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Mythbusting: Infant seats are bubbles of protection


Next time you’re standing on that wiggly kitchen stool, changing yet another lightbulb…don’t forget what Sir Isaac taught us. So what do you think—does gravity find babies attractive, too? CONFIRMED? PLAUSIBLE? BUSTED? Ten pounds of feathers, ten pounds of bricks, or ten pounds of baby—gravity doesn’t discriminate.

Earlier this year, Home Depot employee Chris Strickland was launched to notoriety when his quick actions saved an infant from a three-foot tumble off of the top of a shopping cart. Unfortunately, not all babies have a guardian angel like Mr. Strickland looking out for them. The Internet is full of stories from parents and on-lookers about children falling from carts. In 2011, a three month old infant died after falling from a shopping cart. While we know that carseats save lives, it’s easy to understand why parents believe that their children are also protected while “clicked” in their infant seats into place on the top of a shopping cart. And while videos of people pouring ice water over their heads to avoid donating to charity explode on the Internet, stories like Kristin Auger’s barely garner public attention.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 11.01.26 PMWhen we think about children being injured or killed in carseats, we typically think about car crashes. Researchers in British Columbia collected 5 years of child restraint-related injury data (N=95), published in this 2008 Pediatrics International article, that should have you re-evaluating this exclusive assumption. While this article was intended to address carseat misuse, it does so in the context of out-of-vehicle use. The authors concluded that “among all infants, falls were a common mechanism of injury resulting from CRS misuse” and urged for preventative efforts to help educate parents and caregivers on out-of-vehicle child restraint injuries. In this study, 6% of subjects had been injured in falls from shopping carts…all of which were completely preventable.

I took a field trip to a local Target to snap a photo of the warnings parents see on each and every cart, warning them against placing carseats on carts…

Shopping Cart "Warning"

Shopping Cart “Warning”

….is it any wonder parents are still confused?







Watch the shocking Home Depot video where not only does the carseat tip from the cart, but the infant wasn’t buckled in the carseat:

Super Extended Rear-Facing Carseats: ERF to the MAX

The Best Extended RF Convertible and All-In-One Carseats with the Highest Rear-Facing Weight and Height Limits

Want to keep your child rear-facing until 2 years for safety?  Almost any current convertible carseat in the USA will allow that for most kids.  A decade ago, Extended Rear Facing meant keeping a baby rear-facing beyond 1 year AND 20 pounds.  Britax set the trend of ERF convertibles over 10 years ago with the original Britax Marathon and Wizard that allowed kids to remain rear-facing well beyond 2-years old.  Today, other models have set the bar even higher.

Here are some of the top contenders for Super-ERF carseats that have among the highest weight and/or height limits in the USA.  They can all accommodate even the tallest and heaviest kids rear-facing beyond 2 years old and many kids rear-facing until 3, 4 or even 5 years old.  These aren’t the only great ERF carseats; we update our complete list of rear-facing convertible carseat height and weight limits periodically.  In no particular order:

Britax Boulevard CT

Britax Boulevard ClickTight, currently under $300 at  Britax has a super-easy seatbelt install system on their latest convertible carseat.  Check out our review of the Boulevard CT.  While only a 40-pound weight limit rear-facing, the shell height is around 28.5″ tall and along with a 44″ standing height limit, that makes it effectively the tallest rear-facing model available at the time of this update in terms of seated torso height.  Early models included a tether for rear-facing use.  The Advocate CT has identical rear-facing limits.


Diono Rainier

Diono Rainier, currently around $300 at  Diono’s newest upscale all-in-one carseat.  Check out our review of the Diono Rainier.  Along with the Clek convertibles, it offers an industry-leading 50 pounds rear-facing limit for kids up to 44″ standing height.  The shell is only a hair over 25″ in torso height, however, and will be outgrown by tall kids before competitive models.  Includes a tether that can be used rear-facing to reduce rebound.  The Diono Pacifica has similar ratings. The Diono Olympia and slightly narrower Diono Radian RXT have a 45-pound rear-facing weight limit and similar rear-facing height limits as well.


