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The new Britax Boulevard CS

It didn’t make it to the Kidz In Motion Conference, but it’s now in production!  I evaluated a pre-production model of the Britax Boulevard CS recently and found it to be a very clever feature addition.  Basically, the mechanism senses when the tension you put on the harness adjustment strap is meeting resistance from the child.  As you give a solid pull, it gives a distinct tactile and audible [double] click when the harness is adjusted to an acceptable point.  It’s really that simple.

I am going to wait to make a final opinion until I have a production model, hopefully by the end of the month, but my overall impression was positive.  I will say that it is not foolproof.  For example, it can be fooled by thick winter coats, just as a parent can be fooled.  The manual clearly mentions thick clothing is a concern, as it is in every child restraint.  It’s also possible to have the harness tight enough, even though you haven’t yet heard the click (or maybe you released your pull just a bit too soon).  Parents, advocates and technicians who are familiar with adjusting a 5-point harness correctly may find this to be mostly a gimmick, though still a pretty cool one.   On the other hand, for many parents and caregivers who often leave the harness too loose, I found it to be a very quick and simple way to get a good adjustment of the harness the vast majority of the time.  If you pass your seat to a relative, babysitter or daycare, it’s also a simple way to make sure they get it right when you aren’t there!

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KIM–I’m Here!

The first day at the Kidz in Motion conference was an interesting one.  It was a mixture of seeing old faces from Lifesavers and new ones, either because they never made it to Lifesavers or because they got lost in the shuffle of Lifesavers.  KIM is a much smaller conference.  Manufacturers represented so far are Chicco, Evenflo, Graco, SafeGuard, and Sunshine Kids.

To start off the conference, Marilyn Bull presented her study from last year on rear-facing for best protection.  The researchers took children ages 0-23 months from 1988-2003 from the NASS-CDS database of fatal and nonfatal crashes and looked at the risk of injury for rear-facing vs. forward-facing.  What was found is that a 1 year old is 6 times less likely to die if s/he is rear-facing.  They did find in the study that rear-facing provides a significant benefit in side impacts since the head remains protected within the shell of the car seat. 

Need a Tether for Your Toyota?

GM, Ford, and Chrysler have had programs to reimburse dealers to provide a free top tether anchor retrofit in many vehices made in the 1980s and 1990s, until top tethers became standard. While some dealers didn’t know about these programs (or even tried to get the customer to pay anyway), it was still a great program and well-known to many child passenger safety technicians. In turn, we would give the information to parents who could use these retrofit kits in their vehicles.

Unfortunately, such free retrofits are not available on many other makes. While the parts exist, the kits can often cost $10 online or even more at a local dealer. Adding to that, many dealers will charge you a minimum half hour of labor and the total can be $40 or $50 or higher:-(

Enter SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. In a partnership with Toyota, SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. can provide a certificate for a parts kit and installation at a local Toyota or Lexus dealership!

KIM or Bust!

Welcome to the “new” CarseatBlog.Com!  We hope to be making far more frequent updates than we have over the last year or two.  In particular, we hope to focus on new products, product reviews, conferences and recent media.  To start it off, Heather (murphydog77) and I are off to one of the annual conferences about child passenger safety.

My family’s excellent adventure to KIM, the Kidz In Motion National Child Passenger Safety Conference, got off to an easier-than-expected start yesterday.  We have never taken our entire crew of three kids on an airplane trip before; all of our previous vacations were in the family truckster.  We almost drove this one, too, but vacation time was limited and blowing 4 days on driving wouldn’t have left much for sight seeing.  There were also visions of this.  So, we opted to fly Southwest there as rates had actually dropped since I priced them early this year.  With my 3-year old’s fascination with trains, we decided to splurge and book a family cabin in the Amtrak California Zephyr on the way back.

Of course, I was trying to figure out what to do for child seats…

Britax Frontier Review

Introduction

This review is for the Britax Frontier (now replaced by the Britax Frontier 85, please see our new review here). This is a “Harness-2Booster” or combination (combo) forward-facing child restraint and belt-positioning booster seat. Using the harness forward-facing, it is for children over 2 years, weight from 25 to 80 pounds and from 30 to 53 inches tall. As a booster, it is rated for children starting at a minimum of 40 pounds and 42 to 60 inches tall. In booster mode, there is no official maximum weight limit. If a child can otherwise meet the height limits and be properly positioned, it is possible to exceed 100 pounds for booster use.