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“Bin the Booster” Campaign

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parkway knightThe “Bin the Booster” campaign is British Britax’s gift to the internet, much like Graco’s buckle recall—it keeps popping up in people’s feeds causing unnecessary panic and bewilderment on this side of the pond. In a simple crash test video, Britax compares a backless booster (portable booster cushion as they call them over there) to a high-back booster. In this video, the child dummy sitting on the backless booster rotates around the shoulder belt while the child dummy sitting in the high-back booster remains properly positioned.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 12.19.49 AM

It’s a marketing tool. Britax only makes high-back boosters. There’s nothing abnormal about the way either dummy reacts in this crash test. Crash tests are very scary to watch—the video slows things down to a speed to which we can comprehend what’s happening. If we were to watch it at full speed, at the end, we’d likely think, “OK, great,” and move on to the next thing. Slow motion gives great impact, doesn’t it? Probably the most important thing to notice, however, is that there are 2 different types of dummies used, and this can greatly affect motion in a crash test. Simply placing the stiffer dummy in the high-back booster makes it seem more appealing because it will have less movement around the seat belt. (As much as I’d like to take credit for noticing that, I am not a Euro dummy specialist. Car-seat.org member _juune pointed it out in one of our threads on this topic.) Once you’re aware of this tidbit, you can see the dummies are shaped differently.

There are some schools of thought that high-back boosters provide better protection, especially in side impacts. It makes sense, right? By having head wings filled with EPS or EPP foam surrounding your child’s head and torso in a crash, there’s something to take the impact and spread the force instead of having their head hit the door or window or side pillar. On the other hand, having that back on the seat puts the child several inches forward on the vehicle seat, closer to the front seat and side pillar. In a crash, the child could much more easily hit the front seat or pillar, especially in a small vehicle. Are we starting to overthink things here? Maybe I can help settle your thoughts with this quote from a study done by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (bolding mine):

This study reconfirms previous reports that BPB seats reduce the risk for injury in children 4 through 8 years of age by studying a greater percentage of children aged 6 to 8 years than previous studies. After adjustment for potential confounders, children who were aged 4 to 8 and using BPB seats were 45% less likely to sustain injuries than similarly aged children who were using the vehicle seat belt. Among children who were restrained in BPB seats, there was no evidence of a difference in the performance of backless versus high-back boosters.

Let’s also add side curtain airbags into the equation. Side curtain airbags are fabulous safety devices for all members of the family, including kids in carseats. These airbags deploy straight down the roofline of the vehicle to the bottom of the windowsill, protecting the head area of passengers. A child sitting on a backless booster will be boosted up to have the protection of the side curtain airbags. Of course, so will a child in a high-back booster. This is assuming your vehicle has side curtain airbags, which not all vehicles on the road do.

LX460airbags

So what can I do to make my kid safer in a booster?

  • Use your child’s harnessed seat until they outgrow it, which is when their shoulders reach the top harness slots, the weight limit is reached, or the tops of their ears are over the top of the carseat. If that happens before age 5, consider buying another harnessed seat with higher limits.
  • Use a booster seat. All the cool kids are doing it! Your child simply won’t fit safely in a seat belt made to fit an adult until they are adult-sized. Period. Boosters raise kids up so that seat belts fit them over their sturdy bones and are more comfortable.
  • Use a high-back booster in the beginning. New booster riders like the feeling of being in a carseat yet having more freedom, plus they have a place to rest their heads when they sleep.
  • Switch to a backless booster when they outgrow the high-back booster. Yep, kids grow and they grow fast. That high-back booster, even the tallest one on the market, will be outgrown by height before your child outgrows the need for a booster. So switch to using a backless until they can pass the 5-step test:

1. Can sit with bum all the way back.
2. Knees bend at the vehicle seat edge.
3. Shoulder belt centered over the shoulder.
4. Lap belt touches the thighs.
5. Can stay this way the entire ride.

2015 Britax ClickTight Convertible Carseat Recall

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RECALL: Britax Marathon ClickTight, Boulevard ClickTight, and Advocate ClickTight Convertible Carseats

Britax is recalling all Marathon Clicktight (CT), Boulevard CT, and Advocate CT convertible carseat model numbers manufactured between August 1, 2014 and July 29, 2015 (see list below). There is a defect with the harness release button that can cause the harness release button to stick in the down position and not lock the harness system. This will allow the harness to loosen during use. No injuries have been reported and roughly 200,000 seats are affected.

