Author Archive

Our entire Mythbusting Series – now in one convenient place!

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Here are CarseatBlog – we like setting the record straight. There are so many persistent myths and general areas of confusion in the field of child passenger safety. Some that have persisted despite two decades of attempts to educate parents and caregivers (hello infant carseats on top of shopping carts!). The internet and social media have both helped and hurt the cause. Not all the information we see shared online is accurate, even if the source is well-intentioned.

However, you can trust that we’ve done our homework, looked at published, peer-reviewed studies, talked to car seat engineers and other experts in our field, and drawn on our own years of experience in the field and with our own kids (several of whom are driving themselves by now). We’re “seasoned” experts in the CPS field (that’s code for old, Lol) but we also understand the limits of our expertise and we look to our resources that have more specific areas of expertise whenever necessary.

With all that said, we wanted to make sure our entire Mythbuster Series was easy to find so when something relevant comes up, you know where to find the mythbuster article that you’re looking to share.

Carseatblog - most popular page - mythbust

Mother’s Day Flash Giveaway: Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Carseat + Harvey’s Seatbelt Bag!

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Mothers Day Giveaway graphic - 4ever and HarveysHere at CarseatBlog we know our demographic and they’re mostly moms, moms-to-be, grandmothers, child care providers and the occasional Mr. Mom. We’re cool with that because we’re Moms (and Mr. Moms) too! We know where you’ve been and where you’re going. We also know that almost everyone can use a Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Carseat for your precious cargo and an awesome new seatbelt purse from Harveys for mom!

Therefore, in celebration of Mother’s Day, we’ve partnered with our generous sponsor, Graco Children’s Products and our friends at HARVEYS to give away a Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Carseat in choice of fashion (subject to availability) PLUS a Harveys medium tote seatbelt bag to one very lucky winner! One lucky random winner will be selected on Mother’s Day!

This promotion is closed. Thank you for participating ~ winners will be announced soon!

Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Specs:

  • Rear-facing 4-40 lbs.
  • Forward facing 22-65 lbs. with harness; 27″-52″ tall
  • Highback booster 30-100 lbs; 38″-52″ tall
  • Backless booster 40-120 lbs; 40″-57″ tall
  • 10 year lifespan before expiration!
  • Colors: Subject to fashions in stock at Graco at time of delivery
  • $299.99 MSRP value

Graco 4ever - all modes stock

Harveys Seatbelt Bag – Medium Tote

  • Hand woven and accented in seatbelt. Fully lined with extra slip pockets for storage. Features top carry handles and zip top.
  • 9.5″ (L) X 7.5″ (H) X 4″ (W) with 11″ handle drop
  • Colors: red, black, pebble, indigo, treetop (color choice subject to availability)
  • $104 retail value

Harvey's medium tote - red Harvey's medium tote - black Harvey's medium tote - pebble Harvey's medium tote - indigo Harvey's medium tote - treecycle

It’s a 3-DAY FLASH GIVEAWAY that ends at 10 pm Eastern time on Mother’s Day so don’t delay! Enter now by following these two simple steps:

How to Enter:

Leave us a comment below and say something nice about yourself! Then click on Rafflecopter to qualify yourself. Yup, that’s it. Your comment doesn’t have to be mom-related (although it can be if you want it to). Just say something nice about yourself. Hopefully that won’t be too hard or require too much thought. Lol!

Now for the fine print –  winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prizes. Only one prize (carseat and purse) will be awarded to the same winner. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 10 PM Eastern time and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. It will not be lost; it may just take a few hours for it to be approved. Thank you for your understanding and patience as this is the only way we have to reduce comment spam.

Happy Mother’s Day & Good Luck!

Harmony Big Boost Deluxe Booster with LATCH Review – the best big kid booster ever?

