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Monthly Archive:: October 2013

Why 3-Year-Olds Have No Business Riding In Booster Seats

3 year old in booster seatI see this less frequently than in years past, but it’s still happening all across America. Parents are graduating preschool age children into booster seats too quickly. The problem is, it’s not a “graduation”. It’s a demotion in safety. And it’s putting young children at risk for serious and possibly fatal injuries in a crash.

Here are some of the main reasons why 3-year-olds (and even many 4-year-olds) have no business riding in a booster seat in the car:

  1. 3-year-olds (and young kids, in general) lack the maturity to stay properly seated for every ride in a booster seat
  2. Even though some booster seats are rated down to 30 lbs., it is generally accepted that children under 40 lbs. are best protected in a seat with a 5-pt harness
  3. Many booster seats do not position the seatbelt optimally on the body of an average 3-or-4-year-old which could lead to internal injuries in a crash
  4. Many boosters seats have a seating depth (front-to-back) that is too deep for the shorter legs of a younger child. If the child has to slouch or scoot forward to bend his/her knees over the edge of the booster, that will promote poor seatbelt fit which increases injury risk.
  5. Having a 3-year-old in a booster is illegal in some states (like New York), although there may be exemptions

 

Think of it this way – when your child rides in a carseat with a 5-point harness, the responsibility for the child’s safety rests on you, the parent or caregiver, to make sure that the child is safe in the vehicle. It’s the parent/caregiver’s responsibility to make sure the seat is installed tightly and the harness straps are snug around the child. The child is responsible for nothing. God forbid, in case of a crash, the child should be in the proper position to allow the carseat to do its job.

Now, once your child transitions to a belt-positioning booster seat using the vehicle seatbelt – that responsibility for the child’s safety switches to the child. The booster seat can’t do its job if, at the moment of impact, the child has leaned over to pick up something off of the floor of the car. Or leaned over to mess with their little brother or sister. Or fallen asleep out of position. Or put the shoulder belt under their arm. Etc, etc. Booster seats are for children who are mature enough to sit still and stay in the proper position. And they have to be able to stay in that proper position for the entire ride, every ride. Awake or asleep.

I know there are some 3-year-olds who can do that but the vast majority cannot. 3-year-olds (and many 4-year-olds) are just too wiggly! Most are not ready yet for the extra freedom that a booster provides. Usually, by kindergarten age, most kids are ready to start “booster training”. But if your kid is still a wiggle worm with no impulse control – then you should continue to use a seat with a 5-point harness. Just make sure it’s a seat that your kid still fits in.

There are some carseats with a 5-pt harness that have low top harness slots and a 40 lbs weight limits on the harness. Those seats will be outgrown much more quickly by weight or by height. But there are many more seats on the market today with a 5-point harness rated up to 50, 65 or even 90 lbs. that also have tall top harness slots to keep those preschool age kids safely in a 5-pt harness for a few more years. And many of them can also be used in booster mode (without the harness) once the harness is outgrown. We call those “Combination Seats” because they combine a forward-facing 5-point harness seat with a booster seat.

For more information, please see our list of Recommended Seats or visit our forum at www.Car-Seat.Org.

 

ABC Expo 2013: Graco Updates & Tranzitions 65 Convertible Preview

New IMMI Graco buckleGraco has good news for anyone in the market for an infant seat: by the end of this year, all their infant seat buckles will be the IMMI buckles! What that means for the Average Josephine is that the release button will be easier push and the buckle tongs will be easier to insert into the buckle. Yay! Trust me, they’re happy about it too. Speaking of infant seats, Babies R Us has renewed their exclusivity contract for the SnugRide 40, so if you or a friend are looking for that particular Graco infant seat, you can only get it at BRU.

Graco is introducing a new Argos 80 Elite model based on the Argos 70 Elite, but with structural changes to beef it up to handle the extra 10 lbs. of kid. So the new weight range will be 20-80 lbs. Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby will carry the Argos 80 Elite starting sometime in the 2nd quarter of 2014. MSRP $219.

Graco Argos 80 Elite

There are some changes to the Size4Me/Head Wise/My Size convertible carseats. Because of 2014 regulatory changes, Graco is reducing the upper weight limit to 65 lbs. You’ll be seeing this happen with a lot of manufacturers’ convertible carseats with current weight limits over 65 lbs. The labels will be changed to reflect the change in weight limit, otherwise the seats should remain largely the same.