NHTSA Recall Information

 

Britax CT Recall

You have a ClickTight model if the seating panel opens to reveal the belt path like this:

adv-ct-tahoe-fl-open-300rgb

You can find your date of manufacture label on the ClickTight panel, under your child’s left leg:

Marathon CT DOM label

 

Here’s where the harness release button is:

Marathon CT  Harness Release Button clicktight

Britax issued this recall after confirming consumer complaints. We were told that NHTSA did not previously have an active investigation of this issue and did not initiate the recall. The fix kit will be sent automatically to owners who have registered their carseat within 7-10 days. It will include a food-grade dry lubricant that will not attract dirt and should not otherwise degrade over time. A label will also be included to indicate if the seat has had the remedy applied.

What Should I Do?

  • Consumers not having a button sticking issue should confirm that the harness release button presses and releases as expected and may continue using the seat.
  • If your carseat is affected because the harness release button becomes stuck, then discontinue using the seat IMMEDIATELY and use a different carseat until your fix kit arrives and you apply the fix as instructed.
  • For more information on this recall, go to http://britaxclicktightconvertiblerecall.com/.
  • If you haven’t yet registered your carseat, do so NOW: https://us.britax.com/service-support/product-registration/ .

This recall does NOT affect Frontier 90 ClickTight or Pinnacle 90 ClickTight combination carseats. It also does NOT affect Britax “G4.1”, G4, G3 or older convertible carseats.

We are told this issue is related to a manufacturing tolerance issue on a part from a supplier on a relatively small percentage of parts. Due to the nature of the part, we are advised that seats that have been used regularly for some time and have not previously exhibited this issue previously are extremely unlikely to develop this issue over time.  These seats that have not exhibited any problems in regular use would be safe to continue to use if you are able to tighten the harness and the straps remain locked and the button does not get stuck.

Also, in an emergency, it is possible to free a stuck harness adjustment button. This can be done by opening the ClickTight panel and pushing the plunger of the button mechanism out from underneath. Once it has been unstuck, the harness can be tightened and will lock for the duration of the trip. You must then discontinue use of an affected carseat as per Britax instructions below.

We are also told that there was a production change and retailers will be stocking updated models very soon.  A recall also applies to Canada: Transport Canada Recall Information.

From Britax: 

Dear Britax Consumer:

Britax Child Safety, Inc., in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Transport Canada, is conducting a recall of certain Advocate ClickTight, Boulevard ClickTight, and Marathon ClickTight model convertible car seats.  Britax has decided that these  models manufactured between August 1, 2014 and July 29, 2015 contain a defect with the harness adjuster button (red), which may pose a safety hazard.

Affected Model Numbers and Names:

Advocate ClickTight:

  • E9LT95Q ADVOCATE CT US, CIRCA
  • E9LT95Z ADVOCATE CT US, LIMELIGHT
  • E9LT95N ADVOCATE CT US, TAHOE
  • E1A025Q ADVOCATE CT XE CIRCA

Boulevard ClickTight:

 

  • E1A015Q BOULEVARD CT XE CIRCA
  • E1A016A BOULEVARD CT XE KALEIDOSCOPE
  • E1A016H BOULEVARD CT XE METRO
  • E1A135Q BOULEVARD CT US UCS, CIRCA
  • E9LT85Q BOULEVARD CT US, CIRCA
  • E9LT85S BOULEVARD CT US, SPLASH
  • E9LT86A BOULEVARD CT US, KALEIDOSCOPE
  • E9LT86F BOULEVARD CT US UCS, BLAKENEY
  • E9LT86G BOULEVARD CT US UCS, WESTIN
  • E9LT86H BOULEVARD CT US, METRO

Marathon ClickTight:

  • E1A005R MARATHON CT XE VERVE
  • E1A006B MARATHON CT XE TWILIGHT
  • E1A116L MARATHON CT TARGET, VIBE
  • E9LT71Q MARATHON CT US, COWMOOFLAGE
  • E9LT75R MARATHON CT US, VERVE
  • E9LT76B MARATHON CT US, TWILIGHT
  • E9LT76L MARATHON CT US, VIBE
  • E9LT76N MARATHON CT US, RIO
  • E9LT76P MARATHON CT US UCS, PRESCOTT
  • EXA116L MARATHON CT US, VIBE

 

ONLY THE SEATS WITH THIS CLICKTIGHT DIAL ARE INCLUDED IN THE RECALL

clicktight

NOTE: No other ClickTight products are included in this recall.  If your Britax product has a different model number than the model numbers listed above, it is NOT included in this recall.

