Reviews Archive

Comparison of Budget-Priced Convertible Carseats under $100

Parents are in a great position today if they need a convertible carseat priced under $100. These seats don’t have all the bells and whistles that the fanciers carseats do, but they get the job done of keeping children secure in crashes and have the added advantage of being lightweight, which make them great as travel seats. We compiled this comparison of budget-friendly convertibles currently available to help you find what meets your needs.


Cosco Apt 40 RF

Review: http://carseatblog.com/17513/cosco-apt-review-does-it-compete-with-the-scenera

Cosco Apt 40 RF

Who it’s designed for: infants and toddlers
Who it fits: infants and small toddlers
Rear-facing weight limits: 5-40 lbs.
Rear-facing height limits: 19-40” or top of head even with top of seat shell
Forward-facing weight limits: 22-40 lbs.
Price: $54.99


  • Very lightweight
  • Fits infants very well
  • Dual rear-facing recline levels
  • Installs easily with both seat belt and lower LATCH connectors
  • Made in the USA


  • Short
  • Must adjust harness lap belts for use on lowest harness slots
  • Very wide at cup holders
  • Very low top harness slots

Basics and Measurements

  • 5 harness slots
  • 8 year expiration
  • FAA-approved
  • Harness slots: 5.5”, 7.5”, 9.5”, 11.5”, 13.5”
  • Buckle slots: 3”, 4.5”, 6”
  • Internal seat height: 23”
  • Seat pan depth: 12”
  • External widest width: 21” at cup holders, 18 ¾” at shoulders
  • Weight: 8.0 lbs.
  • LATCH anchor weight limits: can use LATCH to maximum 40 lbs. weight limit


When I first received the Apt in its box, I thought for sure the box was empty because it was so light. It was right when I first injured my shoulder and couldn’t lift anything—but I could lift this box! The Apt was designed on the Cosco Scenera platform: lightweight and easy to use with some extra features. In designing the Apt, the engineers wanted to make it as easy to use as possible, so they removed the “kick stand” that the Scenera has for changing the seat between rear-facing and forward-facing modes. They also added some cup holders because we Americans like to stuff things in cup holders and we pass that trait on to our wee ones. The only problem is with how they added the cup holders: they’re integrated into the shell on both sides of the seat so that it makes the seat very wide. The top harness slots are also extremely low on the Apt, so once a child hits the rear-facing weight or height limit on it, it’s likely not going to be able to be used as a forward-facing carseat. If you’re into super cute carseats, the Safety 1st arm of Dorel has a Mickey and Minnie Mouse version of the Apt. In the 1st quarter of 2015, Dorel has plans to release an updated version of the Apt. The Cosco Apt 50 will be rated to up to 50 lbs. in the forward-facing position and includes 6 sets of harness slots with the top set being around 16″ and a price point of $65.

Cosco Apt front Cosco Apt back Cosco Apt without cover Cosco Apt side Cosco Apt Romeo Cosco Apt RF Cosco Apt FF

Cosco Scenera

Review: http://carseatblog.com/2813/dorel-cosco-scenera-review-a-true-workhorse

Cosco Scenera

Who it’s designed for: infants and toddlers
Who it fits: infants and toddlers
Rear-facing weight limits: 5-35 lbs.
Rear-facing height limits: 19-36” or top of head even with top of seat shell
Forward-facing weight limits: 22-40 lbs.
Price: $39.00


  • Very lightweight
  • Fits infants well
  • Installs easily with lower LATCH connectors
  • Narrow
  • Made in the USA


  • Short
  • Single length harness strap
  • Sparse padding

Basics and Measurements

  • 8 year expiration
  • FAA-approved
  • Harness slots: 7″, 10″, 12.5″ 15″
  • Buckle slots: 4″, 5.5″, 6.5″
  • Internal seat height: 23″
  • Seat pan depth: 11.5″
  • External widest width: 17.5″
  • Weight: 7.4 lbs.
  • LATCH anchor weight limits: can use LATCH to maximum 40 lbs. weight limit


