Babies Archive

2016 Infant Carseat Safety Ratings from Consumer Reports – 17 new models evaluated

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The Safest Infant Carseats:  Best, Better or Basic?  How do infant seats compare?

Today, Consumer Reports released their second round of infant carseat ratings using their new test methodology for evaluating infant child safety seats. We feel these ratings are likely to be a big step forward and should help parents to compare the crash safety of carseats. In the long term, just like the 5-star rating system from NHTSA and the IIHS Top Safety Pick ratings for automobiles, more rigorous testing often leads to better product designs in the future.

Why did Consumer Reports create their own crash test for child restraints?

Consumer Reports wanted to provide consumers with comparative information on carseats. By developing their own crash test, the goal was to determine which carseats offered an extra margin of safety in certain crash conditions simulated by the new tests. We know all carseats sold in the U.S. should meet federal safety standards but we also know all carseats aren’t the same. The goal here was to determine which seats could hold up well even under tougher crash test conditions that were also more “real world” than the current tests.

How is this test different from the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test?  

The Consumer Reports crash test was developed to be more rigorous than the current federal safety standards. They also designed the test with more real world vehicle conditions in mind. This new test is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. It uses a contemporary vehicle seat with a lap/shoulder seatbelt and a floor below it, unlike the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test which has a 70’s era back seat test bench with lap-only seatbelts and no floor. There is also a “blocker plate” installed in front of the test seat to simulate the interaction that occurs between the carseat and the front seat in a real crash. This is important because in the real world we know children are often injured when they come into contact with the back of the front seat during a crash. Consumer Reports also chose to run their tests at 35 mph; the government’s crash test is 30 mph.

Consumer Reports - test buck

What is the rating scale?

The crash protection ratings will indicate a “BASIC,” “BETTER,” or “BEST” score for crash protection. The rating is based on a combination of injury measures. While we don’t know exactly where they drew the line between best and better, we do know that seats receiving a “best” rating for crash protection performed statistically better than other peer models for crash performance.

A seat can be downgraded to a “basic” rating if there are repeatable structural integrity issues or if the dummy records injury measures that are considerably higher than the other peer models tested. Seats with a “basic” rating are still considered safe to use because they do meet all the safety standards in FMVSS 213. Please try to keep in mind that these are VERY challenging new tests and there will always be some designs that outperform others.

CR also gives each seat a separate overall numeric score which is based on its crash protection rating and other factors like ease of installation with seatbelt or lower LATCH anchors and ease of use. Seats with high overall scores will have a “better” or “best” crash protection rating plus they are considered easy to install properly and easy to use correctly.

Below we have listed the crash protection rating for the infant seats that received either a “Best” or a “Basic” rating for crash protection.  If you want to see the full ratings for all the seats they tested, which include 22 additional models in the “Better” rating category (plus all the overall numeric scores and comments), they are available only to subscribers. An annual online subscription to ConsumerReports.org is $26.

Infant Carseat Ratings

keyfitsurgeNot surprisingly, their top overall performers (combination of crash protection plus ease of installation and ease of use) are the Chicco KeyFit & Chicco KeyFit 30 models, which are also on our list of Recommended Carseats.

NUNA PIPA + BASE WITH LOAD LEGWe note that the Asana 35 DLX (our review of the Asana is coming very soon), Cybex Aton 2, Cybex Aton Q, & Nuna Pipa were all tested using their load leg feature. Thanks to the load leg, these seats were all top performers in crash protection. Unfortunately, a load leg cannot be used on the government’s FMVSS 213 crash test sled, as that sled does not have a floor. 

Below is a table of the infant carseat models which received a “Best” rating for crash protection, as well as those that only received a “Basic” rating. 

Someone call the wahhhhhmbulance

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screaming baby clip art…because I think I’m about to lose my head. How many times have you said this to yourself from the front seat as your baby screams bloody murder behind you in their car seat?

Trust me, I know the feeling. It’s a cross between extreme sadness from hearing the wails, and a stabby frustration that there’s nothing you can do about it. Half of me wanted to beg and plea for his mercy for having strapped him into such an obvious torture device, and the other half of me wanted to scream, “FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST SLEEP IN THE CAR LIKE EVERY OTHER BABY ON THIS GODFORSAKEN PLANET?????”. Instead I just white knuckled it every drive and blasted my music while taking deep breaths.

