Happy Child Passenger Safety Week, 2015


RibbonSeptember 13-19 is National Child Passenger Safety Week. Once again, CarseatBlog would like to thank technicians, car seat manufacturers, safety advocates, and parents for everything they do to keep kids safe in the car.

If you need your car seat checked, many organizations are holding events on Seat Check Saturday (September 19) or throughout the week. This is also a good time to share safety information with friends and family.

Key points to remember:

  • Keep children rear-facing until at least 2 years old.
  • Keep children in a harnessed seat until they fit properly in a booster seat and are mature enough to sit properly in the belt (usually a minimum of 5 years old).
  • Keep children in booster seats until they fit properly in an adult seatbelt. The seatbelt should sit low on the hips, touching the thighs. The shoulder belt should cross the middle of the shoulder, and the child’s knees should bend at the edge of the seat when s/he is sitting all the way back.
  • Children should ride in the back seat until at least 13 years old.
  • Wear your seatbelt, and put down the phone while driving. Kids learn from the adults around them.

Resources to find a local event or fitting station:

Safe Kids USA


Visit us on Facebook and feel free to use our Child Passenger Safety “ribbon” as your profile picture for the week (or longer!)

NHTSA Be Informed graphic


Hauck PROsafe35 Infant Carseat Review – Engineered in Germany; Designed for Modern American Families


hauckWe were first introduced to Hauck’s rear-facing-only infant seat at the ABC Expo in Las Vegas, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting its release ever since. Now the wait is over, and the Hauck PROsafe35 (and the similar iCoo iGuard 35) are available in the United States. Hauck is a German company that has been in business for over 90 years. They are an established manufacturer of juvenile products in Europe where they offer carseats, strollers, high chairs and portable cribs. The PROsafe35 is Hauck’s first foray into the US carseat market. Let’s see how it measures up!

PROsafe35 / iGuard 35 Specifications

  • Weight range: 4-35 lbs
  • Height limit: 32″ and at least 1″ of shell over the head
  • Harness heights: 5.5″, 7″, 9″, 11″ (all measured without infant insert)
  • Crotch buckle positions: 4″ and 6″
  • Interior shell height: 21″ (1″ of clearance would allow a child’s bum-to-head height of 20″)
  • Interior seating width: 9″ at bum, 11″ in shoulder area
  • Interior seating depth: 10″
  • Exterior width at handles: 19″
  • Exterior width at widest part of base: 14.5″
  • Exterior width at back of base: 13″
  • Weight of carrier: 10 lbs.


  • Seatbelt lock-off
  • Premium LATCH connectors
  • Two acceptable recline angles, one for babies under 22 lbs. and one for larger babies
  • Lots of EPP foam to help absorb energy and enhance side-impact protection in a crash
  • Innovative recline feature in the base
  • 5-position aluminum handle that offers an anti-rebound position
  • Reversible (“warm” and “cool”) infant insert for use with babies 4-22 lbs. (With foam wedge 4-11 lbs)

Installation/Fit to Vehicle

The most unique feature of the Hauck PROsafe35 is the innovative recline lever that also serves as the seatbelt lock-off. It’s very important to have an infant seat reclined to the proper angle, and most infant seat bases have some form of built-in recline mechanism. With many seats, though, you need to do a lot of fiddling. You set the base on the seat, but if it’s not at the correct angle, you have to move the base out of position and guess at how reclined to make it, then put it back in position, hoping you guessed correctly. If not, you have to remove the base again and keep guessing until you get it right.

The Hauck recline lever allows you to adjust the angle while the base sits right on the seat. You simply put the base where you want it and open the red lock-off mechanism. Then you push the larger portion of the lock-off toward the back of the vehicle seat and gently raise the base to let the recline foot drop. If you need to reduce the recline, just push the lever again while letting the base drop to the correct angle.

Because the lever doubles as a seatbelt lock-off, if you’re installing with a seatbelt you can tighten the belt and close the lock-off/recline handle as soon as you find the right angle. A seatbelt lock-off is always nice, especially in infant seat bases that can be prone to tipping when the shoulder belt is locked at the retractor. It also helps to guarantee that the seatbelt actually gets locked!

The video below demonstrates how the recline mechanism works.