Clek Foonf

The Clek Foonf, currently starting around $449 at  It matches Diono’s Rainier with a 50 pound rear-facing weight limit, but has a slightly narrower profile and an anti-rebound bar.  A taller 26.5″ shell and a slightly higher rear-facing seated height limit than the Diono models, but a slightly shorter 43″ standing height limit. Please see our full review of the Foonf.  The newer Clek Fllo has similar ratings and is less expensive.



Graco Size4Me

Graco Size4Me 65, around $150 at  A more typical 40-pound rear-facing weight limit, but is among the taller usable rear-facing seated height limits on the market with a 27.5″ shell.  Here is CarseatBlog’s full review of the Size4Me (Previously known as the Size4Me 70).  The Graco Headwise 65, Graco MySize65 and Graco Fit4Me 70 have similar ratings.  All are great values for Super Extended Rear-Facing.



Graco 4Ever

Graco 4Ever, around $300 at  A more typical 40-pound rear-facing weight limit, but is among the taller usable rear-facing seated height limits on the market with a 27.5″ shell.  An all-in-one seat, it also converts to a high-back and backless booster.  Here is CarseatBlog’s full review of the 4Ever.  The Graco Milestone (convertible + high back booster) and Graco Contender 65 (convertible only) have similar rear-facing ratings.  The Contender convertible is the budget pick for Super Extended Rear-Facing at around $120.



Safety 1st Advance EX 65 Air+

Safety 1st Advance EX 65 Air+, under $190 at BabiesRUs.  Another carseat with an industry-leading 50 pound weight limit rear-facing, plus a 28″ shell that offers a seated height limit similar to the Britax Boulevard ClickTight.  With a 49″ standing height limit, it will fit most kids well beyond 4 years old rear-facing.  On the downside, it is also one of the largest convertibles on the market and may not work well in smaller vehicles.




Honorable Mention:  With a 26.5″ shell, the Evenflo SureRide is a bit taller than average, but it definitely isn’t one the tallest seats on the market, and the 40 pound weight limit is average.  But at under $80 on sale, it’s an inexpensive way to keep your child rear-facing for at least a few years.  The Graco Contender 65 fits kids a little taller for $120 on sale making it our budget pick.

Updated November 21, 2015

Consumer Reports Updates Convertible Carseat Ratings – July 2014


Read about the 2015 Consumer Reports convertible ratings here!

CR rockThe updated ratings on convertible carseats are published and the results are going to make some people happy and others not so happy. There’s just no way around that. Parents who already own top-rated convertible seats are going to be happy while those that own seats at the bottom of the lists may be less-than-pleased. Some may even question whether they made a mistake buying “X” carseat instead of “Y” carseat.

Before we get to the CR top rated picks, let’s talk about what the “BEST” convertible carseat is. We say this all the time as Child Passenger Safety Technicians, but it’s the truth, hence why it’s repeated so often. The BEST carseat is the one that fits your vehicle (installs tightly), fits your child (is appropriate for their age/weight/height), and that you can use correctly on every single ride. And of course it needs to fit your wallet too. The best carseat is not necessarily the most expensive carseat you can (or can’t) afford. And it’s not necessarily the carseat that matches the rest of your nursery collection or the one that everyone raves about online.

While we think our Recommended Carseats list is a great place to start, the seats on our list aren’t going to work for everyone and every situation. Remember – what works best for *your* child in *your* vehicle might not be the best choice for your sister or your neighbor or your friend, and that’s important. For example, a loosely installed carseat or one where you can’t easily adjust the harness to be snug on your child is not safe. A convertible carseat that doesn’t fit rear-facing in your car is not going to be the best choice for your child either.

The Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison – Size Matters!

