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Monthly Archive:: March 2011

Too much of a good thing? Summer Prodigy Infant Seat

There has been buzz for a while about the new Prodigy car seat from Summer Infant. Darren wrote a bit about it after the ABC show last year, but now it’s closer to being a reality (it should hit shelves this summer). I had a chance to play with it at Lifesavers this past weekend, and I definitely got a better feel for the seat.

First, I do like the concept of the electronic display to help parents know what their seat is doing. When the seat is level, a green smiley face pops up. If it’s not level, you get a red exclamation point. Same goes for the tightness of the seat.

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Carseat Preview!

Greetings from the Lifesavers Conference! Heather, Jennie and I are enjoying a few beautiful days in warm, sunny Phoenix.  Tonight Heather and I were honored to be included in a small, informal gathering of advocates invited to preview a new prototype convertible seat from Dorel - the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70!

So what’s so special about this seat that it warrants making us late for dinner in order to break the news?  The most innovative feature is the seat-within-a-seat feature of the Pria 70.  What starts off as a nice, higher weight harness convertible with a no-rethread harness, decent harness slot heights and good rear-facing and forward-facing weight limits then transforms into an excellent seat for infants and even preemies with the addition of the Tiny Fit™ insert.  And no we’re not talking about a wedge of foam. This is truly a seat within a seat and it’s so coooool! It’s its own shell! It fits into the Pria and has 3 harness slots of its own for the little ones. When inserted into the larger carseat shell, it changes the recline angle for the child substantially so the seat can be installed more upright in the vehicle, but the infant has the near 45* recline. Both the larger seat and the Tiny Fit™ insert will incorporate Dorel’s Air Protect technology for increased side-impact protection.

Prototype Specs & Measurements (may change for final version so don’t hold us to these numbers):

Rear-facing 4-40 lbs

Forward-facing 22-70 lbs

Top harness slots of main shell:  17”

Harness slot heights with Tiny Fit insert: 5”, 7”, 9”

3 positions for crotch strap

Optional harness strap covers and infant head hugger support

Additional preemie chest clip (not pictured) will be included in the box for those infants who may benefit from something smaller than the standard chest clip

Maxi Cosi Pria 70 Price Point $249

Expected Arrival – late summer

Without the Tiny Fit insert, the recline in the recommended “this line level to the ground” angle is pretty upright – somewhere around 30-35 degrees. This means the seat will take up considerably less room in the rear-facing position despite the fact that it’s rather tall.  Ultimately, this should make many rear-facing toddlers and preschoolers happy to be sitting more upright.  Mom and Dad will be happy too because they won’t have to eat the dashboard just because junior is rear-facing behind them.  Younger babies will have closer to a 45 degree recline with the TinyFit insert.

       

Cheers for Toyota! (But Jeers for Some Dealers)

The new 2011 NHTSA crash testing program hasn’t been favorable to a number of vehicles.  In general, that’s a good thing.  Tougher testing not only means more distinction among vehicles, but also gives manufacturers incentive to make cars even safer.  In 2010 and earlier, most cars received only 4-star and 5-star ratings.  With the new tests, some popular models are getting worse overall results than before, especially in one or more of the five individual crash tests (two frontal impact, three side impact) that go into the overall rating.

We purchased a 2010 Toyota Prius before this crash testing had been completed.  While the 2010 Prius was a “Top Safety Pick” according to the IIHS and it also did fairly well in the 2010 NHTSA crash tests, Toyota’s track record so far hadn’t been all that great for the 2011 NHTSA testing.  Most notably, the popular Camry and RAV4 received very mediocre “3-star” overall ratings.  While the all new Sienna minivan received a “4-star” overall rating, its 3-star rating for the frontal tests (due to only 2-stars for the female passenger dummy test) was not particularly good for a model designed with these new tests in mind.

Rear-Facing Until 2 Years Old: Why Not?

Any time a new recommendation from anything resembling an “authority” is released regarding the welfare of children, critics come out in droves to decry the advice. Sometimes, they have a legitimate concern. Other times, their reasoning is inherently flawed or purely emotional. For a background, be sure to read about the new AAP recommendations and check out the Rear Facing Link Guide for references. In this blog, Heather, Kecia and I put together some answers to fourteen popular questions:

1.) Won’t my toddler be uncomfortable facing the back? No, he or she will be just fine. Most toddlers are actually more comfortable rear-facing because the carseat is reclined and it’s much more comfortable to sleep that way than sitting upright in the forward-facing position. Plus they can prop up their feet instead of having them dangle unsupported.

2.) Won’t their feet or legs be injured because they are bent or crossed or touching the back of the seat?  No, but this is a very big misconception among parents. In reality, during a frontal crash (the most common type of crash), the legs will fly up and away from the back seat. It’s also much more important to protect the head, neck and spinal cord in a crash which is exactly what rear-facing carseats do so well. If you’re still not convinced – there is this study by CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) that looked at injuries to children ages 1 – 4 who were hurt in crashes and leg injuries were rare for those kids in rear-facing seats. However, injuries to the lower extremity region were the second most common type of injury for the kids in forward-facing seats. That’s because the legs of a child in a forward-facing seat are thrown forward and can hit the console or the back of the front seat. Study quote: “Injuries below the knee were the most common, particularly to the tibia/fibula, and they most often occurred due to interaction with the vehicle seatback in front of the child’s seating position.”

A little perspective. Keeping your kids safe, made as easy as 1…2…3!

Carseat and vehicle owner’s manuals can be confusing, at best.  Policy statements from injury prevention experts can be just as bad.  If you don’t follow safest practice guidelines, is your child really unsafe?   Here’s what we know with no question, based on compelling statistics.

  1. Most kids who die in motor vehicle crashes are unrestrained.  Simply using a child safety seat that is appropriate for your child according to the age, weight and height ranges on the labels is a huge reduction in risk. 
  2. Installing and using that child seat correctly in the back seat is another big reduction in risk.  If you can’t figure out how to install or use it right, seek help!  Online or in person.
  3. Many fatalities involve impaired and distracted drivers.  You can’t always control the other driver, but you can make sure you are unimpaired and not distracted with cellphones, food or other things that take your concentration off the road.  That also is a big reduction in risk.

 

Those factors alone account for a very large percentage of children killed in motor vehicle crashes.  If parents could just address those issues, we would have many less fatalities each year and motor vehicle crashes would far below their current rank as the #1 killer of kids 3-14 years old.

There are many other factors that certainly affect the safety of kids in cars, but probably to a lesser degree. For example, what rear seating position to use, what brand/model of carseat or vehicle to buy, when to transition from one type of seat to the next, if/when to discontinue use of the LATCH system and countless other factors.  All these factors are important, but in the grand scheme of things, likely to be far less important than the “Big Three” factors above when it comes to saving the lives of children. 

For parents who want to keep their kids as safe as possible, Kecia has great advice about understanding the newest policy guidelines.  While we strongly suggest that you thoroughly read and understand your owner’s manuals and also the best practice guidelines from agencies like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the NHTSA, Safe Kids USA and others, we recognize that many parents don’t have the time or just become frustrated with all the confusion.  Some probably think these guidelines are made only to impose new restrictions on parents or to sell more carseats.  For those, just following the three suggestions above will reduce the risk from riding in a car to well below many other common risks to your child.

Stay tuned for a new blog regarding common misconceptions and criticisms of the new guidelines!