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Booster Fit Is Better Than Ever! 2012 IIHS Booster Ratings

Boosters are better than ever at fitting the “gap” kids: those kids ages 4-8 who should be in belt-positioning boosters, but are often taken out of harnessed seats when they outgrow them. Those of us who are in child passenger safety know that children really don’t size out of boosters until ages 10-11, ages that typically shock most parents. That means that children are in belt-positioning booster seats longer than any other type of child restraint.

What are the current restraint recommendations? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
  • All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their CSS, should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap-and-shoulder seatbelts for optimal protection.
  • All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) began testing boosters for fit in 2008 and only 10 boosters rated a “Best Bet.” This year, 15 of 17 belt-positioning booster seats introduced in 2012 earned a “Best Best” rating and overall, there are a total of 47 “Best Bet” boosters. That’s fantastic and means more choices for consumers than ever before. But ultimately, what does that mean for you as a consumer of a safety product? After all, you want the safest product for your most precious cargo.

The IIHS uses a 6 year old dummy to test belt fit in the boosters. Boosters aren’t crash tested in these tests; they’re reviewed only for fit on the 6 year old dummy. How do you know if your booster fits *your* child well? After all, a dummy is stiff and doesn’t move all over the place like a real life child does. The shoulder belt should fall across the middle of the shoulder, slightly closer to the neck than the edge of the shoulder. The lap belt should ride low on the lap, touching the tops of the thighs.

  This picture shows good shoulder belt fit.

  This picture shows good lap belt fit. It’s low, touching the thighs.

  This picture shows poor lap belt fit. It’s resting up on the belly.

Really, while the IIHS ratings are a great help to parents as a starting off point for finding boosters that are most likely to fit in the widest variety of vehicles, only *you* are the best judge of what may work in *your* situation. Certain extreme seat belt geometries, such as when the shoulder belt comes out from behind the child’s shoulder or in front of the child’s body, may mean that a “Good Fit” booster on the IIHS list is a “Best Bet” booster for you.

Shall we get on with the list? Yes! We’ve indicated with a * which “Best Bet” boosters are on our own Recommended Carseats list and as much as we’d love to add all the seats to our recommended list, we simply can’t. Bolded items on the list are new for 2012.

Best Bet

*Britax Frontier 85
*Britax Frontier 85 SICT
*Britax Parkway SGL (highback mode)
*BubbleBum
Chicco KeyFit Strada (highback mode)
*Clek Oobr (highback mode)
Cosco Pronto (highback mode)
Diono Monterey (highback mode)
Diono Radian R100
Diono Radian R120
*Diono Radian RXT
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (highback mode)
*Evenflo Big Kid Amp
Evenflo Big Kid Amp High Back (backless mode)
Evenflo Big Kid Sport (backless mode)
*Evenflo Maestro
*Evenflo Secure Kid LX/DLX
*Evenflo Symphony 65 e3
Ferrari Dreamway SP (highback mode)
*Graco Argos 70 (highback mode)
Graco Backless TurboBooster
*Graco Nautilus (highback mode)
*Graco TurboBooster (backless mode)
*Graco TurboBooster (highback mode)
Graco TurboBooster COLORZ
Graco TurboBooster Elite (backless mode)
Graco TurboBooster Elite (highback mode)
*Graco TurboBooster Safety Surround (backless mode)
*Graco TurboBooster Safety Surround (highback mode)
Harmony Carpooler
Harmony Cruz Youth Booster
Harmony Dreamtime Booster (backless mode)
Harmony Dreamtime Booster (highback mode)
*Harmony Olympian
Harmony V6 Highback Booster (backless mode)
Harmony V6 Highback Booster (highback mode)
*Harmony Youth Booster Seat
*Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro
Kiddy World Plus
Kids Embrace Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (highback mode)
Recaro ProBOOSTER
*Recaro ProSPORT
*Recaro Vivo
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (highback mode)
Safety 1st S1 Rumi Air/Essential Air
The First Years Pathway B570