The Cosco Scenera is a small seat. Back in the day, it was like any other typical 40 lbs. harnessed carseat, but in today’s world of 65+ lbs. harnessed carseats, it’s petite. That makes it a great travel seat, but it also makes it outgrown quickly—typically around age 3, well before a child is ready to move to a belt-positioning booster seat. So keep in mind that while this is a very fantastic carseat for the price—$39—you will need another harnessed carseat for your forward-facing child. Dorel (Cosco’s parent company) is introducing a brand-new version of the Scenera in 1st Quarter 2015, called the Scenera NEXT, which will rear-face to 40 lbs. or 40″, have 5 sets of harness slots, and still be under $50. You can read more about, and see pics of the Scenera NEXT, at our KIM Conference Update blog post. The Scenera NEXT will also have Cosco’s first set of labels requiring rear-facing to age 2.

Look-a-like seats: Safety 1st onSide Air (same shell as Scenera but has AirProtect technology and a full-wrap cover)

Cosco Scenera front Cosco Scenera back Cosco Scenera without cover Cosco Scenera side Cosco Scenera Romeo Cosco Scenera RF Cosco Scenera FF


Cosco Scenera NEXT (coming soon)

Scenera NEXT

Autumn is here and the leaves are….swaying? A review of the Nuna LEAF.

Nuna LEAF Baby Seat Review

Ah, Nuna. The name brings excitement to the brains of many (Pipa? droooool) or confusion to others (what the heck is a Nuna?). But not to worry. Whatever side of the fence you are currently on, you will emerge from this post happy. Because ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, the Nuna LEAF Baby Seat:


Now in all honesty I really can’t write much on it because there isn’t much to it. But that’s the beauty of it! It’s simplistic and basic and instead of being a jack of all trades like many of the swings/bouncers/gliders/washes your dishes contraptions out there, it’s truly the master of one: gently swaying your kid.

There are two versions, the original (pictured in this review) and the new LEAF Curv model. The only differences are the design of the base.

Nuna LEAF-curv

The original LEAF is available in several colors but the LEAF Curv (pictured above) is currently only available in “Cinder”.


The Nuna Leaf is shaped like a bouncer (and adorably like a leaf) and mounted on a wide base frame. It uses a kinetic mechanism combined with the weight of your baby to keep the seat swaying side to side (like a falling leaf…get it? You’re so clever, Nuna) for quite a while without using batteries or electricity. The base also has a lever on it that can be locked to keep the seat stationary.

The lever on the side can be pushed down to lock the seat in a stationary position.

The lever on the side can be pushed down to lock the seat in a stationary position.

The cover is organic cotton and is a a nicely ventilated mesh on the seat area and the insert is also organic cotton and is generously padded. Both are machine washable. The entire thing weighs about 10.5 lbs.


The harness is fastened with strong Velcro–strong enough to contain my stubborn 12 month old but fairly noisy for a sleeping baby.


Plenty of space for 18 lb, 27 in Declan


He approves of the swaying action.

An interesting thing about the Leaf is the weight limit of 130 lbs. Not only is it a peaceful and cozy place for infants, it’s a nice hang out spot for older kids as well. My 12 month old is only interested in hanging out in it when he is tired or focusing on something but my 4 year old uses it constantly! He watches TV in it, plays games in it, uses the iPad in it…he just loves it.

Don't confuse the mistake the 4 year old attitude face…this seat makes a great preschool chill spot.

Don’t mistake the 4 year old attitude face…this seat makes a great preschool chill spot.

