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To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn


Oliver RF/FFSometimes it’s hard for Child Passenger Safety Technicians to take their own advice—-or at least it is for me.

If a dad came to me and asked if it’s okay to put his mature, normal-sized 6-year-old in a booster, I’d say sure. If a mom came to me and asked if her tall 10-year-old, who passed the 5-step-test, was really all right without a booster, I’d say it’s fine. If another mom asked about forward-facing a 4-year-old, I’d congratulate her on doing an awesome job and I’d tell her that I would do the same thing if it were my own child.

And yet when I’ve reached these same milestones with my own children, the choice hasn’t always been easy. In fact, I’ve struggled with all these scenarios in the past year. This spring, I hesitated to let my 5-stepping, nearly-5-foot-tall oldest child ride without a booster (though I did give in). A month later when my extremely-compliant 6-year-old started begging to ride in a booster, it took me weeks before I finally allowed her to use one in our secondary car.

Yet my reluctance in making those decisions comes nowhere near the internal struggle I’m facing as I decide what to do with my youngest child, Oliver, who’s about to turn 4. He still rides rear-facing in both of our vehicles and has never asked to go forward-facing. I don’t think he even realizes it’s an option.

I didn’t hesitate when it was time to turn my two older children forward-facing, but it’s different with this one.

See, not only is Oliver my baby, he’s my last baby. As my kids have all gotten older, I’ve been able to cling to “still” having him as my tiny little one: My other two outgrew the ring sling, but I still had Oliver to carry. The other two outgrew the octopus costume, but Oliver could still wear it. The other two didn’t want to read Moo, Baa, La La La anymore, but Oliver still loved it. My other two got too big to rock to sleep, but Oliver still fit in my arms.

The other two could forward-face, but Oliver still…

Well, he still fits rear-facing and will for a while, and yes, rear-facing is safer. But my resistance to turn him around isn’t about safety, it’s about me. I have absolutely no qualms about a 4-year-old forward-facing; I just have qualms about this particular 4-year-old forward-facing, because I’m afraid of letting go. The reality is that turning him around will mark the end of an era for me. Once he rides forward-facing I’ll never again have a rear-facing child. I’ll have to admit my baby is growing up, and I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.

Bumble Baby Booster: A Great Solution or a Dangerous One?


A few days ago we became aware of a new booster seat called the Bumble Baby by a company called SilverFlye. I’ll admit I was intrigued. It looks a lot like one of our Recommended Carseats, the BubbleBum, only wider. In fact, SilverFlye touts the Bumble Baby as an “ULTRA WIDE PORTABLE BOOSTER SEAT,” measuring “17 inches wide,” making it “the widest AND ONLY portable car booster seat on the market that your child won’t slip or slide off during sudden stops or sharp turns!”

I’ll also admit I was skeptical. We’d never heard of this company before, and some of the claims made us wonder if this was a cheap, illegal solution like some other seats that periodically pop up on Amazon.

Clearly our only choice was to order one and do a quick Bumble Baby booster review.

There are a few positive aspects to this seat:

  • It came in a nice, compact package.
  • It has a belt guide.
  • It really is quite wide.
  • The box claims that it “[m]eets all US Federal Motor Vehicle safety standards.”

Unfortunately there were a lot of negatives, too.

For one, this seat does not appear to be compliant with FMVSS 213, the regulations companies need to follow when certifying car seats. It’s possible the seat has passed safety testing—I have no idea—but FMVSS 213 covers more than just testing.

FMVSS 213 requires things like labeling. That might sound like a bureaucratic technicality, but it’s not. Among other things, labels on the seat need to include contact information for the manufacturer so parents can call if they have questions or problems. Belt-positioning boosters like this one are required to include instructions that they must be used with a lap and shoulder belt. Belt-positioning boosters are also required to have a label stating that they’re certified for use in motor vehicles but not on airplanes.

The Bumble Baby is missing all these and more.

Seats are also required to have registration cards attached to them so parents can send in their information (or register online) to be notified of potential recalls. The Bumble Baby did not include a recall card or any other information on how to register the seat. (The box did include a website, but when I went to it there was just a message that the store “will be opening soon.”)

These requirements are all clearly spelled out in the text of FMVSS 213. Anyone at the company who read over the regulation to make sure the seat “met all safety standards” certainly would have seen the dozens of pages of text about everything they needed to do. I can’t help but wonder what other details they might have missed.

There are other areas of concern.

Bumble Baby manualFor one, the instruction “manual” consists of an oversized postcard with 10 sentences of instruction, mostly about how to inflate the seat. There is no information about when the seat expires or if it needs to be replaced after a crash or…anything else, really.  Once you’ve thrown away the box, there is no information on the postcard or on the product with any contact information for the company, nor is any company information listed on their Amazon store page.

Of even greater concern is how flimsy the seat feels. When the BubbleBum first came out, people were understandably disturbed by the idea of an inflatable seat. Inflatable things deflate and pop, qualities that don’t inspire confidence in a car seat. But once people got their hands on a BubbleBum, they soon realized that it wasn’t a glorified beach ball: It’s a heavy-duty item that practically inflates itself and is very hard to deflate. I can’t say the same for the Bumble Baby.

Inflated, the Bumble Baby felt very squishy, not firm like the BubbleBum.


Bumble Baby squishBubbleBum squish

Bumble Baby squish 2 BubbleBum squish 2

(In those BubbleBum photos, you can see one of the large compliance labels the Bumble Baby lacks.)

