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Why New Parents Get it Wrong

Most expectant parents spend countless hours making sure everything for the new baby is just right. They paint the nursery, pick coordinating crib sets, pour over catalogs and roam stores looking for the perfect coming-home outfit, type up their birth plan, and misuse swaddledebate names for weeks.

Yet as soon as these parents put their baby in the car for the first time, almost all of them make at least one critical mistake. Car seat advocates and experts have known this for a long time, but a new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics is highlighting it again: Almost all car seats are installed and/or used incorrectly.

After checking the usage of more than 250 families being discharged from a hospital in Oregon, researchers found that 93% of them made a serious error with their car seats. Nearly 70% left the harness too loose, and 43% didn’t install the seat tight enough. Thirty-six percent had a seat adjusted to an incorrect angle, and 34% positioned the chest clip too low. Other misuse included having the harness straps in the wrong position and using unapproved after-market products.

Why do doting new parents misuse seats like this? That’s a question safety advocates have asked for a long time. Usually it’s not because they don’t care; it’s because they don’t know.

Many parents fail to read the manual that comes with their car seat. I know manuals can be tedious and boring, but when it comes to a piece of safety equipment, it’s necessary. Just do it!

Another reason is that car seats are confusing. If they were easy, we wouldn’t need to have certified technicians to help people with their seats. Again, much of the confusion can be cleared up by reading the manual, but even that can’t solve everything. Car seats often need to be demonstrated, not just talked about on paper.

Finally, a lot of people just don’t understand crash dynamics. Most people have never been in a serious or even moderate crash. They don’t understand how strong crash forces can be, and what kind of effect they can have on a human being—especially a tiny one. It’s certainly not something I had thought about until I became involved in child passenger safety, and even now it’s sometimes hard to wrap my head around. Many parents just don’t understand the lifesaving role a car seat can provide, and how that safety can be compromised by not using them correctly.

How can new parents be better prepared? Here are some tips to help reduce the most common mistakes.

  • Read the manual! Really.pileomanuals
  • For rear-facing seats, the harness should be at or below the child’s shoulders—not above.
  • Tighten the harness so you can’t pinch any webbing between your fingers at the collarbone. On most seats, you’ll want to pull up excess slack from the hip area before tightening.
  • The chest clip should be level with the baby’s armpits. That puts the clip over the strongest part of the baby’s torso—not on the neck, and not on the tummy.
  • Install the seat with the seatbelt OR lower anchors, not both (unless your seat and vehicle both explicitly allow it, which is rare).
  • If you use lower anchors (LATCH) make sure the position in the car allows for it. Most vehicles don’t have dedicated LATCH anchors in the center seating position, and most don’t allow for borrowing outboard anchors for use in the middle (check your manuals).
  • Check to make sure your seat is installed tightly enough. Use your non-dominant hand to give a firm tug where the seatbelt or LATCH strap goes through. As long as the seat moves less than an inch, the installation is tight. It’s important to check for movement ONLY at the belt path. Checking at the top of the seat will make the installation seem looser than it is, and will probably wind up loosening up an otherwise good installation.
  • Check the side of your seat to make sure the angle is correct for a newborn. Some seats have a line that needs to be level to the ground, while others have indicators that include balls, bubbles, or colored disks that show how reclined the seat is. For newborns, the seat should be at or close to the maximum allowed recline.
  • If you’re using a rear-facing-only or infant seat, make sure the handle is in an allowed position in the car. Some seats require the handle to be up, some require it to be down, and some allow any position, so read the manual to find out what’s allowed on your seats.
  • Don’t use aftermarket accessories unless they’re specifically approved by the car seat manufacturer. Also, don’t attach hard or heavy toys to the handle of the seat while it’s in the car.
  • Don’t swaddle your baby or use heavy jackets or snowsuits in the car. Check our tips for winter weather to learn more.
  • Make an appointment with a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician before your child is born. A good technician will teach you to install and use your seat properly. A list of CPSTs can be found here, and car-seat.org also maintains a list of techs among its members.
  • Read the manual!

