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Mythbusters: Your Pediatrician is a Car Seat Expert

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It’s been a while since any myths have been busted around here and I think that it’s about time we get back to setting the records straight. This is one that is of particular interest to me because I have a stake in both sides of the issue.

Myth: Your Pediatrician has been educated in child passenger safety and is the best source of information on when to turn your child forward-facing or stop using a booster.

In the many years that I’ve been involved in the child passenger safety field, one of the most common reasons I’ve heard for turning children to forward face too soon or to switch them out of a car seat altogether is “my pediatrician said it was fine.” So I thought maybe it would be good to look at whether a pediatrician is a good source of car seat information. Now, let’s be clear, I love pediatricians. I married a pediatrician. I don’t want, for even an instant, to imply that physicians are anything other than extraordinary human beings. I just want to delve into whether our pediatricians are good sources of information on car seat safety.

First, let’s look at medical school education. The first 2 years of medical school are spent in classrooms listening to lectures, memorizing information and taking absurdly difficult tests. The second 2 years are where med students do rotations in clinics and hospitals and look really scared a lot (I kid, I kid).

The curriculum in the first two years includes: gross anatomy, developmental anatomy, radiographic anatomy, histology, biochemistry, genetics, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, immunology, pharmacology, ethics, nutrition and often an elective or two. Looking closely at that list, while they are learning about a lot of the principles that our car seat knowledge and decisions are based upon, there’s not any actual education on car seats in medical school.

So maybe residency then?

A general pediatrics residency lasts 3 years and includes insanely long hours and a lot of very hard work. These 3 years are divided into hospital and clinic-based work where most learning is done through hands-on experience and then hours of journal and text reviewing at home. During a pediatrics residency, the resident will spend weeks/months in most major specialties including (but not limited to) pediatric neurology, immunology, pulmonology, cardiology, intensive care, gastroenterology, etc.

The American Board of Pediatrics does provide a single line about car seats in the learning specifications for pediatric residents. It states that they should be able to “recommend appropriate car restraint systems, including car seats, based on age and weight of the child, including those appropriate for premature infants.” It should be noted that this is a single line in an 80-page document of learning objectives, so while it’s there, it’s not a significant portion of the education of a resident.

I think it’s also important to note that outside of CPST training, there really isn’t a class that residents can take to learn about this. There typically aren’t talks about it at conferences or other frequent opportunities to be educated about it, so many times these physicians are looking at the exact same sources that parents are. I know that my husband never received any training in car seats in his residency and that my research on car seats was essentially the first he had ever heard about rear-facing beyond infancy. While child passenger safety is undeniably important for pediatricians and their patients, it is not medicine and it’s understandably not their area of focus.

Notably, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) does have an updated policy statement on car seat usage, which is pretty much what your pediatrician should be telling you about car seats, if anything. The most recent revision, from 2018, states:

“Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their CSS’s manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will permit children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more. Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their CSS should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their CSS’s manufacturer. Children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 ft 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.”

CONFIRMED, PLAUSIBLE OR BUSTED? With the exception of a few wonderful CPST pediatrician hybrids, this myth is BUSTED.

Pediatricians are hardworking, intelligent people and outstanding sources of information on myriad topics related to your child(ren), but when you need specific safest practice information on car seats and boosters, NHTSA, Safe Kids, this very website or a local CPS Technician are usually much better options.

 

2019 Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT Infant Carseat Review

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2019 Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT Infant Carseat Review

If you’ve driven around for any period of time, you have probably seen a sign on a car signaling that a baby is in the back seat. The most iconic of these, which also happens to be the original, is the yellow diamond Baby On Board sign by Safety 1st. Not only did this sign give birth to the rest of Safety 1st line, which has such a wide array of products that it can be found in the home of almost every family with an infant, but it’s also given its name to a new high quality, affordable infant seat- the Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT. Do not confuse this seat with the other Safety 1st onBoard infant seats on the market. The “LT” model is an entirely different seat with its own base – it is NOT compatible with the original onBoard or onBoard Air model bases.

