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Monthly Archive:: September 2012

CarseatBlog’s Updated List of Recommended Carseats!

It’s been a while since we last updated our list of recommended child restraints. Some models have been updated, some discontinued and many new products have been introduced. A few weeks ago we started the process of revising and updating the entire list and after much thought and discussion we arrived at a consensus. Behold our Updated List of Recommended Carseats!

We acknowledge that many certified child passenger safety technicians have had it ingrained upon them that they are supposed to act completely neutral toward child restraints.  All child safety seats pass the same tests, they are all safe, blah, blah, blah.  In their class to become certified, most techs were told never to tell a parent that one child seat or brand is better than any other.  Instead, technicians are instructed to tell parents that the best seat is the one that fits their child, their vehicle and is easiest for them to use correctly.  Nothing wrong with that.

Problem is, once you’ve installed even a dozen different seats, you quickly learn that there are real differences.  Some child restraints do tend to fit better in general, while some are really easier to use in general.  Even so, back in the CPS dark ages, rogue technicians who discussed the reality of different child seats were routinely burned at the stake! This very topic about the best or safest car seats even gave our dearly departed Marvin his career as a blogger!

Thankfully, those days of CPS witch hunts are long gone.  The ”no recommendations” concept came to an end a few years back when the mighty NHTSA started recommending seats themselves.  They didn’t make these recommendations based upon crash testing.  No, they were made upon a subjective determination of factors relating to ease-of-use.  Ironically, these factors were no more likely to apply to someone’s own child and vehicle than the recommendations of an experienced technician!  Enter another respected institution, the IIHS.  A few years back they began rating boosters based on fit to a standardized dummy.  Again, no crash testing whatsoever.  Again, no guarantees that the results apply to any particular child in any specific vehicle.

So, who is CarseatBlog to go recommending specific child seats?  Sure, Heather and Kecia are very experienced certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructors.  And Darren has been a certified technician for more than a decade and has like a zillion websites on the topic.  We’ve all been involved with local Safe Kids organizations, SafetyBeltSafe USA and other groups.  And we like to think that we’ve developed a great reputation in the professional CPS community. Most importantly, though, we’re just parents who have used a lot of different car seats.  Like many products we use daily, we know which ones we tend to like in general, which ones we’d use without reservation for our own kids and which ones we are comfortable recommending to CarseatBlog readers and visitors.

So, please take our carseat recommendations with a grain of salt. They are merely opinions, after all.  And while we did thoughtfully consider the pros and cons of each seat and combine that with our personal experiences with the product – there’s no crash testing involved.  Some seats were omitted because we opted to include a similar model from the same manufacturer.   For others, we simply didn’t have enough experience with the product to make an opinion at all.  There are a number of products that we don’t mention, if only because a list of every seat we like would be too inclusive, so products that we don’t include may still be worth your consideration!  Conversely, some seats we do list may just not work well for you, your child or your vehicle.  We’re not saying these are the best or safest choices in child car seats, we’re just saying they’re models we think you should consider.  If nothing else, it’s a good place to start when you are carseat or booster shopping!

Please feel free to leave a comment if you think one of our recommendations is rubbish or if you know of a product that you feel deserves a mention!  Unlike some other organizations that think their word is the final one, we know our readers have recommendations just as valid as our own!

Graco Snugride 40 Click Connect Video Review

Please stay tuned for Kecia’s Graco Snugride 40 Click Connect full review.  Until then, I have a couple photos and video previews of this great new “Rear-Facing” seat.

*UPDATE – see our complete SnugRide 40 Click Connect review here.

First, will it really fit our baby until they are 2-years old?

Great, but what about my tiny newborn?

 

Below you can see how well it fits a 2-year old girl (also seen in the first video) who is around 26 pounds and just a hair over the 35″ standing height limit stated in the instruction manual.  It is a good demonstration that this seat should accommodate many kids at least until their second birthday.  (CarseatBlog does not advocate that parents exceed any published limits from the manufacturer, our images are for demonstration purposes only!).   The other photo demonstrates the excellent fit to a 10-pound newborn, even with the harness height adjusted up from the minimum a few notches and the crotch strap adjusted to the longer length.

 

Will it fit my car?  I found installation to be pretty typical.  Perhaps a little easier than average for seatbelt installs, with a nice, narrow seatbelt path and a great built-in lockoff in case you don’t have LATCH.  LATCH wasn’t difficult, but the basic hooks are sometimes a little harder to attach and often more difficult to remove.  I’d have liked to see Graco’s great InRight LATCH attachments on a carseat in this price range, but otherwise I had no specific issues.  As for size, it’s a bit larger and heavier than most infant seats, but of course this is necessary when you need to fit kids up to 35″ and 40 pounds!  So, while it will probably fit your 2-year old in your minivan, it might not fit your 2-year old in a sub-compact car!