The PROsafe features premium, push-on style LATCH connectors, which make for an easy installation and uninstallation. I’m a big fan of efficient, visible LATCH storage, and this seat delivers. The LATCH connectors store in the base, in their own little compartments under a small lid that also holds the user manual. (Normally the manual would store in the cubby, but I took it out so you could see the LATCH connectors.)

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Giveaway Spectacular ~ Blogiversary Celebration Finale!


This summer marked 7 full years of CarseatBlog.com! We can hardly believe it. In some ways it seems like not so long ago that we began blogging about carseats, child passenger safety and vehicle safety. And in other ways it feels like we’ve been doing this 4ever… Lol! Along the way we’ve shared a lot of laughs, made some amazing friends, written about 1,250 blog posts and oh, yeah – reviewed over 100 carseats and boosters!
Whether you’re new to CarseatBlog.com or have been with us since the start in 2008 – we’d like to share our celebration with you. You are the reason we’re still here 7 years later, still blogging away, always looking for ways to improve our content and better serve our readers.The field of Child Passenger Safety is just starting to heat up and we can’t wait to see all the awesome advances in safety, technology and innovation that the next 7 years is going to bring. We hope you stick around and enjoy the ride with us!

Graco 4Ever - Studio

As part of our Blogiversary Celebration Finale, we’ve partnered with our very generous sponsor, GRACO, to offer not one, not two but THREE spectacular new Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 carseats (one carseat for each of three separate winners)! Fashion choice will be limited to colors currently available through Graco Baby USA, winner should submit a preferred fashion and two alternate fashions.

We have a complete review here:  Graco 4EVER All-In-One Carseat Review: Your new BFF?

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Specs

  • Rear-facing 4-40 lbs
  • Forward facing 20-65 lbs with harness; 27″-52″ tall
  • Highback booster 30-100 lbs; 38″-52″ tall
  • Backless booster 40-120 lbs; 40″-57″ tall

This promotion is now closed. Thank you for participating ~ a winner will be announced soon.

Graco 4Ever Features

  • 4-in-1 seat grows with your child, so you can enjoy 10 years of use
  • 6-position recline adjust to fit and keep your growing child comfortable; it’s comfy for them and convenient for you
  • Simply Safe Adjust™ Harness System is safe & simple.
  • One-hand, 10-position head rest to give your growing child a proper fit
  • InRight™ LATCH system for an easy, one-second LATCH attachment
  • Side-impact tested* (*In addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable US safety standards, the Graco 4Ever car seat has been side impact tested for occupant retention solely with the built-in 5-point harness .)
  • Engineered & crash tested to meet or exceed US standard FMVSS 213
  • Washable seat cover is easy to remove without removing the harness
  • Steel-reinforced frame provides strength and durability
  • Integrated harness storage compartment holds unused harness straps while in the belt positioning booster mode
  • Features an easy-to-read level indicator for hassle-free installation
  • Plush inserts keep your child comfortable
  • EPS, energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management
  • 2 integrated cupholders keeps your child’s drinks close at hand

Graco 4ever - all modes stock

Graco 4Ever Giveaway:

  • To enter, you MUST reply to this blog and leave a comment below (only 1 entry per household).
  • For extra entries, be sure follow the Rafflecopter instructions to visit our Facebook page, visit the Graco Facebook page and tweet about the giveaway.
  • You also get additional entries for each time a friend enters our giveaway using the unique URL you receive from Rafflecopter when you enter. Share it for up to 10 additional entries!

Contest open to all residents of the USA, including those residing in Alaska and Hawaii. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will close on Sunday, 9/20, and three winners will be chosen within 72 hours. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

Now for the fine print (these may be in addition to the rules listed in the Rafflecopter terms): Winners must have a U.S. shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded per winner. Winners will have their choice of available Graco 4Ever fashions that are in stock at the time the promotion ends. You are not eligible if you have previously won a carseat or any sponsored giveaway at CarseatBlog.com during 2014 or 2015 (our own giveaways of goody bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned). Our blog writers and editors are also not eligible. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count. We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason. The contest will close on September 20, 2015, and three random winners will be chosen shortly thereafter.

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. It will not be lost; it may just take a few hours for it to be approved. Thank you for your understanding and patience as this is the only way we have to reduce comment spam.

Good luck!

Guest Blog: Are you a CPS Zealot? Or an Advocate with Zeal?


