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Carseat Inflicted Injuries

first aidWe all know that car seats help prevent injuries in kids. Anyone who has installed a few also knows they tend to cause injuries in the adults who are installing them. Broken nails, scraped knuckles, smashed toes, bruised shins: I’ve had them all, and then some. Today was a first, though.

I was carrying a boxed car seat through the house and needed to hoist it up to clear a kitchen chair and a serving cart. Somehow I lost my grip and the box slipped out of my hands. Luckily it only fell an inch or two onto the chair and cart I was trying to avoid, but when my hands slipped off, they also flew up…into my face. One of my finger nails jabbed my nose, leaving an unsightly and rather painful gouge.

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So, tell us: What unusual carseat-related injuries have you endured?

CPS Tech Talk: An in-depth look at new LATCH Limits

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For a few months now, the parenting world has been abuzz with confusion over these new LATCH limits. We at CarseatBlog have been trying to explain things in clear language so people don’t have to read through volumes of government documents to understand it all. Our recent post, New Federal Regulations Regarding LATCH Weight Limits – What Parents Need to Know gives a general summary of what most people need to know.

But what about those of you who want to know more? The nitty-gritty behind the why’s of the whole thing, and the small changes that have occurred since the time the new amendment was first proposed? That’s where this post comes in.

Changes to Labeling

First, let’s talk about a couple small changes.

Initially the new rule stated that after February 27, 2014, car seats would have to come with a label stating, “Do not use the lower anchors of the child restraint anchorage system (LATCH system) to attach this child restraint when restraining a child weighing more than “*.”  The asterisk would be a child weight that, when combined with the weight of the car seat, would not be greater than 65 lbs. For example, if a seat weighs 20 lbs, the label would say, “Do not use the lower anchors of the child restraint anchorage system (LATCH system) to attach this child restraint when restraining a child weighing more than 45 lbs.”

But some people raised concerns that the wording was unclear and might cause people to think they had to discontinue harness use at that weight, rather than simply switch to a seatbelt installation.

NHTSA listened to those concerns and has created a new solution that will be required starting February 27, 2015, or can be implemented sooner for manufacturers who want to. That solution is a diagram that is supposed to eliminate confusion.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 10.19.54 AM

The idea is that the drawing shows lower anchors, and therefore makes it clear that it’s the lower anchors that are supposed to be discontinued at a certain weight (implying that it’s fine to keep using the seatbelt).

I applaud their effort, but I’m not sure the diagram will eliminate confusion, and I suspect it might even increase it. Yes, it says “lower anchors,” but a lot of parents don’t really understand what that means (as opposed to a top tether, or as opposed to a seatbelt which does, after all, anchor in the child seat). I think it’s very likely that people will look at the diagram, see webbing (of some sort) and assume that it’s no longer safe to install with LATCH or the seatbelt or top tethers. A better illustration might have been a drawing of a LATCH connector itself, but it’s probably too late now. Hopefully the new labeling won’t cause too much confusion.

Rounding the Weight

The second change in the final ruling about LATCH limit labeling is that manufacturers will have the option of rounding the maximum forward-facing child weight up to the next 5 lbs. The idea behind this was to make the numbers “cleaner.” For example, instead of saying that LATCH should be discontinued at 42 lbs, the label could state 45 lbs.

NHTSA did concede that in some cases, this could make the total weight of the child plus seat exceed 65 lbs. Say a seat weighs 37 lbs. 65 minus 37 is 28 lbs, but to keep things simple, the manufacturer could state a child weight of 30 lbs. That means that the actual total weight would be 67 lbs (and feasibly a combination could get as high as 69 lbs.) but NHTSA believes anchors will be strong enough to allow for that slight variation.

It is important to note that the rules are slightly different (and slightly more confusing) for rear-facing. NHTSA is ok with allowing the total forward-facing weight to go a bit over 65 lbs because the top tether helps reduce some of the force on the lower anchors. Rear-facing, though, the lower anchors take all the force. In that situation, NHTSA doesn’t want the LATCH weight to exceed 65 lbs at all. So if manufacturers want to round the weights to nice numbers they can, but they need to assume a 60-lb total when they do. That ensures that the total weight will not be more than 65 lbs, even if they round up.

Confused yet?

Let’s take the Graco Smart Seat as an example. It weighs just under 34 lbs. That means the total child weight would be 31 lbs. (65-34=31) Graco has two choices for listing the forward-facing LATCH limit. They can put 31, or they can round up to 35, which puts the actual limit at 69, but that’s still considered compliant. (Graco can also put a lower number if they’d like.) For rear-facing, they can use the actual 31-lb weight or a lower number, but they cannot round up since the total rear-facing LATCH weight must not exceed 65 lbs.

