Monthly Archive:: April 2009

Dorel Prospect as booster (Part X – Combo Seat Review Series)

I’ve decided to document how various combination (harness/booster) seats fit my now 4.5-year-old,    42 lb, 43″ tall son in booster mode.  He’s at the size where most parents would be switching from the 5-pt harness to the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt in booster mode if they had a combination seat with a 40 lb limit on the harness.  In each case I’ll use the same seating position in my van – driver’s side captain’s chair in a 2005 Ford Freestar.     

The IIHS booster study compared the fit of various boosters using the 6-year-old Hybrid lll dummy who weighs 51.6 lbs (23.41 kg) and has a standing height of almost 45″.  I thought it would be even better to show belt fit on a child who was just over the 40 lb weight limit for the 5-pt harness.  I’ve decided to focus exclusively on combination seats because of their popularity.         

This week we’ll be looking at the Dorel (Cosco/Safety 1st/Eddie Bauer) Prospect as a booster.  This seat is also sold as the Adjustable High Back Booster.

Checking your carseat installation

Is your carseat installed properly?  Many parents and caregivers don’t know what constitutes a proper installation or the right way to check to make sure the carseat is installed properly.  On the flip side, some CPS technicians wonder if it’s possible to install a carseat too tightly?  And what about belt tightening devices like the Mighty-Tite?  Are these devices necessary and are they safe to use?   

Let’s start with what constitutes a good or acceptable installation.  If you can get the child restraint (CR) installed so that there is less than 1″ of side-to-side and front-to-back movement at the belt path, then the seat is properly installed.   The belt path is the part of the CR or base where the seatbelt or the lower LATCH anchor attachment belt is threaded through.  That’s the area that you want to tug on to check for movement.  Check for movement before you attach and tighten the tether strap if this applies to your situation.   

Use a reasonable amount of force to check for tightness.  You want to give it a good tug at the belt path to check for movement (especially if you’re installing a heavy seat) but you don’t want to push or pull so hard that you’re forcing the seat to move.            

What about belt tightening devices?  If it’s a feature on your seat (such as lower LATCH attachments with a built-in ratcheting device a la Evenflo Symphony or SafeGuard Child Seat) then it’s fine – obviously.  However, separate ratcheting devices such as the Mighty-Tite are unnecessary, prohibited by the vast majority of CR manufacturers, may void the CR’s warranty and may actually damage the vehicle’s seatbelt.  

Here’s the bottom line – install the seat (or base) as tightly as you can but don’t use a mechanical device unless it’s a feature of your CR.  As long as you’re just using compression, leverage and your bare hands to install the CR then it isn’t really possible to exert so much pressure that you compromise the seatbelt.  If you can get the CR installed so that it doesn’t move at all when you check for tightness – that’s great.  But don’t feel like you have to kill yourself trying to get it in rock-solid if you’re struggling just to get it within the 1″.  As long as you can get the seat tight to the point where it moves less than 1″, that’s fine. 

Of course, some CRs are just legitimately incompatible with certain seating positions and no matter what you try – you’re just not going to be able to get it to move less than 1″.  I hate these situations and they’re increasingly less common but it still happens.  In these cases you can try a different seating position within the vehicle (if that’s possible) and if that doesn’t work, then the only options are either finding a different CR that does work or getting a different vehicle.         

To be honest, most of the time what may initially seem like an “incompatability”, isn’t really.  If you know a few tricks, it’s usually possible to get the seat installed properly.  CPS Technicians learn over time what methods work best in different situations and will pass these tips onto parents.  Sometimes, the simplest adjustment can make a huge difference in the installation. 

Stay tuned for our new blog series “Tricks of the Trade” where we’ll be covering various tips and tricks that may help to simplify the carseat installation process.  We can’t guarantee that these tips will help everyone in every every situation but if it makes one person’s life a little easier, and one kid a little safer then it will be worth the effort.

Another Swell Giveaway!

Our last foray into the brave new world of video didn’t work too well when drew names out of a hat for our Cowmoo Marathon giveaway over the holidays. We’re trying again, but this time with embedded YouTube, so hopefully most of our readers will be able to see it!  Suffice to say that the winner of the last contest could probably give you a pretty idea of the prize(s), even if you can’t see the video!


To enter for this fabulous prize, simply reply here with a comment!  Only one entry per person, please.  If you comment more than once, only your first comment will count!

Transporting Special Needs Children? It’s EZ with the Roosevelt

The Roosevelt has been at a number of conferences and shows over the last few years, including the Lifesavers conference we just attended.  It doesn’t get a lot of publicity, because it’s a rather expensive model intended for special health care needs.  It does, however, have some more mainstream applications.  For example, it has an upper weight limit of 115 pounds, maximum height of 62 inches and a top harness slot of over 22″.  That alone makes it one of the only options for older kids in the top few percentiles of weight or height who may not be ready for a booster or seatbelt.

Special needs child restraints serve a very important purpose, from preemies to teenagers who can’t use a conventional carseat for any of a number of reasons.  Just as there are specialty seats for this purpose, there are many specially certified technicians who have taken an extra course to be familiar with these issues.  Working with you, your child and their physician or therapist, a special needs tech can help create a personalized transportation plan. 

Do you have a child with special health care needs and have questions on what to do when transporting them in your vehicle?  Our discussion forums at Car-Seat.Org now have a special forum for this purpose (and also for issues involving alternative transportation like school buses and aircraft).  It is monitored by around a dozen certified technicians who have taken the special needs transportation course.  The forum is overseen by a course instructor who works with special health care needs patients in a hospital setting.  Please feel free to browse or ask a question!  No registration is required, though questions from unregistered guests may take some time before they are approved and appear to the public.

Combi Coccoro Review

The Coccoro \’kō-kə-rō\ is a new child restraint from Combi. It is a convertible seat that can be used rear or forward facing for children 5-40 lbs who are less than 40 inches tall. Rear facing, the seat is rated from 5-33 lbs with a stated height limit of 36 inches. Forward facing, it can be used for children over 1 year old who weigh between 20 and 40 lbs.

The Coccoro is compact at just over 15 inches wide and weighing only 11 lbs. The back of the shell measures ~21 inches tall with harness slots at 9, 11, 13 and 15 inches. The lack of a base makes it is a good candidate to fit in even the smallest of vehicles.