Description of the Defect:  

Graco SnugRide 30 LX Review: History Repeats Itself in A Good Way

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Graco SR30 LX - GlacierReview of the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX  Rear-Facing Only Infant Seat

Graco’s SnugRide has been around in one form or another since 1998. That’s an honor only given to a very few carseats on the market and as the SnugRide has matured, it’s gotten more safety items—EPS foam—and better design—easier-to-install bases. Let’s see why this lightweight seat, the SnugRide 30 LX in particular, has remained a favorite of parents for so many years.

SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX Specs & Features:

  • Rear-facing only: 4-30 lbs.; 30″ or less and head must be 1” below top of seat
  • 4 harness height positions
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Thick energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Easy to remove cover is machine washable
  • FAA-approved for use in an airplane
  • 7 year lifespan before expiration

Extra SnugRide 30 ClickConnect bases are available for $49.99

SnugRides come in 2 flavors: Classic Connect and Click Connect. Unlike some ice creams, these 2 flavors don’t mix well and a Classic Connect SnugRide carrier can’t be paired with a Click Connect SnugRide base and vice versa. The “Classic” and “Click” describe the connections the carriers make to the carseat base and strollers. What’s currently available in each line?

There are 2 versions of the SnugRide 30 Click Connect: the $99 version has a rear-adjust harness while the $129 LX version has a front harness adjuster. The LX version also has a larger infant insert and includes harness strap covers. Another difference that sets the LX version apart is that it has a removable flip piece for the base that helps adjust the recline angle in 4° increments. If more recline is required, noodles may be used. This flip piece can be easily lost because it’s not connected to the base in any way, but when properly attached to the base, you will hear and feel a “click” as it snaps on. If you lose the flip piece, either order a new one from Graco or use a piece of noodle or tightly rolled towel.

SnugRide 30 LX flip piece 2 SnugRide 30 LX flip piece 3 SnugRide 30 LX base bottom SnugRide 30 LX base bottom with flip piece

SnugRide Click Connect 30 LX Measurements:

  • Harness slot heights: 6 ¾”, 8 ¾”, 10 ¾”, 12 ¾”
  • Lowest harness slot height with body insert: 6 ¾”
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions (without insert): 4”, 5 ½”
  • Internal shell height: 20”
  • Width of base footprint at beltpath: 13 ¾”
  • Length of base footprint: 17”
  • Width of base at widest point: 14”
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17 ¼”(outside of handle)
  • Carrier weight: 7.4 lbs. with insert; 7.2 lbs. without insert

GlacierMarcoSapphire

Fit-to-Vehicle

Recline angle indicator

Are You Making These Carseat Mistakes?

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MaggieMargeDriveMost parents think, “I got this,” when they look at a carseat. I mean, really, it’s just some straps that go over your kid, right? Everyone who has a kid has to use a carseat, and we all know there are some parents out there barely qualified to have kids in the first place who are able to get from point A to point B and keep their offspring alive, so it’s not rocket science, right? Wrong. Sometimes we make mistakes that we look back on and say, “I can’t believe my child survived my parenting!” It’s a saying in our house that we’re not saving for college; we’re saving for the therapists’ bills, lol. Let’s look at some very common carseat mistakes and see their simple fixes so your offspring can ride safely enough to make it to college… or therapy sessions—whichever way your family sways.

Loose Installation

Whether using the lower LATCH connectors or the seat belt for installation, your carseat moves more than 1” when you give a tug at the belt path. Make sure you tug at the belt path only; that’s the only place where the carseat is connected to the vehicle. If you check for tightness anywhere else on the carseat, it’s going to move more than 1″. There’s nothing holding it to the car there, right?

Let’s define “tug”. A tug is like a firm handshake or a shake on a shoulder that doesn’t move someone’s head back and forth (heh, you don’t want to give them whiplash). You use your non-dominant hand to give this tug so you’re not tempted to shake the rivets out of the seat.

correct incorrect

Can’t Lock the Seat Belt (Loose Installation Corollary)

Sometimes your installation is loose because you can’t figure out how to lock your seat belt to keep it tight on the carseat. Seat belts lock either at the retractor or at the latchplate. All model year 1996 and newer vehicles must have locking seat belts and some vehicles manufactured before 1996 have them as well. The retractor spools up all the length of the belt and is hidden inside the wall of the vehicle or inside the vehicle seat back. At least 90% of all modern vehicles have switchable retractors that can lock the seatbelt to hold a carseat tightly in place.

