News Archive

Still Made in North America


Kecia and I toured the great new Dorel technical center, adjacent to where they manufacture many Cosco, Safety 1st and other child restraint products in Columbus, Indiana.  Kudos now to Britax, who opted to keep their main manufacturing facility in Charlotte, moving just across the border from North Carolina to South Carolina.   They are currently moving into their shiny, new digs!  I have seen it from the outside and hope to blog about a tour of the facility in the future :-)

Other manufacturers, like Evenflo, still have major manufacturing plants in the USA as well.  We know some parents prefer products made in North America, Western Europe and certain other countries for a variety of reasons.  Keeping good manufacturing and technical jobs domestic to support local economies is a major one.  Concerns over workers’ conditions, environmental issues and product quality control are other very legitimate concerns about losing manufacturing to Asia and other regions with ultra-cheap labor and minimal government oversight.  Managers of some programs receiving funds from certain federal and state grants may be required to purchase products primarily made in the USA.  For that reason, we are also compiling a list of carseats still made in the USA, including some made in Canada, Mexico and Europe.

CarseatBlog does recommend carseats that are manufactured outside North America.  Location of the corporate headquarters or manufacturing is not usually a factor as to whether we recommend or do not recommend any particular child restraint.  Even though where a product is made does not typically affect our opinion of a carseat, we do try to mention it in our reviews.  That is so those interested in buying the product may have this information, in case it is a factor in their own purchasing decision!

Weight Limits: The Death of LATCH?


LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren.  It’s the next generation of child safety.

It’s a pair of metal anchors located in the seat bight, plus a top tether anchor located somewhere behind the vehicle seat.  Combined, these anchors were to make installation of carseats much easier than using seatbelts.  With me so far?

Problem is, at least in the USA, we made a lot of concessions to automobile and child restraint manufacturers when the system was implemented.  For example, the anchors are often hard to find or access.  Also, rigid LATCH isn’t required, as it is with ISOFIX in Europe.  Center and third row seating positions may not have anchors at all.  High weight limit seats are not considered.  This last issue has become a big problem, due to the rapid proliferation in carseats with 5-point harnesses now rated above 40 pounds in the USA and *Canada.

The rules, many of which are unwritten for the typical parent, are so absolutely crazy that certified child passenger safety technicians need a 200-page reference manual to help understand it.  The average parent or caregiver? They don’t even know about the rules or manual in the first place!  Thus, misuse happens.  It’s no wonder that parents who do know about it are so confused, they simply choose not to deal with it.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:  In 2014, new federal standards, subject to petitions of the final rule, will require carseats to have another label.  This label will limit the use of lower anchors to a maximum weight for a child.  This child’s weight limit printed on each carseat, plus the weight of the carseat, must be 65 pounds combined, or less.  Thus, for any child seat that weighs over 25 pounds, it cannot be used with the lower anchors once the child is above 40 pounds (or less).  Clear as mud?

Adding to the confusion, these new federal requirements do not directly affect top tether anchors, the other component of LATCH.  Nonetheless, many automobile manufacturers are still currently limiting top tether anchor use to the same combined 65-pound [child plus carseat] weight, even when a seatbelt is used for installation.  A few still limit use to a 40- or 48-pound child weight.  That means that if you own any of these automobile makes (and you may need that 200-page manual to know which ones!), you should no longer use the top tether above this limit.  Still following me?

Of course, it is the tall and heavy kids that need top tethers the most in order to reduce head excursion, the source of severe head injury risk!  So, this is a major conflict in what we know about crash dynamics and something that could put older kids at risk.  All this leads to the following questions:

Britax Boulevard 70-G3, Pavilion 70-G3 and Advocate 70-G3 Convertible Carseat Recall


Britax is announcing a recall of certain convertible carseats due to a possible choking hazard.  This is not a crash safety issue and does not necessarily require immediate attention unless you have noted an issue with your child chewing on the HUGS chest pads.  This issue affects Boulevard 70-G3, Pavilion 70-G3 and Advocate 70-G3 models made between June 1st, 2012 and August 31st, 2012.

The new design of HUGS pads on some G3 convertible carseats may separate if a child chews on it repeatedly, possibly leading to a choking hazard.  This does not affect previous designs of Britax convertibles.  Parents may continue to use their Britax convertibles with the HUGS pads until replacements are installed, provided that no chewing issue is noted with the HUGS pads.

If chewing or biting on the HUGS rubber pads has been noted, the parent may remove the HUGS pads until replacements arrive.  The owner’s manual advises that the HUGS pads are optional rear-facing, but required forward-facing for improved crash safety.  Britax states that they have tested the G3 models without HUGS pads and they still exceed the necessary standards for forward-facing children, so parents may remove them temporarily, but only until replacements can be installed.  Replacements should begin to ship to registered product owners within a week.

No known injuries have been reported.  Please see attached pdf documents for a complete list of affected model numbers and other information for USA and Canada.

P547900-USA Consumer 577 Notice

P548000-CAN Consumer Notice

Owners may contact Britax Customer Service Department at 1-888-427-4829 if you have questions.

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)
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 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


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