Good Bets

Britax Parkway SG (highback mode)
Combi Kobuk Air-Thru (backless mode)
Combi Kobuk Air-Thru(highback mode)
Evenflo Symphony 65
Maxi-Cosi Rodi (highback mode)

Check Fit

Britax Parkway SG (backless mode)
Britax Parkway SGL (backless mode)
Chicco KeyFit Strada (backless mode)
Clek Olli
Clek Oobr (backless mode)
Clek Ozzi
Cosco Ambassador
Cosco Highback Booster
Cosco Pronto (backless mode)
Cosco Top Side
Diono/Sunshine Kids Monterey (backless mode)
Diono/Sunshine Kids Santa Fe
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (backless mode)
Evenflo Big Kid Amp (highback mode)
Evenflo Big Kid LX (backless mode)
Evenflo Big Kid LX (highback mode)
Evenflo Big Kid No Back Booster
Evenflo Big Kid Sport (highback mode)
Ferrari Dreamway SP (backless mode)
Ferrari Ola
Graco Argos 70 (backless mode)
Graco Nautilus  (backless mode)
Graco Nautilus Elite (backless mode)
Graco Nautilus Elite (highback mode)
Graco Smart Seat
Maxi-Cosi Rodi (backless mode)
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (backless mode)
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (backless mode)
Safety 1st Go Hybrid
Safety 1st Summit
Safety 1st Vantage
Safety 1st Ventura
The First Years Compass B505
The First Years Compass B530
The First Years Compass B540
Volvo Booster (backless mode)
Volvo Booster (highback mode)

Not Recommended

Safety 1st All-in-One
Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite

space

The 2012 update is in the most recent IIHS Status Report. You’ll want to stay close to CarseatBlog.com because you know that good things happen for our readers when good news is released ;).

8 isn’t Enough

A few days ago, my son Elias reached an important milestone: He turned 8.

In half of the states in America, kids turning 8 celebrate finally “freeing” themselves of the “constraint” of a booster seat. Yet as safety advocates and an increasing number of parents (and kids!) know, age has little to do with being able to ride safely in an adult seatbelt.

My own son has had vehicle safety driven into his head since the time he was born, and he does take it pretty seriously. Lately, though, even he has been longing to ditch his booster. I told him that on his birthday, we would check the fit in the regular seatbelt, just to see.

He’s familiar with the 5-step test kids need to pass before they can safely move into an adult seatbelt alone:

  • Child sits all the way back in the seat
  • Child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat
  • The lap belt sits low on the hips, touching the thighs (not on the tummy)
  • The shoulder belt crosses the middle of the shoulder (not falling off, and not rubbing the neck)
  • Child can sit that way for the entire ride

In my state, it’s actually part of the law that the seatbelt needs to fit properly before graduating from a booster seat, although most people (including lots of police officers) don’t realize that.

Elias is a tall kid: 54″ (90th percentile for 8-year-olds), so I worried a bit that he actually would fit well. But a promise is a promise, so here he is sitting in his usual position in the third row of our 2010 Honda Odyssey.

The lap belt is high, and the shoulder belt is on his neck. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but his knees aren’t anywhere near the edge of the seat.

I’ll admit I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw how horrible the fit was without the booster seat. Then I cringed, thinking of how many kids ride like this anyway.

Please make sure that your children fit properly in a seatbelt regardless of age, weight, or height, and remember that the fit might vary based on the vehicle and seating position. Needless to say, Elias is back in his booster and will remain there for quite some time.

 

 

Workin’ at the Kid Wash (Yeah!)

My family is in limbo right now. A few months ago, we sold our house and moved into a rental for a year. In a few more months, we plan on moving…somewhere. But not here. Our temporary house is nice enough, but it’s not ours, and since we’re not here for long, there’s a lot of stuff we haven’t bothered unpacking, and we haven’t wanted to invest in things like closet organizers that we might not need in our next place. So we’re feeling very unsettled and a bit anxious.

That’s why we decided to do something fun this summer to try to nudge us out of our doldrums.