Aton 2 Declan

If you’re expecting, you’re probably doing everything you can to make sure your baby enters the world as safely as possible. Don’t skimp on safety once he or she is out of the womb.

Rear-Facing Space Comparison: Britax G4 Convertibles vs. New Britax ClickTight Convertibles

Today we wrapped up the 10th annual Kidz in Motion (KIM) Conference in beautiful, sunny, New Mexico. It was another great conference and a good time was had by all. While I was here I had the opportunity to do some comparison testing of the current G4 Britax convertible models and the brand new Britax ClickTight convertibles that now available for pre-order. I was particularly interested in seeing how the seats compared side-by-side when installed rear-facing.

The vehicle used for this comparison was a 2014 Dodge Charger. Both the driver seat and the front passenger seat were set in the same positions at the same recline angle in order to accurately compare how much room each seat took up while rear-facing. On one side we installed the Britax Boulevard G4, on the other side we installed the new Britax Boulevard ClickTight. Both seats were installed with seatbelt.

Britax Blvd G4 and Blvd CT

Since the new ClickTight convertible models have 7 recline positions that can be used to achieve an appropriate recline, I took several different measurements so you can have an idea of how these new seats will fit rear-facing in backseats as compared with the Britax G4 convertible models which have a reputation for fitting exceptionally well in tight spaces.

Installed at a recline angle appropriate for a newborn or young baby with the headrest in a low height setting- the Boulevard ClickTight model took up approximately 3/4 of an inch (.75″) more room than the G4 model did. That’s still better (space wise) than most other convertibles currently on the market.

KIM Conference 2014 Updates – Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible, Improved Cosco Apt 50 Convertible, Diono Cambria Booster, Ingenuity InTrust 35 Pro Infant Seat & New Chicco KidFit Booster

New Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible

  • Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., up to 40″ tall
  • Forward-facing 22-40 lbs., 29-43″ tall, AT LEAST 2 YEARS OLD
  • 5 sets of harness slots (5″, 7″, 9″, 11″, 13″)
  • Walmart exclusive
  • Price under $50
  • Available Jan 2015

Cosco Scenera NEXT Cosco Scenera NEXT

Cosco Scenera NEXT Cosco Scenera NEXT

 

Updated Apt 50 Convertible

  • Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., up to 40″ tall
  • Forward-facing 22-50 lbs., 29-43″ tall, AT LEAST 2 YEARS OLD
  • 5 sets of harness slots (5″, 7″, 9″, 11″, 13″, 16″)
  • Price $65
  • Available Jan 2015 at Target, Amazon, and other retailers

Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Apt 50 top harness slots

 

Improved onBoard 35 Infant Seat

  • Carrier is very similar
  • Redesigned base has 5 recline positions
  • New bases will be compatible with older onBoard carseats

New onBoard 35 base

 

Working on improving DreamRide Car Bed

  • Working on a LATCH installation for this product
  • Expected availability summer 2015
  • Will continue to be available through institutional channels

DreamRide Car Bed

 

New Diono Cambria Booster - on its way to retailers now and should start shipping to consumers in the next two weeks.

Diono Cambria Diono Cambria

 

Cambria Specs and Features:

  • Diono Cambria40-120 lbs.
  • 38-63″
  • Flexible lower LATCH anchor attachments (hook style)
  • Dual cup holders
  • Can be used as highback or backless
  • Requires head support from vehicle in either mode

Cambria Measurements:

  • 21″ to belt guide opening on highest height setting
  • 14″ deep (leg/thigh support)
  • 12″ wide at narrowest point near armest
  • 17″ wide in back

 

New Ingenuity InTrust 35 Pro Rear-Facing Only Carseat

  • 4-35 lbs., up to 32″ tall
  • SmartAdjust Headrest system adjusts harness height and harness tension simultaneously
  • AirInfuse helps air flow through mesh and ventilated panels
  • Push-on lower LATCH anchor connectors
  • 3 position base
  • Bubble level indicators on both sides of base
  • Handle can be in any locked position in vehicle
  • Available Oct 2014 at BRU (not BRU exclusive – will be available at other retailers by end of year)

