CarseatBlog’s Holiday Gift Guide: Jennie’s Picks

‘Tis the season, and some of you might be racking your brains trying to figure out what to get those special someones in your lives. CarseatBlog is here to help with our list of fun and/or useful gifts for everyone on your list.

For the grown-ups:


Res-Q-Me Keychain Escape Tool

This handy tool takes up little room on your keychain, but in an emergency it can cut through a seatbelt or break a window. Chances are you and your loved ones will never need it, but the few bucks is worth the peace of mind, in my opinion. Makes a perfect stocking stuffer for the driver in your life!


Windshield Cover

Windshield Covers for the Snow

This is the first year we’ll need to park a car in the snow. I’m not looking forward to spending precious minutes (in the freezing cold) scraping off snow and ice. Enter the windshield covers that supposedly let you lift them off and go. I forget exactly which model I got, but there are lots to choose from on Amazon. Hopefully they work!


Crio Bru

Crio Brü 

Know someone who loves coffee but wants to try something different? Or someone who hates coffee but enjoys warm beverages? Try Crio Brü, my new favorite drink. You brew it like coffee (in a french press is best), but it’s not coffee: it’s roasted, ground cacao beans. It’s unsweetened so it’s bitter, but much less so than coffee, and has a wonderful chocolatey flavor. You can add cream and sugar or other flavorings to sweeten it to your liking. I prefer it black or with an occasional dollop of whipped cream on top. There are lots of varieties to choose from, each imparting different undertones based on where the beans come from. They also have different flavor blends, like the Pumpkin Spice and Mint I just ordered. These would make perfect gifts for friends and neighbors for the holidays, or great host/hostess gifts any time of year.



Veeptopus Strange Artwork

Have a history buff, octopus fan, or lover of surrealist art on your list? Veeptopus might be your answer. This guy has found a way to combine cephalopods with the Executive Branch by painting every American Vice President with an octopus on his head. He also has new lines featuring William Howard Taft cavorting with badgers, and some badgers wielding axes and Santa hats. Some might ask, “Why?” Others might ask, “Why not?” (I’m a “Why not,” and if anyone wants to buy me a gift, I’ll take the one with Taft wearing a badger mask atop the badger wearing the Taft mask. Classic stuff.)


For the kids:


Comparison of Budget-Priced Convertible Carseats under $100

Parents are in a great position today if they need a convertible carseat priced under $100. These seats don’t have all the bells and whistles that the fanciers carseats do, but they get the job done of keeping children secure in crashes and have the added advantage of being lightweight, which make them great as travel seats. We compiled this comparison of budget-friendly convertibles currently available to help you find what meets your needs.


Cosco Apt 40 RF

Review: http://carseatblog.com/17513/cosco-apt-review-does-it-compete-with-the-scenera

Cosco Apt 40 RF

Who it’s designed for: infants and toddlers
Who it fits: infants and small toddlers
Rear-facing weight limits: 5-40 lbs.
Rear-facing height limits: 19-40” or top of head even with top of seat shell
Forward-facing weight limits: 22-40 lbs.
Price: $54.99


  • Very lightweight
  • Fits infants very well
  • Dual rear-facing recline levels
  • Installs easily with both seat belt and lower LATCH connectors
  • Made in the USA


  • Short
  • Must adjust harness lap belts for use on lowest harness slots
  • Very wide at cup holders
  • Very low top harness slots

Basics and Measurements

  • 5 harness slots
  • 8 year expiration
  • FAA-approved
  • Harness slots: 5.5”, 7.5”, 9.5”, 11.5”, 13.5”
  • Buckle slots: 3”, 4.5”, 6”
  • Internal seat height: 23”
  • Seat pan depth: 12”
  • External widest width: 21” at cup holders, 18 ¾” at shoulders
  • Weight: 8.0 lbs.
  • LATCH anchor weight limits: can use LATCH to maximum 40 lbs. weight limit


When I first received the Apt in its box, I thought for sure the box was empty because it was so light. It was right when I first injured my shoulder and couldn’t lift anything—but I could lift this box! The Apt was designed on the Cosco Scenera platform: lightweight and easy to use with some extra features. In designing the Apt, the engineers wanted to make it as easy to use as possible, so they removed the “kick stand” that the Scenera has for changing the seat between rear-facing and forward-facing modes. They also added some cup holders because we Americans like to stuff things in cup holders and we pass that trait on to our wee ones. The only problem is with how they added the cup holders: they’re integrated into the shell on both sides of the seat so that it makes the seat very wide. The top harness slots are also extremely low on the Apt, so once a child hits the rear-facing weight or height limit on it, it’s likely not going to be able to be used as a forward-facing carseat. If you’re into super cute carseats, the Safety 1st arm of Dorel has a Mickey and Minnie Mouse version of the Apt. In the 1st quarter of 2015, Dorel has plans to release an updated version of the Apt. The Cosco Apt 50 will be rated to up to 50 lbs. in the forward-facing position and includes 6 sets of harness slots with the top set being around 16″ and a price point of $65.