The Nuna Leaf is a good birth to young child age seat that doesn’t take up much room and is very minimalistic in a classy, modern way. Here’s a quick break down:


  • No batteries! It runs simply with kinetic energy and your child’s weight
  • Soft, washable, organic cotton cover and seat pad that come in a variety of colors including Navy, Bisque, Twilight, Grape, and Dawn
  • Locking mechanism if your baby does not want to sway
  • Grows with your child and can accommodate up to 130 lbs
  • Optional accessory toy bar


  • It is a pricey piece of baby gear retailing around $220, with the optional toy bar accessory retailing around $35
  • The safety harness is a very strong Velcro, which is pretty noisy and could easily wake a baby should you need to remove them while sleeping

Big enough for two!

No monetary compensation was provided from Nuna for this review, and the opinions stated are entirely my own. The Nuna Leaf retails for $219.95 and is available for purchase through Amazon.com. Thank you to Nuna for providing the LEAF for review.  No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.

Ultra Safe and Affordable Too? 2015 Subaru Legacy Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R LimitedSubaru has really hit the target for the 2015 Legacy sedan.  When shopping for a midsize family vehicle, what do moms and dads need?  Subaru checks all the boxes.  At a bargain price around $25K, the AWD 2.5i Premium version with optional Eyesight package is among the safest sedans on the market, both in terms of avoiding a crash and in crashworthiness as well.  It’s bigger and wider than before, meaning more space for drivers, kids in back and cargo.  Fuel economy has improved as well, up to 26 mpg city and 36 highway for the 2.5L engine. Safety, value, space and fuel economy, a pretty solid combination!  Subaru checks some “wants”, too. Interior and exterior styling have been improved considerably, as have the controls, touchscreen and electronics.   While it’s not going to get looks like a Tesla sedan, it’s definitely sharper than the current Accord and Camry; on par with Fusion and Sonata for appearance.   Standard AWD is great for rain and snow.  Performance can be had in the 3.6R Limited trim that has decent power.


As for  Eyesight, it’s arguably the best frontal crash prevention system on the market.  It earned a “Superior” rating from the IIHS and avoided a crash altogether on both the low-speed and high-speed autobrake tests.  A very impressive feat matched only by other Subaru models with EyeSight and a couple luxury models that cost nearly twice as much or more.   Eyesight now includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning.  For the 2015 Legacy, it is also bundled with Blind Spot detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert as well.  The updated system on the new Legacy gets smaller, color cameras with a 40% increased detection range and wider angle of view.  It now operates up to a 30mph differential from the vehicle in front, up from 19mph in the previous system, and adds brake light recognition as well.

That all sounds impressive enough.  But we’ve seen many other manufacturers force you to the most expensive trim level and then add a pricey options package to get an inferior system, adding $10,000 or more to the cost.  So what does Subaru charge to get this top performing safety system?  $1,195.  Yup.  That’s it.  But wait, you have to get a loaded 3.6R Limited edition to add that package, right?  Nope.  The 2.5i Limited and even the affordable 2.5i Premium trims can add Eyesight as a single option!  Now that IS impressive.  Other auto makers should really wake up and start being competitive with their safety features, especially on vehicles marketed to families.  Kudos to Subaru for making this technology available to more families to protect their precious cargo.

2015 Subaru Legacy airbagNow standard on all 2015 Legacy trim levels are great safety-related features like a backup camera, bluetooth hands-free cellphone connection and a new rollover sensor to deploy the side curtain airbags.  A new driver seat-cushion mounted airbag helps keep the occupant in position to reduce the risk of abdominal seatbelt injuries and leg injuries.  Active Torque Vectoring is now standard on the Legacy and helps control that power in curves, too.  Eyesight equipped models also get steering responsive foglights to enhance illumination in turns.  Like all Subarus, AWD is standard.