Monument Juniper Pop Pebble Beach Niagara Mist

OnBoard 35 LT Height & Weight Limits:

  • Rear-facing only 4-35 pounds, 19-32 inches and child’s head is at least 1 inch below the top of the seat

OnBoard 35 LT Overview:

  • The onBoard 35 LT is one of the lightest rear-facing-only infant car seats with a smooth and comfortable carry handle
  • 4 harness heights to provide an excellent fit for a variety of different sized babies
  • 3 crotch strap/buckle positions with newborn routing to fit even small newborns
  • Newborn support inserts with separate head and body cushions
  • Cover is machine washable AND dryer safe!
  • FAA approved for use in aircraft
  • On CarseatBlog’s Recommended Infant Carseats for Preemies & Multiples
  • 8 year lifespan from date of manufacture before expiration

The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the seat were the labels. Safety 1st has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about and designing their labels and the outcome is great. Their labels are clear, concise and well placed and I could install and use the seat without ever cracking open the manual because of these labels (I’m not recommending this, but for those people who won’t read a manual regardless, this is great!). There’s even a label with a QR code so you can get information instantly on your phone. The onBoard 35 LT base has labels for where the belts go, as well as labels for baseless installation. I was generally impressed with the thoughtfulness Safety 1st clearly had when designing this component of their seat.

OnBoard 35 LT Measurements:

  • Harness slot heights: 5.5”-11.5”
  • Crotch strap/buckle positions: 3”, 4.5”, 6”
  • Internal shell height: 19.5”
  • Width of base: 15.5”
  • Length of base: 23.5”
  • Width of carrier at widest point: 17.25”
  • Carrier weight: 7.9 pounds

Grow With You ClickTight Combination Car Seat Review: The Next Frontier for Britax?

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2020 Britax Grow With You ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat Review

Britax undeniably has one of the strongest reputations in the car seat world and it’s one they’ve earned with dozens of outstanding seats. Britax is constantly pushing the boundaries of technology, with a keen eye on making their seats easier to use correctly than others in their field. And easier installation is the fastest way to a safer child when it comes to car seats. With this in mind, I was excited to get the opportunity to try out something new from Britax, the Grow With You ClickTight. It’s a bit of a reincarnation of the Frontier, it still has the patented ClickTight Installation that makes getting a good, snug install an absolute dream, but a little pared down, which necessarily isn’t a bad thing. With the Frontier no longer being made, the Grow With You stands to fill a pretty big void within the car seat world.

Grow With You ClickTight Specs:

Harness mode: 25-65 pounds AND 34-49”, minimum of 2 years of age

Booster mode: 40-120 pounds AND 44-63”

GWY CT Features:
  • Patented ClickTight installation technology
  • 9-position one hand no-rethread harness/headrest adjustment
  • 2 layers of side impact protection around the head and upper spine
  • SafeCell Impact Technology provides a crumple zone within the seat for crash energy absorption
  • Industrial-strength steel frame
  • 2 cup and snack holders
  • Patented V-shaped tether with “staged-release stitches” to help slow forward motion during a crash
  • Available from Amazon for $239.99

spark seaglass mulberry 

Britax has also introduced the Grow With You ClickTight Plus, which replaces the discontinued Pinnacle model. Besides having the same features as the GWY CT, the “Plus” model adds a third layer of side impact protection in the form of side impact cushions at the torso.

Measurements
  • Seat Width: 19.5” at the outside of the torso wings
  • Seat Height: 36” at highest headrest position
  • Seat Depth: 21”
  • Internal width at hips: 11.5”
  • Harness heights: 12” – 20” at 1-inch intervals*
  • Crotch buckle positions: 7” and 9”
  • Booster height positions: 13” – 21”
  • Seat weight: 26.5 lbs.

*On Britax’s website, they list the heights as a half-inch higher, both the lowest and the highest height. I measured and remeasured and just did not come up with those values. It may have to do with and measuring the heights with the cover off, but I opted to measure in the way that one would use a seat—with the padding and cover present. I did remove the torso padding to expose where the harness emerges from the shell.