Advantages:

  • Fits many kids kids up to 2 years old!
  • Comfy newborn inserts and crotch strap adjustment provide fit to low birthweight infants
  • Innovative 8-position adjustment with recline indicator on both sides of base
  • Dual zone indicators allow for older kids to be more upright
  • Older kids get more legroom as they become more upright
  • Easy adjustments for harness height, no strap re-threading required
  • Side impact head wings
  • Built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations
  • Extendable footrest

 

Disadvantages:

  • Not compatible with older Graco strollers
  • Basic LATCH hooks
  • Second harness buckle tongue can be hard to insert
  • Made in China, yet costs $219.99.  Only available at Babies R Us.
This is perhaps the first infant seat that will fit most kids until they are ready to be forward-facing at 2-years old, the age recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Obviously, you won’t be toting your 35 pound 2-year old around in the carrier!  For heavier kids, both carrier and base will generally remain in the car at all times, rather than detaching the carrier to bring a sleeping baby into the house with you.  For those kids that do make it past 2-years, they could well move from this carseat into a combination harness/booster child restraint, skipping a convertible seat altogether.  Parents who want to keep their kids rear-facing beyond 2 years may still opt for a larger convertible, of course, but for most parents, this is provides a very nice step beyond the 1 year, 20-pound minimum requirement for forward-facing.

 

Please also visit the Graco Baby website for more information on the Graco Snugride 40 Click Connect.

Facebookies

We love comments.  So much that we are making it easier for Facebook members to leave one!

You should now be able to login via Facebook to leave us a note!  In the spot where you normally enter your email address and name, you should now see a Facebook Connect button at the top.  Once you connect, your Facebook avatar should now appear instead of the cartoon “gravatar”.  Please try it and let us know what you think!

If you prefer not to use Facebook or don’t have a Facebook account, you can still leave a comment the old fashioned way!

Highway Hazards, Which is Scarier?

A couple photos from some recent road trips for your amusement…

 

What have you seen on the roads lately that made you look twice?

Get Fired Up

Picture this: In an attempt to shift the blame in deaths caused by house fires, Big Tobacco enlists firefighters and shoddy science to sway the public and politicians to help create fire-retardancy standards. Then the chemical industry sets up and funds a trade group that pays “concerned professionals” and “ordinary people” to champion its efforts under the guise of a “citizens organization.” One of the people it pays includes a doctor, the head of the American Burn Association, who testifies in front of state legislatures about babies killed due to a lack of fire retardants…only those babies don’t exist. To top it off, the flame retardants don’t work as promised anyway, and the government is unwilling or unable to do anything about it.

That’s not the stuff of a paranoid conspiracy theory or a John Grisham novel. It’s from an investigative series by the Chicago Tribune that examines the origin and future of flame-retardancy standards in America.

I’ll briefly summarize the report here, but read it yourself for the full details. It’s an engrossing—and largely appalling—read.

Several decades ago, the tobacco industry was facing a public relations nightmare—not due to cancer deaths, but due to people dying in house fires caused by cigarettes. Rather than taking the heat or creating safer cigarettes, the industry decided to shift the blame to the furnishings that were catching on fire.

Obviously, the tobacco companies wouldn’t have much credibility spreading the idea that it was the furniture’s fault, so the industry decided to woo firefighters and fire safety organizations to their cause through grants and perks. A former tobacco industry executive came up with the idea of creating a firefighting organization to help their efforts. Thus, the National Association of State Fire Marshals was born.

It’s not quite clear to what extent the fire marshals realized they were pawns in a game to get people to support adding fire-resistant chemicals to furniture. Some of them thought the head of their association was a volunteer, not aware that he was being paid by tobacco companies. Regardless, the association worked to promote fire-retardant furniture (and maybe even genuinely believed in the cause) even as other firefighters expressed concerns about effectiveness and the more-toxic smoke produced when these products burn.

Oh, and that tobacco executive? He later went on to serve as a lobbyist for the chemical industry.

But hey, at least we’re protected, right?

Maybe not. Government studies have found no meaningful difference between household items treated with chemicals and those without. In addition, both produced a similar amount of smoke, which (as opposed to being engulfed in flames) is what usually causes deaths in fires.