Here’s a video showing how easily the Bumble Baby deflates:

I also looked at belt fit. 

Guest Blog: Are you a CPS Zealot? Or an Advocate with Zeal?


StarfishOne day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

This short parable nicely sums up how I feel about child passenger safety education.  After having been an Emergency Medical Technician and 911 Dispatcher for many years, and witnessing the sad aftermath of improperly or unrestrained children, I decided to become a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).  Over the last 6 years since my certification, in my role as a full time civilian police department employee, as a tech offering private car seat checks, and an active volunteer with local CPS agencies, I’ve educated many, many parents in person, online and over the phone.

My goal has always been to appreciate each success, or “starfish”.  I know that I’ll never save every single one.   I’ve also learned I need to meet parents where they are and that success is subjective.  Making a child safER is a win in my book.  If I wasn’t able to convince a parent to switch their 18 month old back to rear-facing, but I was able to teach her to properly install the seat forward-facing, understand the importance of a top tether, snug up the harness to pass the pinch test, and when and how to move the harness straps up, then her child wins.  It may not be the safest choice, but it’s certainly a much safer one than a forward-facing but improperly installed and fitted seat.  And added to that is the knowledge that the parent knows I respect her choices, and that she will feel free to seek out future advice from me.  Every single one of those is a positive point.

This is how I educate and advocate for CPS on a daily basis. This is how most techs I know conduct themselves. Lately, though, with the advent of Facebook CPS groups, there’s been a shift.  Many CPS ‘advocates’ and newer, less seasoned CPSTs lacking real world experience, are educating in a ‘do or die’ way.  A CPST friend referred to this group as zealots, and this is a very accurate description.

Zealot PhotoThe CPS zealot believes that there are no exceptions.  The absolute maximum best practice must be followed at all times. If a driver can’t fit all of the children in rear seats, they must buy a new vehicle or stay home.  Caregivers must spend money they don’t have or can’t spare to buy longer-lasting seats if their child is under 4 and they’ve outgrown the rear-facing limit.   The parent of an 11-year old who can’t quite pass the 5-step test is forced to put them into a booster.  A zealot sees black and white, in a world where there are thousands of other shades of colors.  A zealot believes if they say it, you must do it.

Why is this a problem? Well, life is rarely ever black and white.  These zealots are fear-mongering, turning off parents to hearing what true CPS advocates like me and many of my respected colleagues have to share.  They push parents to get them to act in the way the zealot believes is the ONLY way. This is not advocacy.  It’s bullying.

Zeal PhotoI’d love to see the culture of zealots change.  From those who are fanatical and uncompromising, to advocates that approach instead with zeal. To be a positive role model. To be the person who parents want to come back to again and again with questions, because they feel unjudged and welcome.  To consider that if they are too reproachful with parents and caregivers, they might win a ‘battle’ perhaps, but the ultimate war will be lost.  Opportunities for education, and making children safer, will be closed to all of us with some parents. And that isn’t our goal.

I hope if you’re a zealot, you’ll read this and know that I understand where you’re coming from even if I abhor your approach.  I want to see all kids as safe as possible too.  I’m kept awake by the local news that another child was killed because she was unrestrained.  I become physically ill when I see a picture of a friend’s small child in an ill-fitting seat belt without a booster in my Facebook feed.  I’m frustrated when a parent HAS an appropriate seat that isn’t maxed out, but chooses not to continue to rear-face for reasons they can’t explain.  Some nights I do lie in my bed and cry because it seems like we are not getting anywhere. Beautiful babies are still dying.  I get it, truly I do.  But I know becoming a zealot won’t change those things.

Instead, I do my best to gain the trust and respect of all parents I come in contact with.  I accept that my job is to educate, and it’s a parents’ job to decide.  I give them the best option, and when that isn’t their choice, I give them every other possible option that leaves the child safER than they were when we started.  Little steps, sometimes.

One starfish at a time.  I know I won’t make a difference to all of them, but I know I surely helped ‘that one’.


Coleen Fitch is a stepmom and mom who developed her passion for keeping kids safe in the car during her many years in public safety.  She is a former EMT and 911 Dispatcher who,  for the past 9 years, has worked as a full-time civilian employee for local police in the Traffic Division.  She became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2009 and is the owner of Little Riders LLC, a child passenger safety education and installation service.  Coleen is a long-time contributor to the car-seat.org forums, and an active CPS advocate and volunteer in her community.  She lives in southern CT with her family and their dog Scooby. 

Cleaning Out Old CPS Stuff


My carseat throwback “stuff” only goes back around 15 years.  I know some people have accumulated carseat stuff for twice that long or more, including some genuine vintage carseats.  I freed up a lot of space recycling what seemed like 100 pounds of paper stuff alone.  Anyone else have some old goodies to share?  Feel free to add!



Oh and see that nice, orange Chicco roller bag in the background?  It needs to go as well, and there are a few interesting child passenger safety odds and ends inside of it.  This giveaway won’t be random, though, and I’ll give an advantage to Car-Seat.Org community members who are still reading;-)  It’s a simple question:  What are the names of the two kitties?  I call them both Foofy at this point, in homage not only to their great excess of fur, but also an old carseat forum joke about Britax carseats that Britax later turned into a fashion!

So, the first response with both cat names correct wins the goody bag!  One entry per person/household please.  I reserve the right to select one winner from all entries if more than one answer is reasonably correct.  Everyone is welcome to enter, except for CarseatBlog editors.