Last, but not least, the ’15 Legacy aced the IIHS crash testing, earning a Top Safety Pick for all trim levels.  Models with optional Eyesight earn a Top Safety Pick+ award.  The Legacy not only earned the top overall rating, but also earned the top “Good” result in each and every test and sub-category measure.  Impressive.  In the equally important NHTSA government safety ratings, the Legacy and Outback also earned 5-stars in all five crash test evaluations and a 5-star rollover rating (4-stars for Outback), resulting in a 5-star overall rating.  Only one or two other vehicles achieved the top rating in every single evaluation from both agencies, and you have to spend over $46,000 on a 2015 Hyundai Genesis with the Tech Package to match these essentially perfect crash avoidance and crash protection ratings.  Impressive Indeed!

The Back Seat:

Have two or three kids?  No problem.  The back seat is now a bit wider and with careful selection, will fit adjacent or three-across carseats a little easier than before.  The configuration is similar to the 2015 Subaru Outback as well.  The main possible concern is that the seat cushions and seat backs are contoured.  This is typical of 2015SubaruLegacybucklesmany midsize sedans that have shifted away from flatter bench seating that made installing carseats easier.  While more comfortable for adults, these contours may cause some issues with certain carseats, especially taller and wider front-facing models.  Overall, nothing particularly problematic for a midsize sedan, though the LATCH anchors are more recessed than average.  The fused driver-side and center buckle stalks could present difficulties in certain situations with adjacent carseats/passengers in those positions.  The rear seat does offer a split folding feature and the trunk is a very reasonable 15 cubic feet.


The Drive:

The 3.6R Limited is a pretty nice package.  My tester came equipped with Moonroof/Navigation package for a total MSRP of $33,380 including $795 destination charge.  Fuel economy is 20 city, 29  highway on regular gas.  I achieved a hair under 20 mpg in suburban driving.  What about performance?

Poppy Drops Review: Pain-Free Alternative to Pierced Ears

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.25.34 PMAt the 2013 ABC Expo, I read about a simple but ingenious product: temporary tattoo earrings. What a brilliant solution for little girls (or big ones) who want to wear earrings but don’t have pierced ears!

So at this year’s show, I stopped by the booth of Poppy Drops, one of the makers of these earrings. They gave me a sample, and my 5-year-old daughter was thrilled to try them out.IMG_0989

The earrings go on just like any other temporary tattoo: Cut out the image you want, peel off the protective plastic cover, apply to the skin, and press a wet cloth on it for about 15 seconds. Peel off the backing and voila! Cute little earrings!

My daughter absolutely loved them, and I did, too. As someone who hasn’t actually put in earrings in years, I kind of wanted some Poppy Drops for myself.

Even though the instructions say you don’t need to be very accurate when you cut out the designs, I recommend cutting as close as possible to the image to make sure it winds up where you want it on a tiny ear. My first attempt wound up a little higher than I would have liked. On a similar note, my only complaint about the product is that the halves of each pair are printed VERY close to each other, meaning you need to be extremely careful when cutting the two apart, lest you accidentally slice off part of one.Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.17.02 PM

But the good news (for mom) is that Poppy Drops are made with non-toxic food-grade vegetable dyes and are made in the USA.

The good news (for kids) is that the tattoos look like real earrings! My daughter’s gymnastics coach thought she had gotten her ears pierced until she went in close for a look. On FaceTime one day, my dad asked her the same thing.IMG_0990

They lasted a long time, too. The package says that average wear is 4-7 days, but we got more than 7 days out of the ones we tried. Toward the end a couple of them started clumping up and falling off, but that was at least 8 days into it. The tattoos are easily removed with rubbing alcohol or baby oil.

There are more than 20 earring sets available, plus other Poppy Drop tattoo items include nail art and bracelets. They also have a line of natural lip gloss and no-mess, no-spill perfume sticks designed especially for little kids. You can buy Poppy Drops products at participating retailers, through the Poppy Drops website, or on Amazon.

The Poppy Drops were a huge hit in this house, and I’m definitely going to order some more earrings (and probably a perfume stick) as stocking stuffers this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if some find their way into my stocking, too…

Thank you to Poppy Drops for providing a sample. All opinions expressed here are my own.