That means that a seat could have different LATCH limits rear-facing and forward-facing. (In cases where the weight limit is different, manufacturers will either have to take the lower of the two weights and include one limit and diagram, or they can provide two separate ones. In the situation above, Graco could choose to list a 30-lb weight limit regardless of which direction the seat faces.)

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Background behind the Decisions

So what logic is behind this madness? Believe it or not, it actually makes some sense.

KidsEmbrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Carseat Unboxing & Giveaway!

Kids Embrace 1[1]

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED.  Thank you for entering, a winner will be announced soon!

During the ABC Show in October, we saw a prototype of the KidsEmbrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle combination seat. We posted a photo of it to our Facebook page, and the response was overwhelming: People want Ninja Turtle seats!

Fans will be happy to know that it’s available now! The KidsEmbrace Ninja Turtle seat is available from Amazon and other fine retailers.

This “combination” seat is forward-facing only and rated from 22-65 pounds with a 5-point harness. After the harness is outgrown, it can be used as a booster seat. We’ll have the full review soon, but in the meantime, here’s the unboxing for you:

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Carseat Giveaway:

Winner must have a shipping address in the Continental US (Canada, Alaska and Hawaii are excluded – sorry!)

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ABC Expo 2013: The Stroller Update – What’s New from Baby Jogger, Mamas & Papas, Jané & More

Baby Jogger

We’re obviously a bunch of car-seat nerds here at CarseatBlog, but we appreciate other baby gear, too. In fact, it might be safe to say that the product that impressed us the most at the ABC Kids Expo wasn’t a car seat at all, but a stroller: The Baby Jogger Vue. It left us drooling and speechless.

The Vue is an umbrella stroller with the features of a deluxe full-size.

First, the seatback can change directions so the child can ride facing out or facing you. That alone would make it pretty awesome, but wait! There’s more!

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The footrest can fold up to form a barrier for little babies’ feet, or can fold down for bigger kids. That fold-up footrest also serves the purpose of forming a “purse pocket” when it’s folded on the side not being used. (For example, when the child is riding forward-facing, you can fold up the rear-facing footrest to form a “basket” that’s easier to reach than the one under the seat. Brilliant!)

The stroller will be able to accept car seats Maxi-Cosi and Cybex car seats, and they’re hoping to create adapters for other brands, as well. It can also hold a bassinet (sold separately).

  

Ho-Ho-Homade Ornaments

salt dough 2Maybe it’s because Thanksgiving was so late, or maybe it’s because this is our first holiday season in a cold environment, but we cannot wait for Christmas this year! I’ve been itching to do some crafts, and I figured the day after Thanksgiving was the perfect time since there was no way you’d find me heading to the mall.

Now, I consider myself a fairly crafty person. I love doing crafts, but I’ll admit I don’t love doing them with my kids. I have a low tolerance for glue and paint in all the wrong places. But I also know it’s good for them to get creative and for me to step out of my comfort zone, so this Black Friday, it was all about family crafting.

snowmanFirst up were the Melted Snowmen ornaments. I forget where I first saw these, but I filed it away in my mind a long time ago. You fill plastic (or glass, if you’re brave) ornaments with salt, add some peppercorn “coal,” and carrots and sticks made of polymer clay. Sculpting the clay parts was the most time-consuming step, but even that went pretty fast. A few minutes to bake and cool, then everything got added to the globes. (Hint: Use a funnel for the salt!) The whole project took less than an hour.

Next: salt dough ornaments. I turned to the interwebs for a good recipe, but everything I found was different, and people reported different levels of success. I lucked out on my choice, though. The dough worked beautifully, and the end result feel more like bisque or stone than baked dough. Here’s the recipe I used:

salt dough2 cups flour

1 cup salt

3/4 cup warm water (plus more if it’s too dry–I needed just a bit more)

Mix together with a spoon then knead until smooth.

I rolled mine out to 3/8″ then we used various cookie cutters to make our designs. Remember to add holes for hanging!

Bake at 200 degrees for two hours. (I put mine on parchment paper, but the bottoms wound up still damp so I had to put them back in without. Next time I’ll skip the parchment.)

The colored ones were stamped with regular stamp-pad ink before they were baked. We planned on painting the other ones, but I think we might leave some blank because the stone-look is so cool.

(In case you’re wondering, I ordered the Minecraft and Starbucks cookie cutters from a seller on Etsy.)

The day wasn’t without mishaps. My 2-year-old spilled a whole bottle of peppercorns on the floor (those things can roll!) and I wound up vacuuming four times. But we had so much fun, I just might declare every Black Friday “Ornament Day.”

What are your favorite ornaments or holiday crafts to make with kids?