Cosco Apt front Cosco Apt back Cosco Apt without cover Cosco Apt side Cosco Apt Romeo Cosco Apt RF Cosco Apt FF

Cosco Scenera

Review: http://carseatblog.com/2813/dorel-cosco-scenera-review-a-true-workhorse

Cosco Scenera

Who it’s designed for: infants and toddlers
Who it fits: infants and toddlers
Rear-facing weight limits: 5-35 lbs.
Rear-facing height limits: 19-36” or top of head even with top of seat shell
Forward-facing weight limits: 22-40 lbs.
Price: $39.00


  • Very lightweight
  • Fits infants well
  • Installs easily with lower LATCH connectors
  • Narrow
  • Made in the USA


  • Short
  • Single length harness strap
  • Sparse padding

Basics and Measurements

  • 8 year expiration
  • FAA-approved
  • Harness slots: 7″, 10″, 12.5″ 15″
  • Buckle slots: 4″, 5.5″, 6.5″
  • Internal seat height: 23″
  • Seat pan depth: 11.5″
  • External widest width: 17.5″
  • Weight: 7.4 lbs.
  • LATCH anchor weight limits: can use LATCH to maximum 40 lbs. weight limit


The Cosco Scenera is a small seat. Back in the day, it was like any other typical 40 lbs. harnessed carseat, but in today’s world of 65+ lbs. harnessed carseats, it’s petite. That makes it a great travel seat, but it also makes it outgrown quickly—typically around age 3, well before a child is ready to move to a belt-positioning booster seat. So keep in mind that while this is a very fantastic carseat for the price—$39—you will need another harnessed carseat for your forward-facing child. Dorel (Cosco’s parent company) is introducing a brand-new version of the Scenera in 1st Quarter 2015, called the Scenera NEXT, which will rear-face to 40 lbs. or 40″, have 5 sets of harness slots, and still be under $50. You can read more about, and see pics of the Scenera NEXT, at our KIM Conference Update blog post. The Scenera NEXT will also have Cosco’s first set of labels requiring rear-facing to age 2.

Look-a-like seats: Safety 1st onSide Air (same shell as Scenera but has AirProtect technology and a full-wrap cover)

Cosco Scenera front Cosco Scenera back Cosco Scenera without cover Cosco Scenera side Cosco Scenera Romeo Cosco Scenera RF Cosco Scenera FF


Cosco Scenera NEXT (coming soon)

Scenera NEXT

Autumn is here and the leaves are….swaying? A review of the Nuna LEAF.

Nuna LEAF Baby Seat Review

Ah, Nuna. The name brings excitement to the brains of many (Pipa? droooool) or confusion to others (what the heck is a Nuna?). But not to worry. Whatever side of the fence you are currently on, you will emerge from this post happy. Because ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, the Nuna LEAF Baby Seat:


Now in all honesty I really can’t write much on it because there isn’t much to it. But that’s the beauty of it! It’s simplistic and basic and instead of being a jack of all trades like many of the swings/bouncers/gliders/washes your dishes contraptions out there, it’s truly the master of one: gently swaying your kid.

There are two versions, the original (pictured in this review) and the new LEAF Curv model. The only differences are the design of the base.

Nuna LEAF-curv

The original LEAF is available in several colors but the LEAF Curv (pictured above) is currently only available in “Cinder”.


The Nuna Leaf is shaped like a bouncer (and adorably like a leaf) and mounted on a wide base frame. It uses a kinetic mechanism combined with the weight of your baby to keep the seat swaying side to side (like a falling leaf…get it? You’re so clever, Nuna) for quite a while without using batteries or electricity. The base also has a lever on it that can be locked to keep the seat stationary.

The lever on the side can be pushed down to lock the seat in a stationary position.

The lever on the side can be pushed down to lock the seat in a stationary position.

The cover is organic cotton and is a a nicely ventilated mesh on the seat area and the insert is also organic cotton and is generously padded. Both are machine washable. The entire thing weighs about 10.5 lbs.