Several years ago I found the plans for a “Kid Wash” in Family Fun magazine. It’s a sprinkler reminiscent of a car wash, but made for kids to run through. My husband agreed that it looked neat and we planned on building it, but never did. So I decided this was finally the year.

We went to the dollar store and Home Depot for all of our Kid Wash needs. We already had the PVC glue (not required, but we did glue a few parts) and pipe cutters at home. The rest of the supplies cost about $50.

Then we all got to work. I measured and marked. Steve cut. My 8-year-old helped drill the holes, and my 3-year-old helped glue. We put the pieces together, connected the hose, and next thing you knew, we had the hottest, coolest front yard in the neighborhood.

Steve altered the plans a bit. We eliminated the “stop” and “go” signs (the kids would ignore them anyway), and instead of nylon lawn-chair webbing (ouch!), we used pool noodles. We also wound up changing out the bits that shoot straight up for angled ones that further spray the kids as they run through. (That was a later alteration, so this picture doesn’t show it.)

My daughter decided that she wanted a “happy smile face that shoots water out of its mouth,” so we gave her a plastic plate to draw the face. Then we attached that and drilled through the plate and the pipe.

The nice thing about this project is that you really can customize it to fit your desires. (I admit it feels a bit sacrilegious to use pool noodles for something other than car seats, though I suppose this is closer to their true intent.)

Have I mentioned it’s a lot of fun, even for the grownups? Not that I’d know. I haven’t run through it dozens of times myself. Swear.

You might be shaking your fist in the air and yelling, “Jennie! Why tell us about this now that summer is almost over?!”

Where I live June is often downright chilly, and we might not hit our peak temperatures until September. It can be sweltering well into October. So the timing is actually great for us. Even if you live somewhere with a “normal” temperature, though, you still have a few more weeks before it gets cold, right? And if not, you can start collecting supplies and planning now for next year. You have a head start!

As with anything, make sure you take proper safety precautions, like using protective eyewear when you run through. (Not really. My kids are wimps.)

Just stay cool, and have fun.

 

 

Our Favorite Car-Seat.org Links

CarseatBlog.com is the official blog of www.car-seat.org. Car-seat.org is a group of forums designed to help parents and caregivers find answers to carseat dilemmas. We have a Canadian/International forum, a technical forum, and a forum for vehicle selection to name a few. Many of our blog readers found us through CSO, as we lovingly call it. If you found the blog through Google, you probably don’t know of some of the many helpful threads found on our forums. Following is a list of our favorite threads.

 

Have you tried to find a technician local to you but been unsuccessful? Try this link for a partial listing of CSO techs.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=59135

 

I know we have environmentally conscious readers (hey, I’m green too!) who would rather recycle their carseats than throw them out with the garbage when they’re at the end of their useful life or have been in a crash. This thread lists recycling centers—maybe you’ll find a center close to you!

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=156221

 

Need to get 3 carseats across your back seat? Not sure if you can do it in your vehicle? Try searching this thread for help.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=33226

 

Do you have a special needs child? We have a forum for you!

http://www.car-seat.org/forumdisplay.php?f=36

 

Here’s a thread that shows booster comparisons for a thin child.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=213218

 

I know it’s getting warmer out now, but maybe I’ll plant a seed for next winter. Coats and carseats don’t mix and here’s a picture tutorial.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=151522 and a somewhat updated version, http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=200355

 

Hopefully this gives you a taste of what a goldmine CSO truly is. We have lots of techs and knowledgeable regulars who are willing and able to answer your child passenger safety questions.

Now for your role: do you have a favorite “upstairs” thread that you’ve found particularly helpful? Please post the link in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

A Glossary of Common Carseat Terms

How many times have you been looking at carseats and come across a word that you didn’t understand? In this specialized field, we have lots of terms that are important to you as a consumer and parent. Hopefully this list will make reading labels and manuals a bit easier! These terms apply to TYPICAL situations and are terms you’ll see mentioned often here on the blog; however, child passenger safety is a field of exceptions. Read your owners’ manuals for further clarification on your setup.