Ingenuity Infant Seat Ingenuity Infant Seat base Ingenuity base

 

Chicco KidFit BoosterNew Chicco KidFit Booster

  • 30-100 lbs. with backrest
  • 40-110 lbs. without backrest
  • 38-57″
  • Flexible lower LATCH anchor connectors
  • Collapsible cup holders
  • Expected release date Jan 2015
  • MSRP – to be determined (no info available yet)

Recaro ProSport Recall: What to Do for Owners

Recaro ProSportToday NHTSA issued a recall of the Recaro Prosport, following a non-compliance notice issued in April. We have more details about the performance related non-compliance issue in our earlier blog.  The details of the recall notice from NHTSA can be found here.  Affected are all 39,181 Recaro ProSport model #385 child restraints, manufactured from June 16, 2010, through January 31, 2013.  Recaro will notify registered owners and will provide, at no cost, a label to affix over the existing information label and a complete set of new instructions informing owners to discontinue use of the LATCH system when the weight of the child reaches 40 pounds. The campaign is expected to begin during August 2014. Owners may contact Recaro at 1-888-973-2276.

ProSport II and Performance Sport models are NOT affected, as we are told these newer models were introduced after a design change effective from February 1, 2013. The updated Performance Sport model continues to be one of our Recommended Carseats.

If you are a current ProSPORT owner, we suggest taking the following steps to ensure that your child is well protected in a crash until you receive an official recall notification/remedy from Recaro:

  • DO NOT use the lower LATCH anchors for installation above 40 pounds
  • DO read the instruction manual and labels that came with your ProSport (or any updated replacements sent by Recaro) and make sure you are installing it correctly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • DO tether the seat at all times, Recaro now recommends that you ALWAYS use the top tether when using the ProSPORT with a 5-point harness*
  • DO install the seat with a lap/shoulder seatbelt if your child weighs more than 40 lbs.
  • DO register your seat with Recaro or update your registration information if you have moved since you first bought the seat.

* Previously Recaro USA limited top tether use to 52 pounds.  I have confirmed that, “There is an official change that allows tether use up to the maximum weight limits of the RECARO combination seat models unless there is a top tether load limit stated in the vehicle manual from the vehicle manufacturer. RECARO also recommends always using the top tether with a forward-facing seat using an internal harness, and this would be retroactive.”  Please contact Recaro USA for additional guidance on this issue.

Recaro USA makes the following statement:

Dear Valued RECARO ProSPORT Owner,

This notice is in accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. RECARO Child Safety, LLC has determined that the RECARO ProSPORT child restraints manufactured from June 16th, 2010 to January 31st, 2013 fail to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 571.213 Child Restraint Systems. Our records indicate that you have either submitted registration for, or contacted our customer service team, regarding a ProSPORT manufactured in this period.

The ProSPORT failed to meet required head excursion limits set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when tested with a 52 pound, 6-year old dummy and installed with a LATCH belt only, no top tether. Not using the top tether could result in an increased risk of head impact in the event of a crash and also contradicts the ProSPORT instruction manual that came with your child restraint.

In this repair kit, you will find a label, instructions on how to affix the label, and a new instruction manual to repair your child restraint. The label and instruction manual advise you not only to ALWAYS use the top tether when using the ProSPORT with a 5-point harness, but also to discontinue using the lower anchors/LATCH strap when your child reaches 40 pounds. The combined weight of your child and the ProSPORT should not exceed 65 pounds when using lower anchors, as newly required by NHTSA in the FMVSS 213 standard for seats manufactured after February 27th, 2014. Discontinuing the use of LATCH when your child reaches 40 pounds updates your older ProSPORT to the new 2014 FMVSS 213 standard, and eliminates the risk posed by installation with LATCH belt only, no tether

If you have any questions regarding the recall or this repair kit, please email info-usa@recaro-cs.com or call our customer service team at 1-888-9RECARO.

If you would like to submit a complaint to the Administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you can reach them by mail at 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590, by phone at1-888-327-4236, or via the web at http://www.safercar.gov.

Sincerely,
RECARO Child Safety, LLC