The harness is fastened with strong Velcro–strong enough to contain my stubborn 12 month old but fairly noisy for a sleeping baby.


Plenty of space for 18 lb, 27 in Declan


He approves of the swaying action.

An interesting thing about the Leaf is the weight limit of 130 lbs. Not only is it a peaceful and cozy place for infants, it’s a nice hang out spot for older kids as well. My 12 month old is only interested in hanging out in it when he is tired or focusing on something but my 4 year old uses it constantly! He watches TV in it, plays games in it, uses the iPad in it…he just loves it.

Don't confuse the mistake the 4 year old attitude face…this seat makes a great preschool chill spot.

Don’t mistake the 4 year old attitude face…this seat makes a great preschool chill spot.

The Nuna Leaf is a good birth to young child age seat that doesn’t take up much room and is very minimalistic in a classy, modern way. Here’s a quick break down:


  • No batteries! It runs simply with kinetic energy and your child’s weight
  • Soft, washable, organic cotton cover and seat pad that come in a variety of colors including Navy, Bisque, Twilight, Grape, and Dawn
  • Locking mechanism if your baby does not want to sway
  • Grows with your child and can accommodate up to 130 lbs
  • Optional accessory toy bar


  • It is a pricey piece of baby gear retailing around $220, with the optional toy bar accessory retailing around $35
  • The safety harness is a very strong Velcro, which is pretty noisy and could easily wake a baby should you need to remove them while sleeping

Big enough for two!

No monetary compensation was provided from Nuna for this review, and the opinions stated are entirely my own. The Nuna Leaf retails for $219.95 and is available for purchase through Amazon.com. Thank you to Nuna for providing the LEAF for review.  No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.

Placing Blame

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.41.56 PMMy somewhat extreme fear of death is one of the main reasons I got involved in child passenger safety many years ago. Perhaps your reasoning is similar. It’s impossible to discuss why we do this without expressing a desire to prevent injury and, of course, death. 

I spend a lot of time discussing car seats on social media (Facebook and message boards like car-seat.org), and quite often, someone will post a story about a child who was critically hurt or killed in a car crash. That leads to the inevitable discussion about how the child was restrained. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we speculate, but the sense I get from these posts is that people are always quietly shaking their heads and thinking the parents could have or should have done better. 

Sometimes that’s true. There are cases of gross neglect, where a drunk parent drives around with a completely unrestrained kid, and bad things happen. Other times, a caring parent makes the same inadvertent mistakes we technicians see every day: a seat was installed too loosely, perhaps, or the harness wasn’t buckled properly. Maybe a parent turned a child forward-facing “too soon” (which I put in quotes since the legal requirements are different than the suggested requirements, and it’s hard to fault a parent for doing something within their rights).

Given the rate of misuse—which varies from 75% to 90% depending on what stats you look at—it is likely that almost every child involved in a crash could have been restrained better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the misuse caused the injuries. It’s also sometimes impossible to determine misuse after the fact. In a severe (or even moderate) crash, seatbelts and LATCH straps can stretch and seats can shift. Although possibly somewhat irrational, one of my worst fears is getting in a crash with my kids, and an uneducated officer making a statement about how my children were improperly restrained simply because they see something they’ve never seen before. A rear-tethered Britax? A Coccoro with European belt routing? A rear-facing 3-year-old? Those could easily be seen as misuse by someone unfamiliar with certain seats or best practice.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.42.14 PMI find threads about serious crashes interesting but largely uncomfortable due to the implied (and sometimes overt) contempt that is shown for many of the parents involved. Yes, perhaps the child would still be alive or uninjured if things had been done differently, but acting sanctimonious about how much better “we” do things doesn’t win anyone over. We wind up being Monday-morning quarterbacks to someone else’s tragedy, and that feels wrong.

At the same time, I understand why it happens. We’re all terrified of losing our kids, and as long as we do things differently, our kids will be ok. Except that there are no guarantees. Yes, properly restraining a child reduces the likelihood of injury or death, but nothing can eliminate it. It’s hard facing the reality that there are some things we just can’t control, which leads us to grasp so tightly to the things we can.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t discuss tragic collisions. It helps us learn, it helps us educate, and sometimes it helps us cope. But we need to make sure we don’t jump to conclusions or place unnecessary blame. When we discuss crashes, we should think and speak with compassion, not contempt. Saying “I told you so” won’t bring back a child and won’t save our own.