This is how you test for a switchable retractor: Pull the shoulder belt portion of the seat belt out of the retractor slowly and smoothly until you reach the end and can’t pull it out any further. Then feed a few inches of the belt back into the retractor. You may hear a ratcheting sound as the seatbelt feeds back into the retractor in the locked mode (although some retractors are very quiet most will make a noticeable clicking sound once they are switched into locked mode). Stop after feeding a few inches of the belt back in and try to pull it back out again. If it won’t come back out, it’s locked and now you know that this seat belt has a switchable retractor that you must switch to the locked mode if you are installing a carseat in this seating position.

Other seat belts lock at the latchplate (male end of the seat belt). These are mostly found on Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles. To see if your seat belt locks in these vehicles, buckle the seat belt and pull up on the lap belt. If it holds tight, your latchplate locks.

lightweight locking latchplate

If you can’t get your seat belt to lock because your car was made before 1996, you have to use either a carseat with a built-in lockoff or a locking clip. If you want to read more about locking clips, you can click here. Lockoffs that are built into certain carseats are much easier to use than a locking clip and worth the extra price. Read about which carseats have lockoffs here.

Loose Harness

Yeah, you can’t just buckle the harness, it has to be snug on the kid or they’ll go flying out of the seat. If you can take a pinch of the harness above the chest clip, the harness is too loose so pull it tighter.

Pinch Test

Chest Clip or Belly Clip?

You know those plastic pieces that clip together across the kid’s middle? That’s called a chest clip. Some carseat manufacturers’ get all uppity and call it a harness retainer clip. Call it what does and where it goes and you’ll never forget! Chest clip. The top of the chest clip is placed at the armpits. Any higher and it’s at the kid’s throat, especially for babies. Any lower and it may not be able to do its job as a pre-crash positioner.

chest clips

Trusting Your Pediatrician for Carseat Advice

Do the initials “CPST” follow your pediatrician’s MD after his name? If not, he’s not qualified to give you carseat advice. Just like I’m not qualified to give you medical advice on your child’s rash (gee, that really does look like Ichthyosis en confetti—you should have that checked out), your ped is not qualified to give you advice on vehicle safety matters. Between charting, keeping up with ever-changing youth medicine, and making hospital rounds, most peds simply don’t have the time to keep up with the dynamic field of child passenger safety unless it’s a special interest. That’s why you come to us for answers on vehicle safety.

Turning Forward Too Soon

You may not admit it online, but turning your wee one forward before age 2 is really dangerous. I’ve heard all the arguments in my 14½ years of tech-ing: my child’s legs hurt because they’re scrunched, my best-friend’s-mother-in-law’s-phlebotomist’s-daughter’s-pediatrician told her to turn her son forward at 9 months because of a risk of hip injury, my child has to be able to see the DVD screen we spent top-dollar for, and so on. The truth is, if you turn your kid forward before age 2, *you’re* the one who is uncomfortable with the idea of rear-facing, not your child. Studies and years of rear-facing children have shown that rear-facing is not only safe, it’s loads safer for kids.

It’s so important to rear-face your toddler that two carseat manufacturers now mandate it, at least for some of their carseat models. Britax requires a 2-year and 25 lbs. minimum on all of their forward-facing harness-2-booster seats. And Dorel, parent company of Cosco, Safety 1st, and Eddie Bauer, says that your kids must be 2 before they can be turned forward-facing in several of their new convertible seats. I’m not pulling your leg—it’s right there in the manual.

NEXT manual

Commercials on TV claim that the best way to start your baby’s life is to use the best diapers or best formula (if you can’t breastfeed, of course). We feel the very best thing you can do for your kid in the child passenger safety world is to use an appropriate carseat or booster on every single ride. After the infant seat is outgrown, continue to rear-face your child until they reach the rear-facing height or weight limit of their convertible carseat. And install the seat tightly. And tighten the harness appropriately. And make sure the chest clip is properly placed. The crazy thing about kids and carseats is that there are so many things that can go wrong with them that we need an entire profession to help parents get it right! I remember making some of these mistakes—and more. Aye yi yi. It’s amazing we’re all still here.