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Cardiff Travel Headrest Review

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Cardiff Headrest attachedMost people can stay awake on car trips for more than 15 minutes; not me. I must have been a really easy baby to put to sleep on a bad night—I’m sure my parents threw me on the floorboard of the car and only had to drive around the block once before I was quickly in slumberland. I don’t mind sleeping in the car as my husband drives, but the problem is that he and the kids derive great pleasure from my snorting myself awake as my head bobs to and fro. I just know one of these days there will be a video. Enter the Cardiff Travel Headrest.

Features

  • 14 customizable positions
  • Removable sleeves are machine-washable
  • Universal mount for head restraint poles

The Cardiff Travel Headrest attaches to your vehicle head restraint poles, you know, those silver things that hold the head restraint onto your seat. Yes, you must have this type or the Travel Headrest won’t work for you. It has adjustable wings that rotate up and down so you can place them where they are most comfortable for you.

Cardiff headrest attachment

Setup time will vary. On my ’11 Acura MDX, the head restraint poles are kind of thick, so I had trouble with the length of the hook screws being *just* long enough to fit. I’ve learned to set up the Travel Headrest the night before and it takes only a couple of minutes, rather than feeling pressured while my husband stands there tapping his foot and sighing as I try to install it just before we leave. You do not need to remove your vehicle head restraint to install the Travel Headrest.

Cardiff Headrest up Cardiff Headrest down

We talked to the designers at an ABC Show several years ago and they designed the Travel Headrest for kids using backless booster users. But hey, we can’t have the little tikes having all the good stuff, now can we? I actually prefer that kids use a highback booster if they still need head support like this for sleeping, but this is a good travel option for larger kids who may have outgrown a highback in height, but still need a backless booster. It can also be a good option for tweens and teens who can pass the 5-Step Test and ride without a booster but miss having a place to rest their heads to sleep on a long drive.

Check your vehicle owner’s manual, though, to see if you have active head restraints. You don’t want to use the Travel Headrest in these seating positions since it will interfere with the active head restraint in a crash. Your vehicle manual will tell you which seating positions, if any, are equipped with the active head restraints. Active head restraints travel up and forward to reduce the distance between your head/neck and the vehicle seat when your body puts force on the vehicle seat back in a crash, so you can see how it isn’t a good idea to put anything on those poles.

The Travel Headrest doesn’t fold down nicely for storage, nor does it have a pouch to keep the hooks with it, so I shove them down inside one of the wings and cross my fingers they don’t fall out. I wish the headrest folded laterally so it could be stored in a drawer or on a shelf; right now I have it on a hook way up high, out of the way.

The Cardiff guys have a Kickstarter that may work on vehicle head restraints that are incompatible with the Travel Headrest. Cardiff Wings is designed to be used on an airplane seat, but since it slips over the top of head restraint, it may work in some vehicles too. It’s hard to say for sure until we have a chance to play with this product when it becomes available. Again, I would not put it on a vehicle seat with an active head restraint.

Cardiff Wings

Cardiff Wings on Kickstarter

Cardiff Advantages

  • Comfortable car sleep, are you kidding me???
  • Adjustable wings
  • Fits vehicle head restraints as long as they have poles
  • Simple enough for kids to adjust
  • Machine-washable sleeves

Cardiff Headrest

Disadvantages

  • Could interfere with active head restraints on vehicle seat
  • Wings flip up for storage on seat, but if you are using for yourself in the front passenger’s seat – it could interfere with the driver’s vision
  • Doesn’t fold flat for storage
  • Hook screws could be ¼” longer for easier installation

2016 IIHS LATCH Ease-of-Use Ratings Released

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IIHS Reports Vehicle Manufacturers Respond, Make Improvements in LATCH Hardware

tsxwagonlatchFor the 2nd year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released their LATCH Ease-of-Use ratings for parents who are contemplating purchasing a new vehicle. Most parents look at safety features, such as airbags, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and so on, without realizing that being able to install their carseats easily is also a safety feature. When Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren was introduced in 2002, it was hailed as the panacea for poorly installed child seats; instead, it’s brought confusion, frustration, and ultimately carseat manufacturers who try to discourage its use. So why should you care about LATCH ease-of-use when buying a car?

When we as technicians teach parents how to install their carseats, we always go for the easiest method first and that usually is LATCH, especially for rear-facing carseats. If the lower anchors that the LATCH connectors attach to on the vehicle are difficult to find for technicians, parents are likely to be doubly frustrated. Most of the time we can finagle the LATCH connectors onto the anchor, but what if you have rigid LATCH, which is becoming more popular? Rigid LATCH is supposed to be an insanely easy install where you simply push it onto the lower anchors, but if you can’t access the anchors because they’re so buried in the vehicle seat bight (crack) or blocked by stiff leather, you’re not getting some of that ease of installation for which you paid. I still get sympathetic Braxton Hicks contractions when some of my more stubborn pregnant mamas try to dig around and find their lower anchors.

Last year, the IIHS found that only 3 of 102 vehicles passed their criteria for a good rating with more than half being poor or marginal. This year, however, vehicle manufacturers paid attention and 3 models, the 2017 Audi Q7, the 2016 Lexus RX, and the 2016 Toyota Prius, received the top rating of Good+ and most of the 170 vehicles rated good or acceptable. It’s notable that there aren’t any minivans, considered to be top young family haulers, in the Good or Good+ categories. One heavily advertised minivan, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica manufactured after August 2016 received a Marginal score whereas models manufactured before September 2016 received a Poor score.

toyota_iihs_latch_02_e15ebb531d38a929d24f9807c5303865ed7ac729_lowHere are side-by-side comparisons of the Toyota Prius model years 2015 and 2016. Toyota improved access by adding a flap of fabric to the vehicle seat bight (previously seen on the Sienna) so the lower anchors can be easily seen when the flap is lifted and can be borrowed in the center seating position, which is new for Toyota (though problematic since the LATCH strap would cover the driver’s side seat buckle). The top tether anchors are easy to find.