Now, I bet you thought nothing was really going on at Graco because I waited until now to tell you about something NEW! I just like to build anticipation ;) . Graco is adding a new convertible seat based on the Size4Me shell but at a lower pricepoint. In the” Tranzitions 65″, you get the same great height of the Size4Me/Head Wise/My Size seats, but with fewer features. The harness is still a no re-thread adjustment for changing harness height, but they’ve removed the sliding recline feature and added a flip foot for a simple 2-position recline. There’s one LATCH strap instead of 2 and it’s on a bar on the side of the carseat; it has the standard Graco hooks for lower anchor connectors. The labels are also different: there are lots of drawings instead of text, which makes them very easy to understand. Graco’s done a great job of keeping features parents need while keeping price low at $159. The Tranzitions 65 is due out in the 1st quarter of 2014. Initial fashions are Pierce (pictured here), Nyssa & Go Green (pictured at end of blog)

New Graco Tranzitions 65  Graco Tranzitions 65

Graco Tranzitions 65

 

Affix with Safety Surround in Stargazer fashionAffix highback booster will now be available with “Safety Surround” technology. BuyBuyBaby exclusive. “Stargazer” fashion. $99

 

 

A few new fashions:

  

  

 

Just the Universe “Doing Its Thing”

On FridayPassenger Pick-Up Terminal 5 night I flew home from the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas and my flight arrived at JFK at around 9:30 PM. After I picked up my luggage and called for my shuttle service I went outside to wait for the shuttle van. They told me it would be there in 5-10 minutes but 15 or more minutes went by with no Red Dot Airport Shuttle in sight.

After a while a mother and her young child appeared and stood next to me waiting for their ride. No carseat in sight. I was disappointed but not surprised. Soon a car pulled up and as they waved, I spied with my little eye a FF Britax Blvd (original generation) in the backseat. I was silently impressed – not because it was a Britax but just because there was an appropriate CR for the child to ride in. The driver and passenger of the vehicle got out to greet mom and child. I suspected that they were the child’s grandparents, which was later confirmed. As grandpa loaded the luggage into the trunk, I watched mom open the back door to the car (driver’s side) and grab the carseat as if checking the installation. I groaned to myself as I watched the seat move all over the place when she did this. I wondered if she was going to leave it that way. She shut the door and came back to the curb. Then she opened the passenger’s side door and climbed into the backseat. She’s going to fix the carseat installation! I silently rejoiced. But then I recognized that look of complete bewilderment on her face. Oh, no! She doesn’t know what to do! At that point I knew I had to offer to help.

“Do you need some help?”, I asked, sticking my head into the car. “Installing carseats is what I do for a living”, I half-joke in my most friendly tone. The look of relief on her face was priceless and I knew in an instant that she wasn’t going to yell at me or tell me to mind my own damn business. I knew I could help her and I knew I could get that seat installed quickly but I also had one eye on the road looking out for my shuttle which was already past due. At this point I start praying that it doesn’t come right this second. I don’t need a lot of time but I also know the shuttle won’t wait for me to finish helping someone with a carseat installation.

At this point all typical installation education goes out the window because I gotta get this done FAST. The seat isn’t attached to the vehicle at all – except by the tether. I’m thinking Thank God it’s a Britax convertible as I get it installed rock-solid with the seatbelt in 20 seconds. I would have used LATCH but the lower anchor connectors were still stored inside the cubby holes under the cover and I didn’t have time to mess with taking them out. I’m also thinking “don’t obsess about perfection – just make this child safER than what she would have been for the ride home if I hadn’t been here”. The entire time I’m looking up every 10 seconds, watching the road, hoping for another minute. So far, so good, still no Red Dot shuttle. Okay, seat is installed tightly and tethered – let’s get this kid strapped in! But wait – ugh, the harness is waaaay too low. I gotta crank it up higher. But it’s an original model Blvd and I’m turning and turning and turning that stupid little knob and it feels like it’s taking forever and hardly moving. I start using both hands to turn both knobs simultaneously. Finally, I get the headwings extended slightly above the main shell and I’m hoping that that’s tall enough for my new friend, Grace. We plop her in – it’s perfect! Mom and I buckle her up nice and snug and I give her a high-five. I tell her that she was awesome, because well…. she was! It was late and they flew all the way from CA and most kids that age would have been cranky and miserable by that point but Grace was perfectly cooperative and full of interesting questions. She was totally adorable and I was so glad that I was able to help her and her family.

Mom and grandparents were so happy and appreciative. Grandma said I had “restored her faith in humanity”. I thought that was super sweet. Honestly, I was just as happy and appreciative that they had taken me up on my offer to help. I learned a long time ago that I can’t save the world, but I still want to.

I gave them my last business card and hopefully they’ll contact me because I know there are other things that need to be checked and explained. I wasn’t able to give the seat a thorough once-over and they didn’t get much education but hopefully I’ll see them again since the grandparents live relatively close to me.