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Harmony Big Boost - stockWhen it comes to backless boosters – there really isn’t much to rave about. Usually. A backless booster is simply a positioning device meant to boost older kids so that the adult seatbelt fits them properly. A backless booster is usually the last product that older kids will use before they can pass the 5-Step Test and transition to using just the adult seatbelt. Generally speaking, this doesn’t happen until about 10-12 years for most kids although there are always exceptions. The problem with a lot of backless boosters on the market right now is that they don’t actually fit many of the older, heavier kids who still need to use them. Many products claim weight limits of 100 lbs. or more but when you try to stick a kid who weighs 90+ lbs. in the seat, you quickly realize that those numbers don’t translate in the real world. Luckily, bigger kids are not a problem for the Harmony Big Boost Deluxe. It seems to be the ideal booster for kids who may have trouble fitting comfortably in other backless boosters but really still need some help to fit properly in the adult seatbelt. On the downside, it doesn’t seem to fit smaller kids as well and that’s a concern since the minimum weight limit for this product is 30 lbs.

Big Boost Deluxe Specs & Features:

  • Harmony Big Boost DeluxeWeight range: 30 – 110 lbs.
  • Height range: 34 – 57″
  • Age requirements: None (manual indicates that you should consult your state laws for guidance; we suggest this product for kids between 6-12 years old)
  • Child’s ears must be below top of vehicle seat headrest
  • Flexible hook-style lower LATCH attachments with center front adjust strap
  • Well-padded and comfortable
  • Smooth bottom won’t scratch or dent vehicle upholstery
  • Cup holder can be attached to either side
  • Cover is machine washable
  • Shoulder belt positioning strap (if needed) is attached at the bottom

Measurements:

  • Product weight: Less than 4 lbs. (according to my digital bathroom scale)
  • Inside width at hip area: 13″
  • Overall width at widest point: 17.5″
  • Seat depth: 13″ approximately (it’s difficult to measure on this seat)

Belt Fit:

The Big Boost did an excellent job positioning the seatbelt properly on my 11-year-old who is 105 lbs. and 55″ tall.  He raves about how comfortable this seat is and claims it’s the best booster he has ever used! In case you’re wondering why my 6th grader still uses a booster – it’s because the seatbelts in most of our vehicles don’t fit him right yet. He still needs a little boost to be comfortable (and safe!) in the adult seat belt. When he grows a few inches taller (which I’m sure will happen soon), he will pass the 5-Step Test in my van and hubby’s truck. But for now he actually prefers to use a booster. The problem we’ve had is that he doesn’t fit in most boosters on the market today – even the ones that are supposedly rated to 110 lbs. or more. However, as you can see, he fits in this seat and is very happy with it. I specifically asked if he’s bothered by the seat depth because it doesn’t extend all the way down this thighs but he says it’s not an issue. He’s been using this seat for the last 2 months, even on long road trips, and he’s totally comfortable

Harmony Big Boost Harmony Big Boost Harmony Big Boost

On the opposite end of the weight range, here is what belt fit looks like in the same vehicle with a 5-year-old who weighs 37 lbs. and is 43″ tall. The belt fit isn’t terrible but the lap belt placement is a little too low in my opinion (across the femur instead of making contact with the pelvic bones) and when she scooted all the way to one side, she had about 4″ of room between her body and the other side of the booster. My honest opinion is that this product would be best suited for kids who weigh at least 50 lbs.

Harmony Big Booster - smaller child Harmony Big Boost - swimming in this seat Harmony Big Boost - belt fit on smaller child

Traveling:

Traveling with Harmony Big BoostWhile no booster seat, including this one, can be used on an airplane because airplane seats only have lap belts (and you need a lap/shoulder seatbelt to use any booster), this product does make a great travel seat for older kids. We recently flew with the Harmony Big Boost Deluxe and it fit easily in the overhead bin. It also stored nicely under the seat on the flight home when the overhead bins were full. It’s super lightweight and the front adjuster strap that connects to the lower LATCH connectors made a handy loop for attaching the seat to our wheeled carry-on bag.  If traveling with a backless booster, we always recommend taking it with you as carry-on even though your child can’t sit in it during the flight. A backless booster is small enough to be a carry-on item and if you bring it with you on the plane, it’s nearly impossible for it to be lost or damaged in transit.

Bottom Line:

The Harmony Big Boost Deluxe in a welcome new product for bigger, older kids. It’s super comfortable and it does a great job positioning the seatbelt properly on bigger, older kids. While it isn’t the cheapest backless on the market (MSRP $24.99), it’s a great value for what you get – especially since it’s LATCHable. The only potential downsides are that it’s wide, may not be a great fit on smaller, lighter kids and currently it’s only available at Walmart.