I’m not sure why some babies hate the car. It seemed to me that everyone I knew had babies that slept like angels as soon as the car started moving. Heck, if their kids wouldn’t go to bed, the solution was to pop them in the car and go for a drive. Then there was Liam, who transformed into a diaper wearing, spit up wielding Gremlin who would gladly claw your eyes out if given the chance and had a scream with a pitch that could summon the gods to an otherworldly war.

My first born.

My first born.

I’m fairly certain I have 20 years worth of hearing loss that occurred in one trip to Target. Nothing I did helped. Nothing. He literally screamed every car trip from the time he “woke up” from his newborn slumber at around 3 weeks till he was about 18 months old. He did have reflux, so that probably contributed. But mostly I think it’s that he hates any form of physical restraint on his body. I’ve never understood people’s insistence on having an infant seat that attaches to a stroller because I’ve never experienced a moment where I wasn’t scrambling to unbuckle them out of their car seat! Even sweet, easy going Declan would never ever be content in a car seat that wasn’t in the car. He wasn’t a car screamer-thank god- but there was no way on this green earth that he was going to lay in his infant seat while we strolled through the store. As soon as the car engine turned off he would fuss until he was unbuckled and freed.

Hi, I'm the easier second child but I will still make your shopping trip one you will never forget if you don't get me out of this thing as soon as you cut the engine.

Hi, I’m the easier second child but I will still make your shopping trip one you will never forget if you don’t get me out of this thing as soon as you cut the engine.

It was truly crippling, life with my car screamer. I plotted my days to exist solely in a 5 mile radius of my house because I couldn’t take anything longer. I declined invitations to family gatherings, birthday parties, etc that were too far. It wasn’t because I thought it was damaging to him; it was because it was damaging to ME. I have an extremely low tolerance for noise and that combined with the traffic in Phoenix just made it impossible for me.

So what can you do? Well I’m convinced nothing will stop it. But word on the streets from people who don’t have a Gremlin for a child is that there are some things you can try.

Numero uno: Consider switching to a

The Incredible (little?) Plasticman!

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If you know me, you know one of my peeves is when people try to swing my kids around by their arms or lift them up by their hands. I’m always the bad guy to ruin the fun for all. But here’s why:

Kids, especially the under 5 set, are pretty much just running around connected by rubber bands. It sounds crude to say, but it’s true. The ligaments holding their joints together are still fresh, and aren’t as strong as they will be later in childhood. One of the most common minor injuries of childhood is known as the “nursemaid elbow”. It occurs when a child is pulled hard by the arm, falls on it wrong, or is picked up or swung by their arms/hands. The weight is too much for the immature ligaments to handle, and the joint of the elbow partially or completely dislocates. It’s pretty painful for the child, and you’ll know right away if it happens. Kids will cry and refuse to use their arm.

elbow2

It’s pretty scary but fortunately it’s benign and a simple fix. Your pediatrician or the doctor at urgent care or the emergency room can quickly pop it back into place by doing a maneuver known as a reduction. It hurts for a split second but there’s immediate relief. The downside is if this happens to your child once, the odds of it happening again are pretty high, so you may be making multiple trips before your child’s ligaments firm up a bit after the age of 5 or 6.

I swear sometimes my 2 year old does look like this.

I swear sometimes my 2 year old does look like this.

You can prevent this from happening altogether by always leading your child gently by the arm (I know this is hard when you’re holding their hand and they are doing spaghetti legs and flailing around!), only lifting them by their armpits, and avoiding rough play that involves swinging them around by their hands or wrists. Sometimes it just happens regardless, but following those basic tips greatly reduces the chances that your toddler will have to go through the pain.

But if it does happen, don’t fret. It’s very common and sometimes it’s just another bump in the roller coaster of childhood.

Clek Carseat Cleaning Kit Review AND Giveaway

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Review of the Clek Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit

Clek Cleaning KitI’ve had some cool carseat assignments before, but this has to have been the best carseat job I’ve ever scored. I mean, how many people get to intentionally try to soil a carseat? I know it’s in the job description for most kids, but probably not for most adults, so I was pretty giddy. At first I did have second thoughts: my kids’ carseats were always the cleanest in the neighborhood and I once gave a ride home to another CPS tech who accused me of not really having kids because my van was so spotless. But Clek did ask if I would try out their Crypton for Clek Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit and how could I say no?