It’s important to point out that this round of ratings is based on crash test results using their previous testing methodology (30 mph, FMVSS 213 standard bench, testing with 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelt or LATCH and no blocker plate). Convertible seat testing with their new crash test methodology is underway, but those results will not be published until some time early next year. For more info on Consumer Reports’ new crash testing program please see our previous blog on the subject:

The Safest Infant Carseats? New Crash Protection Ratings and Methods from Consumer Reports

Currently CR evaluates carseats on several points, including fit-to-vehicle, ease-of-usage, price and crash test performance. We can’t comment on specific scores but after our meeting with CR last year, we do have a general idea of how their ratings are assigned within these categories.

They brake down the convertible carseat ratings into 3 categories:

  • Convertible seats rated to 40 lbs.
  • Convertible seats rated to weights higher than 40 lbs. (what we call “higher-weight harness” convertibles)
  • All-in-One seats that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing and also as a belt-positioning booster.

In the up to 40 lbs. category, the Cosco Scenera, Scenera 40RF, Cosco Apt 40RF and Safety 1st onSide Air were their top rated picks. I don’t think the Scenera 40 RF is still being made or sold anywhere but the “regular” Cosco Scenera, the Cosco Apt 40RF and the Safety 1st onSide Air are all widely available and they are all budget-friendly seats (under $100) too. Just don’t expect them to fit your child for as long as larger competitors. These are basic, budget-friendly seats for infants and toddlers that should last many kids until at least age 3 and some to age 4. They also make great travel seats.

Cosco SceneraCosco Apt 40 RFSafety 1st onSide Air - stock

In the over 40 lbs. category, the Chicco NextFit is the top rated convertible seat followed closely by the entire Britax convertible lineup – Britax Advocate G4, Britax Boulevard G4, Britax Pavilion G4, Britax Marathon G4 and Britax Roundabout G4. The Britax Roundabout G4 and the Evenflo SureRide were rated as “Best Buys” because they offer good value for their price but they also received good scores in all categories.

Chicco NextFit - blogBritax Advocate G4 - OnyxBritax roundabout G4 - onyx

In the “All-in-One” category – the Evenflo Symphony was the top rated seat among the 5 models tested.

Evenflo Sym65 - Ocala

You can find their newest ratings on convertible seats at their website, Unfortunately, you have to be a paid subscriber to see the full ratings report.

CarseatBlog’s Updated List of Recommended Carseats for Preemies & Multiples!

Huggable Images Preemie Doll in Cosco Light 'n ComfyWe’re happy to announce that we’ve updated our list of Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples! Since we last updated that list, we’ve reviewed (or are in the process of reviewing) several new or updated infant seats that we feel comfortable adding to the list. And even one convertible seat!

Please join me in welcoming the Cosco Light n’ Comfy Elite, Evenflo SecureRide 35 (aka Serenade), Graco SnugRide 35 LX Click Connect, Graco SnugRide 40 Click Connect, Nuna PIPA, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35UPPAbaby MESA and the Maxi-Cosi Pria Convertible (specifically, the model with the TinyFit insert).

All of these seats have a minimum weight rating of 4 lbs, fit our Huggable Images preemie doll well, are easy to use correctly and are relatively easy to install properly in a variety of vehicles.  While many parents may not think fitting a 4 lb. preemie is important, we know from experience that babies sometimes come earlier than expected and are well under the typical 7 pound newborn size.  We have links to the full reviews for each of these seats as well as other important information on our page dedicated to preemies and carseat issues.

Additionally, we’re very pleased that four of the seats now on the list are priced under $100! The Cosco Light n’ ComfyEvenflo Embrace LXSafety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus and Safety 1st onBoard 35 are all “budget-friendly” carseats.  And let’s face it – price and value are always important but those factors take on special meaning if you’re operating on a tight budget and/or if you’re faced with the reality of having to buy two, three (or more!) of everything.

Here at CarseatBlog we really appreciate the fact that CR manufacturers are paying more attention to the needs of preemies and low birthweight babies. With fourteen infant carseats and one convertible now on our list, in all different price ranges, this is a giant leap in the right direction. We have several other seats under review at the moment so hopefully we’ll be able to recommend a few more options in the near future!