If you’re searching for a comfortable, LATCHable, backless booster and your kid is on the heavier side of the weight range –  the Harmony Big Boost Deluxe definitely deserves your consideration. If you ask my kid, he’ll tell you to go for it because he claims it’s the most comfortable booster he has ever used. That’s an impressive endorsement coming from a kid who has used many different boosters in his short lifetime!

Carseat Recalls – the good, the bad and the ridiculous

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Recall-stampYour carseat is recalled. Those words strike fear into the hearts and minds of safety-conscious parents everywhere. After all, no one wants to hear that there is a potential problem with their carseat – a product that they’ve entrusted to protect their child’s life under the worst possible circumstances. For child restraint manufacturers, recalls are more than just fixing compliance or safety issues – they tend to be costly and chock full of bad publicity. In short, recalls are bad for business. However, voluntary recalls are also a part of the business and almost every manufacturer has to face a recall issue sooner or later. It’s important to understand that not all recalls are for serious safety-related problems although some clearly are.

A carseat could be recalled for having a small hole in the shell (for attaching the cup holder) if enough kids get a finger stuck in that hole. A seat could also be recalled for having an incorrect phone number for NHTSA listed on the label. Or for having a mix-up with the English/Spanish sticker labels. Labeling errors are actually pretty common but rarely are they a safety concern.

Most consumers have no idea how many nit-picky little criteria are in FMVSS 213 that must be complied with. One perfect example, if the carseat is one that is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft then the label is required to state that. But it’s also required to state that in red lettering. If someone, somewhere, screws up and that wording winds up printed on the label in black or gray, or any color other than red, then… you guessed it – the seat will be recalled for failing to comply with federal standards.

Britax Frontier 80 FAA Certification Label

Meanwhile, every store around the country that carried that particular carseat will probably have that “WANTED – DEAD OR ALIVE” recall notice poster with a picture of the culprit hanging in the aisle or posted on a bulletin board – alerting consumers to the failure of that product to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. I bet the money spent on that recall campaign could buy a whole lot of red ink. And probably a few years worth of gas and groceries too.

It’s ridiculous that all recalls get lumped together and there is no differentiating between a misdemeanor and a felony. How many parents get totally freaked out because of some minor issue that has nothing to do with the safety of their child restraint? On the flip side, there are plenty of legitimately scary recalls that can affect the product’s ability to protect children in crashes. Almost every manufacturer has to deal with something that falls into this category sooner or later. No product or production process, no matter how good, is guaranteed to be flawless 100% of the time.

What REALLY matters in these situations is how the manufacturer responds once it becomes apparent that there is a problem (or at least the potential for a problem). Do they quickly identify a solution and issue a voluntary recall right away – before any children are seriously injured? Or do they drag their feet, arguing back and forth with NHTSA for years until they are forced to issue a recall?

I have to say that there have been a lot of properly handled recalls recently that reaffirm my faith in some carseat manufacturers. Timely and appropriate responses combined with good customer service really go a long way to calm fears. Obviously, the more severe the problem or defect, the more it will take to regain the trust of consumers but good customer service is always the best place to start whenever there’s a problem. Well, that and an acceptable solution to whatever the problem is. I’ve seen some really lame “solutions” to recall issues over the years but that’s a topic for a whole different blog.

So, what can consumers do to protect their children from faulty products? Spending a lot of money on a CR doesn’t make it less likely to be recalled. Really, your best protection is to be an educated consumer. Whenever possible, buy products from manufacturers who have a good reputation for recalling seats quickly when problems arise and for handling problems with excellent customer service. It is also critical that you register your child restraint with the manufacturer so that you will be notified in the case of a recall.  If you move – don’t forget to call them and update your contact info!

If you’d like to check your carseat or booster for recalls – there are several resources available. Keep in mind that recalls may occur years after the product has been purchased. Here are links to the 2 most popular recall lists:

NHTSA Recall List:  http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm

University of North Carolina HSRC Recall List: http://www.buckleupnc.org/car-seat-recall-list/

You can also sign up for email alerts whenever a new recall is announced:  http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/subscriptions/index.cfm