Babies Archive

The Best and Safest Carseat

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail
What Is the Best Car Seat?

BEST safest most desirable carseatblog recommended carseatI want the Best and Safest Carseat for my child. Before my first child was born, I tried to find information on what the best infant carseat was at the time; this was before Google, so not an easy feat. Then when he outgrew his infant seat, I wanted the best convertible seat for him, which led me on a multi-month search and ultimately to my becoming a child passenger safety technician instructor. We all want the very best for our progeny—it’s human nature. So how do we determine what the best carseat is?

If you’ve been around any carseat forums, you may have heard this timeworn phrase: the best carseat is the one that fits your vehicle, fits your child, and fits your budget. It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Yet when we get to the store, or look online, we often throw caution to the wind and base our purchase on the appearance of the carseat. “Oh, I love the butterflies on this one,” or, “The red color of this carseat is so nice!” Or even, yes, “This one matches the baby’s nursery.”

Let’s examine each part of the phrase in detail.

Fits Your Vehicle

The carseat should fit in your vehicle moving less than 1” when you tug at the belt path. It will move more if you tug on it further away from the belt path because the only place securing it to the vehicle is at the belt path. If you’re buying a convertible carseat that rear-faces and forward-faces, you want it to fit both rear-facing and forward-facing. You cannot assume that just because it fits rear-facing, it will fit forward-facing too. Install it both ways before you buy it or keep the box and receipt so you can return it if it doesn’t fit when you get it home.

correct install testing at FF belt path

Fits Your Child

Your child *must* fit within the size and age (if any) requirements of the seat before being able to use it. For example, most rear-facing only infant seats require infants’ shoulders to be at or above the bottom slots. If your baby’s shoulders are below those bottom slots, she’s too small to use the seat. Another example is the Britax Frontier 90 combination carseat. Your child must be 25 lbs. AND at least age 2 to use this seat per the instruction manual.

Children also have preferences for carseats. Some kids don’t mind sparsely padded carseats, while others demand luxurious padding. Some children don’t tolerate certain fabrics or need harness shoulder pads. Trying your child out in the carseat in the store helps you determine which seat they may like.

 4-yr-old 40" FF in Momentum 4EVER HB Ody

Fits Your Budget

This is the “kind of goes without saying” part of the phrase. There are so many great carseats in so many different prices ranges now that with *any* budget, you can find a carseat to fit your requirements. Back when my son was born, if we wanted a carseat with EPS foam, we had two choices and both were over $150 (one was close to $300, if my poor memory serves me correctly). Parents back then really did go into debt to buy carseats. Now most carseats have some sort of energy management foam or system and you don’t have to promise that firstborn to a cult to get it.

Cooper Foonf Scenera NEXT

Use It Correctly Each and Every Ride

I’m adding in my own extra ending here. What’s the point of having a carseat that installs well in your car, fits your child well, and didn’t put you into debt if you don’t use it correctly every time? We techs all have seen the most expensive Clek and Britax seats with loose installations and loose harnesses that won’t do a darn thing in a crash for the kids riding in them. If you can’t use that carseat correctly each time, was it really a good deal? Nope.

You really can find a good carseat that meets all of the above criteria. By consulting lists, like our shiny new Comparison ToolRecommended Carseats List and our Carseat Reviews, and asking questions at our Forum, you’ll find the Best Carseat and learn from our mistakes.

Evenflo Embrace DLX Infant Carseat with “SensorSafe” Technology

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

sensorsafe embrace, transmitter signalEvenflo recently announced that they are about to launch their new SensorSafe Embrace DLX infant carseat. This is the first carseat on the market to feature technology integrated into the chest clip. This particular Embrace infant seat model will launch in August and will be available for purchase at Walmart. MSRP is $149.99.

“SensorSafe” was designed to help prevent children from being accidentally left behind in cars. Before you rush to judgement on this issue, please take a moment to read this article.

What kind of person forgets a baby?

The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.

The frightening reality is that everyone is capable of such an unimaginable act. I know what you’re thinking – everyone but you. *You* don’t need to be reminded that your baby is in the vehicle because *you* would never forget. It’s so easy to make yourself believe that because think of the alternative! What kind of parent believes that they could actually forget their child in the car??? But it happens. Over and over. Year after year. And there is no doubt that technology like this can – and will, save lives.

Moving beyond the debates and the horrors of reality – let’s talk briefly about how SensorSafe technology works. Keep in mind that we will have a complete review of this updated Embrace 35 model and the SensorSafe Technology in the very near future. In the mean time, if you’re looking for more info on the carseat itself – you can check out our existing review of the Evenflo Embrace 35.

How SensorSafe Technology Works:

  • Two components – a transmitter inside the chest clip and a receiver plug
  • Insert receiver plug into your vehicle’s OBDII port (receiver plug works with model year 2008 or newer vehicles with gas or diesel engine; if you have a hybrid or start/stop vehicle you will need a different receiver plug which you can get by calling Evenflo customer service)
  • Receiver plug communicates with transmitter in chest clip once vehicle starts moving
  • If chest clip is unbuckled while vehicle is moving, a series of tones will sound within 30 seconds
  • When vehicle is turned off, a series of tones will immediately remind driver the driver that there is a child buckled in the carseat

Evenflo SensorSafe - chest clip Evenflo SensorSafe - receiver

For more specific information on SensorSafe please see Evenflo’s FAQ page: http://www.evenflo.com/uploadedFiles/Pages/Products/Evenflo/SensorSafe/sensorsafe_faqs.pdf

Evenflo Sensorsafe Embrace - peridot Evenflo Sensorsafe Embrace - boot and canopy Evenflo Embrace DLX with SensorSafe - Kona

 

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail
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?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

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.