2015-toyota-prius-latch-rating 2016-toyota-prius-latch-rating

IIHS researchers used tools to measure the depth of the anchors in the vehicle seat bight and the clearance angle. They also measured how far in from the edge of the bight they are found. Top tether anchors were rated on their locations as well. The goal is to have LATCH anchors that are easy to find right away because they’re clearly labeled and easily accessed. Vehicles receive a Good rating if they have the following:

  • The lower anchors are no more than 3/4 inch deep in the seat bight.
  • The lower anchors are easy to maneuver around. This is defined as having a clearance angle greater than 54 degrees.
  • The force required to attach a standardized tool to the lower anchors is less than 40 pounds. (The tool represents a lower connector of a child seat, though the actual force required when installing a seat varies depending on the specific connector.)
  • Tether anchors are on the vehicle’s rear deck or on the top 85 percent of the seatback. They shouldn’t be at the very bottom of the seatback, under the seat, on the ceiling or on the floor.
  • The area where the tether anchor is found doesn’t have any other hardware that could be confused for the tether anchor. If other hardware is present, then the tether anchor must have a clear label located within 3 inches of it.

A Good+ rating is achieved if a vehicle also provides another LATCH-equipped seating position with a good or acceptable LATCH rating.

What does this mean if your perfect vehicle has a less than perfect LATCH ease-of-use rating? It means you now know that installing a carseat using the lower anchors and/or top tether may be more difficult. Since IIHS gives you an explanation of why each seating position has its difficulties, you are armed with information, which is powerful—the more you know, right? Remember, you don’t *have* to install your carseat with the lower anchors and in fact, at some point with a convertible and combination carseat, you will have to switch to the vehicle seat belt because of weight limits (see your carseat and vehicle instruction manuals and labels).

2016 Graco Milestone Label Recall

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Graco is recalling about 6,000 Milestone All-in-One carseats due to missing information on a label. This DOES NOT affect the safety of the carseats, but the information is required by NHTSA. The phrase, “secure this child restraint with the vehicle’s child restraint anchorage system, if available, or with a vehicle belt,” is missing from a large label on the side of the carseat.

Milestone Kline2016 Milestone Recall Label

Graco Milestone carseats affected include models manufactured between July 2015 and October 2015:

Milestone Model #s Manufacture Dates
1910130 07/09/2015 through 10/09/2015
1923980 08/04/2015
1926538 09/12/2015
1926539 08/17/2015

You can find the model number and date of manufacture on the back of the carseat or on the bottom on a label that looks like this:

2016 Milestone sample DOM label

For more information on the recall, visit the Graco Milestone Recall page.

4moms Self-Installing Infant Car Seat Preview – the future has arrived!

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4moms Self-Installing Car Seat

4moms - carseat with baby in vehicle 

The 4moms infant car seat is expected to ship by late September 2016. 

Features:
  • 4-30 lbs., up to 32” or head 1” below top of headrest
  • Base auto-levels and auto-tensions
  • Continuous monitoring while carrier is on base
  • No re-thread harness
  • 8 position adjustable headrest
  • Buckle tongs covered by plastic
  • Smooth harness adjuster
  • Buckle pockets to keep harness out of the way
  • Extra-large canopy with peekaboo window
  • Infant insert for 4-11 lbs.
  • Can be installed without base using Euro belt path routing
  • Machine washable cover
  • 2 year warranty
  • MSRP $499.99

4moms adjustable headrest 4moms harness open side view

An app, initially available for iPhone users—available for Android users in a few months—continuously checks that the base is correctly tensioned, the lower LATCH connectors are correctly attached, the recline angle is appropriate, the carrier is correctly affixed to the base, the battery life is satisfactory, and the child is within the correct size range. The app also offers tips and tricks on different installation types, such as a baseless installation, how to adjust the harness, and how to replace the batteries on the base.

4moms app 4moms app2

The base requires 8 D-sized batteries, but it is designed to last for the regular use of one child. Of course, each child grows at a different rate, so your mileage may vary. To install the base, you attach the lower LATCH connectors then press a button on the side of the base. The programming ticks through steps that check whether or not the LATCH connectors are securely attached to the vehicle’s LATCH anchors, the tension in the LATCH strap is correct, and the recline angle is correct. If any of these things are off, you’ll either be notified by an alarm (in the case of the lower anchors not being attached) or the base will automatically be installed. Don’t worry about needing a rolled towel or stack of noodles: the adjustable foot on the base can accommodate even the deepest of sloped bucket seats. And never fear! You can install the base manually and with the seat belt if you choose.

4moms recommends leaving the handle in the “up” position in the car—plop the carrier in the base and go. The carrier can also be installed baseless using European bethpath routing. The included infant insert is mandatory until baby weighs 8 lbs. and must come out once baby weighs 11 lbs. Accessories will initially include a foot muff and all-weather cover. The carrier weighs 10 lbs.

4moms in Model X

The carseat is available for order now directly from 4moms and will be available in stores in late September. Compatible strollers include the 4moms moxi stroller, Baby Jogger® City Mini® and City Mini® GT, Bugaboo®Cameleon3, and UPPAbaby® Vista® and Cruz® when used with an adapter, which is sold separately.

4moms moxi

The 4moms Infant Car Seat is available in grey and black for $499.

4 moms - black and grey