StarfishOne day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

This short parable nicely sums up how I feel about child passenger safety education.  After having been an Emergency Medical Technician and 911 Dispatcher for many years, and witnessing the sad aftermath of improperly or unrestrained children, I decided to become a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST).  Over the last 6 years since my certification, in my role as a full time civilian police department employee, as a tech offering private car seat checks, and an active volunteer with local CPS agencies, I’ve educated many, many parents in person, online and over the phone.

My goal has always been to appreciate each success, or “starfish”.  I know that I’ll never save every single one.   I’ve also learned I need to meet parents where they are and that success is subjective.  Making a child safER is a win in my book.  If I wasn’t able to convince a parent to switch their 18 month old back to rear-facing, but I was able to teach her to properly install the seat forward-facing, understand the importance of a top tether, snug up the harness to pass the pinch test, and when and how to move the harness straps up, then her child wins.  It may not be the safest choice, but it’s certainly a much safer one than a forward-facing but improperly installed and fitted seat.  And added to that is the knowledge that the parent knows I respect her choices, and that she will feel free to seek out future advice from me.  Every single one of those is a positive point.

This is how I educate and advocate for CPS on a daily basis. This is how most techs I know conduct themselves. Lately, though, with the advent of Facebook CPS groups, there’s been a shift.  Many CPS ‘advocates’ and newer, less seasoned CPSTs lacking real world experience, are educating in a ‘do or die’ way.  A CPST friend referred to this group as zealots, and this is a very accurate description.

Zealot PhotoThe CPS zealot believes that there are no exceptions.  The absolute maximum best practice must be followed at all times. If a driver can’t fit all of the children in rear seats, they must buy a new vehicle or stay home.  Caregivers must spend money they don’t have or can’t spare to buy longer-lasting seats if their child is under 4 and they’ve outgrown the rear-facing limit.   The parent of an 11-year old who can’t quite pass the 5-step test is forced to put them into a booster.  A zealot sees black and white, in a world where there are thousands of other shades of colors.  A zealot believes if they say it, you must do it.

Why is this a problem? Well, life is rarely ever black and white.  These zealots are fear-mongering, turning off parents to hearing what true CPS advocates like me and many of my respected colleagues have to share.  They push parents to get them to act in the way the zealot believes is the ONLY way. This is not advocacy.  It’s bullying.

Zeal PhotoI’d love to see the culture of zealots change.  From those who are fanatical and uncompromising, to advocates that approach instead with zeal. To be a positive role model. To be the person who parents want to come back to again and again with questions, because they feel unjudged and welcome.  To consider that if they are too reproachful with parents and caregivers, they might win a ‘battle’ perhaps, but the ultimate war will be lost.  Opportunities for education, and making children safer, will be closed to all of us with some parents. And that isn’t our goal.

I hope if you’re a zealot, you’ll read this and know that I understand where you’re coming from even if I abhor your approach.  I want to see all kids as safe as possible too.  I’m kept awake by the local news that another child was killed because she was unrestrained.  I become physically ill when I see a picture of a friend’s small child in an ill-fitting seat belt without a booster in my Facebook feed.  I’m frustrated when a parent HAS an appropriate seat that isn’t maxed out, but chooses not to continue to rear-face for reasons they can’t explain.  Some nights I do lie in my bed and cry because it seems like we are not getting anywhere. Beautiful babies are still dying.  I get it, truly I do.  But I know becoming a zealot won’t change those things.

Instead, I do my best to gain the trust and respect of all parents I come in contact with.  I accept that my job is to educate, and it’s a parents’ job to decide.  I give them the best option, and when that isn’t their choice, I give them every other possible option that leaves the child safER than they were when we started.  Little steps, sometimes.

One starfish at a time.  I know I won’t make a difference to all of them, but I know I surely helped ‘that one’.


Coleen Fitch is a stepmom and mom who developed her passion for keeping kids safe in the car during her many years in public safety.  She is a former EMT and 911 Dispatcher who,  for the past 9 years, has worked as a full-time civilian employee for local police in the Traffic Division.  She became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2009 and is the owner of Little Riders LLC, a child passenger safety education and installation service.  Coleen is a long-time contributor to the car-seat.org forums, and an active CPS advocate and volunteer in her community.  She lives in southern CT with her family and their dog Scooby.