After they drove off, I called my shuttle service back to say “hey, where the heck are you?”  The dispatcher says “the driver told me he got you”. Ummm…. no. Obviously I wasn’t pissed about it and they sent another van to get me within 10 minutes but it made me think that my shuttle was MIA for a reason. Things like this happen to me often enough and I’ve learned not to question them. I figure it’s just the universe “doing its thing”. For whatever reason, I was meant to cross paths with Grace and her lovely family at the passenger pickup area of JFK’s Terminal 5. I’m not sure why but I was happy to oblige.

ABC Expo 2013: New Diono & Little Tikes Boosters

Diono_logo

 

We already covered Diono’s new line of convertibles in a previous blog. Now for info on their new boosters.

Diono is adding two new boosters to its lineup to join the existing Monterey and Santa Fe. These new boosters will have a slightly lower price-point and are made of blow-molded plastic. Diono has included strategic air pockets and interior ribbing to make the blow-molded seats stronger and more reinforced in a crash, improving their performance.

The Cambria is the new high-back booster, and will be rated for 40-120 lbs. It has lower LATCH attachments and swivel-out cupholders/snack trays on both sides. It has six height positions (versus the Monterey’s 11), and will retail for about $99.99.

New Diono Booster - Cambria  New Diono Boosters

 

The new backless booster is called the Solana. It also features LATCH attachments and swivel-out cupholders/snack trays, and it will also have a 40-lb minimum. Retail price is about $39.99.

Diono Booster  Diono Booster

 

Diono expects the boosters to be available in the US and Canada around the end of this year.

The other news in Diono boosters is that the company has purchased a license to brand booster seats under the Little Tikes name. Although Little Tikes is often considered a company for infants and toddlers, they are beginning to focus on products for the 5+ age group, so the boosters will be geared in that direction.

The line will include backless and high-back boosters in bright primary colors. The seats are unique from Diono’s existing line of booster seats and will retail for $19.99-$59.99. Little Tikes boosters are expected in 2014 and will also be marketed in Canada.

Little Tikes Boosters  Little Tikes Boosters

Little Tikes Highback Booster Measurement  Little Tikes Highback Booster Measurement

Little Tikes Highback Booster  Little Tikes Highback Booster

Little Tikes Backless Booster  Little Tikes Backless Booster

Little Tikes Backless Boosters

 

Kiddy Evolution Pro Infant Carseat Preview

Kiddy EvolutionPRO infant seatA couple days ago we brought you a video of the Kiddy Evolution Pro infant seat. At the time, we had absolutely no information about the seat, so we made stuff up. (Just kidding—but we didn’t have any information to share.) But now we have answers!

The Evolution Pro is interesting in that it can lie flat. That had us scratching our heads a bit, trying to figure out how safe that would be in a car. The very simple answer (that we hadn’t even considered) is that it is not meant to lie flat in the car, just in a stroller or on the floor. I’m not sure why that possibility hadn’t occurred to us, but there it is.

Kiddy has built safeguards into the seat to ensure that people can’t install it while it’s flat. For one, it won’t snap into the base unless the seat is in the proper position. Second, as you recline the seat into its flat mode, little tabs pop up to block the belt path on the seat itself.

The seat will be rated from 6-35 lbs, but a preemie inlay will be available to reduce the minimum weight all the way down to 3 lbs. The insert consists of a headrest, body support, and a wedge/pommel to help fill the gap in the crotch area and prevent slumping.

The seat features a no re-thread harness that adjusts to five different heights.

As if lying flat weren’t different enough, here’s another big difference for you: The seat will have a 3-point harness.

Initially we thought the 3-point was just a prototype from Europe, but it really will be that way on the US model as well. The Kiddy representatives said that a 5-point wouldn’t allow the seat to lie flat, and they also feel confident in their decision to bring a Euopean-style 3-point to the US market. The Evolution Pro has been in Europe since May, and it has passed all testing there, including side-impact testing. They feel it will perform equally well in American testing.

Here are Heather and Kecia going over some of the seat’s features:

 

The prototype base features a ratcheting system to tighten the seatbelt or LATCH belt. The handle must be up in the car (and won’t click into the base if it isn’t). Baseless, the seat allows for European belt routing.

Kiddy Evolution Pro - early PROTOTYPE base

Kiddy Evolution Pro – early PROTOTYPE base

 

The Evolution Pro will come in several colors, from neutral to zebra print. You’ll also be able to mix-and-match covers and inserts to create adorable combinations.

Kiddy Evolution Pro  Kiddy Evolution Pro

Accessories include a mosquito net/breathable rain cover combo.

Kiddy Bug/Rain Shield  Kiddy Bug/Rain Shield

 

The Kiddy Evolution Pro is expected around the first quarter of 2014. It will retail for about $299 for the seat and base, and extra bases will be available for about $99.