases and a rear-adjust harness to keep cost down. Starting price will be $99. The Click Connect 30 LX at $129 will have a removable flip recline adjustment piece: turn the piece over for an increase/decrease in recline of 4°. The LX has the same base otherwise as the entry-level CC 30.

Graco SnugRide 30 entry

Graco Click Connect budget base top Graco Click Connect budget base

Graco Click Connect budget base w-foot flipped Graco Click Connect budget base w-foot

There were no changes to the CC 35 or 35 LX.

The CC 40 will be off BRU exclusivity in Q1 of 2015, so that will open up possibilities for other retailers.

There will be a Click Connect 22 sold exclusively as a travel system at Wal-Mart, so the 22 lbs. rear-facing only seat won’t be going away completely.

Also, Graco has announced that any CC infant seat may use any CC base as long as the lowest weight limit of either is followed. For example, if you use a CC 30 seat on a CC 40 base, you may only use it up to 30 lbs. maximum.

MyRide

The MyRide received an update and a decrease in price. Seriously?

2014 ABC Expo Update: Clek

ClekLogolargeThe big news from clek this year is the introduction of their infant insert for the foonf and fllo. The insert—currently and likely permanently called the “infant thingy,” will allow the seats to be used from 5 lbs.

The insert consists of two pieces: a head pillow and a body pillow. The head pillow has tabs that slip into a set of harness slots to keep it in place. The body insert is separate and helps boost the child up a bit in addition to filling space between the baby and the sides of the seat, offering a more snug fit. The headrest of the insert is less padded than the body portion, allowing baby’s head to rest back naturally instead of being pushed forward. The head pillow can continue to be used once the body insert is no longer needed.

Clek infant insert

clek is also introducing a lower set of harness slots to help accommodate smaller babies. This change will be added to seats going forward, but here’s an important note: If you have an existing seat without the lower set of slots, you can use the infant insert EVEN IF THE LOWEST SLOTS ARE ABOVE THE CHILD’S SHOULDERS. This information will be provided in writing in the instructions that come with the insert. Although a bit unconventional, the seat has been tested and has passed in that configuration.

The insert will be available only in black, and it sounds like they do not plan to add other colors or patterns.

But speaking of colors and patterns, clek has a new denim-ish fabric, and Julius might be coming back!

clek fllo oobr more clek fllo oobr clek foonf fllo clek julius oobr clek leather olli clek tokidoki olli

In other news, clek is coming out with a cleaning kit for car seats. The kit will include a brush and two bottles of cleaning product, one for protein-based messes, and one for dye-based messes. The kit will likely retail for $29.99.

clek stain remover kit

Carseat Check Events – The Pre-Check Meeting for CPS Technicians and Instructors

Carseat Check EventIt’s the day of the big carseat check event. The traffic cones are out, the updated recall lists have been printed and the LATCH Manuals are ready for action. But wait! Before those parents and caregivers begin to arrive – it’s time to gather your technicians for a quick briefing. This may be the most important 10 minutes of the whole event so don’t skip it. The pre-check meeting will outline expectations, procedures and protocols. In short, the pre-check meeting sets the tone for the entire event.

Each event coordinator has different expectations and pre-check meetings can vary widely. However, here is a general list of what I expect of the technicians who work events with me:

  • Always encourage best practice recommendations. If you don’t give the parents or caregivers the information then you’re essentially taking away their ability to make informed choices. However, don’t be judgmental and respect the parent or caregiver’s choices as long as they are legal.
  • Read the CR instruction manuals or look them up (online or DVD from Safety Belt Safe, USA)
  • Ask the parent “tell me what you know about this seat”. It’s a great place to start and they might teach you something you didn’t already know.
  • Look up every vehicle in the current edition of the LATCH Manual. It only takes 30 seconds and you’ll never know what you might find unless you actually look.
  • Teach parents how to secure the carseat with their vehicle seatbelt system even if the carseat is currently being installed with LATCH. It’s probably the only opportunity they’ll ever get to understand how the seatbelts in their vehicle lock for proper installation of a carseat.
  • Higher-weight harness seats – must check LATCH limits and note the info for parents.
  • Inform parents of the most appropriate “next step” for the child.
  • Don’t forget to ask “who else rides in this vehicle?”
  • Have parents do final install (or at least help).
  • Document EVERYTHING! Especially any “tough choices” made by parent/caregiver. Make sure you note in your paperwork that parent did final install, how the CR was secured in the vehicle and that education was provided.
  • No vehicle leaves without a second set of eyes (experienced) checking it over!

REMINDER – if the carseat or infant seat base has a lockoff device, you should use it for installations with seatbelt unless there is some compelling reason not to do so. Generally speaking, if using the lockoff – do NOT switch the retractor to locked (ALR) mode. Check carseat owner’s manual for details. Note: in these cases it is recommended that you show parents how the switchable retractor works anyway – in case their next carseat does not have a lockoff.

REMINDER – all vehicles made after 1996 have seatbelts that pre-crash lock in some way. Most lap/shoulder belts have switchable retractors but if you encounter a lap/shoulder belt in a vehicle made after 1996 that has an ELR retractor only (it doesn’t “switch”) then you probably have a locking latchplate. Locking latchplates aren’t always obvious and there are many different versions. Test the latchplate by buckling yourself in the seatbelt and pulling up on the lap belt portion of the belt. If it’s cinched and doesn’t loosen when you pull up on it – you have a locking latchplate.

Carseat Check Road SignThere are other protocols in place regarding CR replacement, technician to vehicle ratios, verification of installs for tech recertification, etc., but those vary from check to check depending on the circumstances.  Safe Kids coalitions have specific protocols that must be followed at all events but for those CPS programs (like mine), that are not affiliated with Safe Kids - it’s really up to the person in charge to make sure that the necessary resources are available and the CPS Techs staffing the event are all on the same page.