I assembled my tools:

  • Fllo dressed in Shadow Crypton fabric — check
  • ketchup — check
  • mustard — check
  • goldfish — check
  • grape jelly — check
  • jello — check
  • vomit — er, uncheck, ’cause, ew
  • lipstick — check
  • sunscreen — check
  • crayon — check
  • ice cream — check
  • Clek Cleaning Kit — check

dirty flloI set up my testing laboratory and went to work. I used the seat pad and sides where little hands grab because when kids eat, it either drops down or gets rubbed on the arms by dirty hands. I was a little afraid to hurt Fllo at the beginning, but like all pros, once I got started, all hesitance was thrown out the window and I laughed like a mad scientist. I crushed goldfish in a bowl and added water to create a thick paste that any toddler would recognize, I scribbled on the seat pad with the crayon then scribbled some more, and I rubbed sunscreen into the fabric as if it were my thighs rubbing the cream into the fabric. And then I let it sit and congeal and harden.

I made a video to show you how the cleaning kit worked in action. You really should watch it. I think I say “gross” somewhere in there. It’s a new classic, but so is the Clek Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit.

The goldfish and mustard left particles behind, even after I went over them with a second cleaning. I think if I worked on them some more, I could get them completely clean. I’m pleased to report that the spots where I used the solutions smell like the cleaning solution as opposed to the stains—no more sunscreen smell (or worse!). The solutions should NOT be used on the harness, but the brush can be used in a gentle manner with a mild soap and water to get the ground in grungies.

dirty Fllo seat clean Fllo

Advantages

  • Eco-friendly, no nasty chemicals
  • Very pleasant fragrance—barely noticeable
  • Actually cleans
  • Easy to use
  • Works on fabrics washed with water

Disadvantages

  • Wish it had a sprayer for each bottle

Conclusion

If you own a Clek seat, you probably should own the Clek Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit. Granted, the Crypton fabric is wipe-down friendly, but seats tend to get grimy over time and if you’re not the type to keep up with that wipe-down maintenance, a cleaner will come in handy for you (and it cleans the Drift fabric too). I had to search for a disadvantage, truly. And, it can be a wee bit confusing to determine which bottle to use as there is some overlap in what they clean; but, that works in your favor since you know one or the other will clean your stain. The price, $29.99, can be daunting but you don’t use much as you clean. Even the mustard and sunscreen, which proved to be my most stubborn stains, required very little of the solution. Like most things Clek, if you factor the price over time used, it’s well worth the money.

The Clek Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit is also available on Clek’s website.

Thank you to Clek for providing the Clek Fabric Cleaning + Stain Remover Kit to CarseatBlog.com. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.

We thought it would be great to bring this awesome kit to you to try, so be sure to sign up for our giveaway! We have one (1) available for the US and one (1) available for Canada. I know! How awesome is Clek?!

Giveaway: GIVEAWAY CLOSED

  • To enter, you MUST reply to this blog and leave a comment below (only 1 entry per household).
  • For extra entries, be sure follow the Rafflecopter instructions to visit our Facebook page, visit the Clek Facebook page, and tweet about the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now for the fine print (these may be in addition to the rules listed in the Rafflecopter terms) – Winner must have a U.S. shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded. You are not eligible if you have won a carseat or any sponsored giveaway at CarseatBlog.com during 2014 or 2015 (our own giveaways of goody bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned).  Blog writers and editors are also not eligible. 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 October 9, 2015, 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. Good luck! Winner must have a U.S. shipping address.  Hawaii and Alaska are also included (though may incur extra shipping fees).  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the fine print (these may be in addition to the rules listed in the Rafflecopter terms) – Winner must have Canadian shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded. You are not eligible if you have won a carseat or any sponsored giveaway at CarseatBlog.com during 2014 or 2015 (our own giveaways of goody bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned).  Blog writers and editors are also not eligible. 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 October 9, 2015, 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. Good luck!

Winner must have a Canadian shipping address.