Author Archive

Preview of Clek’s Newest Addition: the Liing

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Clek officially unveiled their new rear-facing only infant seat, the Liing, at the 2018 ABC Kids Show after teasing us for a loong time and it was worth it.

Overview
  • 4-35 lbs.
  • under 32″
  • 17″ wide at handle
  • preordering at end of October for shipping in early 2019
  • $399 US/$499 Canada

The Liing installs with rigid LATCH or seat belt and has a load leg for crash force reduction. Both the rigid LATCH connectors and load leg have red/green indicators to show you when you have achieved proper installation.

If you can’t install with the rigid LATCH or want to use the seat belt instead (you won’t be able to use both at the same time, as you are with the Foonf), the lockoff is a true lockoff so you don’t have to worry about locking the shoulder belt retractor at all.

 

After you’ve installed the base securely, you adjust the angle of recline to one of 7 positions. It has a 15° range so it will fit in a variety of vehicles and allow newborns to keep their airways open easily.

Euro belt path anyone? The Clek blue pod-shaped lap belt guides on the outside of the carrier give easy access as does the blue shoulder belt clip on the back of the carrier.

The humongous canopy is customizable and starts off as a typical canopy going just past the handle. Unzip that baby and it clamshells to a bit more than ¾ closed. There’s a peek-a-boo mesh window up by the baby’s head too.

The padding is luxurious. The seat is lined with EPP foam while the cover has other energy-absorbing foams incorporated into it.

To help keep weight down on the carrier, the release mechanism is on the base and is an easy 2-step button-pushing process accomplished with one hand. Since Clek isn’t a stroller company, they’ve made the carrier compatible with Maxi-Cosi adapters to fit most stroller brands. Bonus is that it’s a one-handed release pull from the stroller!

We have more information straight from Clek in our video:

Belt-Positioning Boosters with LATCH

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail
2018 Booster Seats with Lower LATCH Connectors

Are you looking for a dedicated belt-positioning booster with lower LATCH connectors? When you are a brand-new parent, LATCH is one of the carseat features you treasure most. It’s drilled into you that you must use LATCH to install your carseat. As you become a more seasoned parent and learn the ropes, you learn that LATCH is really a convenience feature and has its own set of rules that may preclude its use, like weight limits, being unable to use LATCH and the seat belt to install a carseat, and being unable to use it in the center of the back seat in many vehicles. But, there are many scenarios in which you can use LATCH.

Did you know that some booster seats have LATCH? It’s true! Perhaps that’s confusing to you because of those LATCH weight limits—booster seats are for higher weight kids, after all—or because you can’t install a carseat with both LATCH and the seat belt. Well, you’re right. Let me explain how it all applies to booster seats.

  

Once a child is using a booster seat, the seat belt is restraining the child. The lower LATCH connectors are only holding the weight of the booster seat. They are considered a convenience feature so that the booster doesn’t become a projectile in a sudden stop or crash when the child isn’t riding in the vehicle (always read the manual because at least one manufacturer (Chicco) requires the booster to be buckled as well as LATCHed when the seat is not being used). Having the booster “installed” also makes it easier for the child to climb in and buckle up because the booster stays in place. Just because the booster has lower LATCH connectors doesn’t mean you must use them; you can put the connectors in their storage area and use the booster seat as you would any other booster that doesn’t have the feature.

Along with reading the booster seat owner’s manual, read your vehicle owner’s manual. At least one manufacturer (Tesla) doesn’t allow boosters to be installed with LATCH, though installing harnessed carseats with LATCH is approved.

What about Combination Seats?

Combination carseats are harnessed seats that convert to belt-positioning booster seats (sometimes called harnessed boosters or harness-to-booster seats). While some combo seats are able to be installed with their LATCH connectors when converted to a booster (check the owner’s manual in the booster section), I’m talking strictly about dedicated belt-positioning boosters here.

Is LATCHing a Booster Safe in a Crash?

Well, it’s complicated. There have been very few studies done on using LATCH with boosters. Rigid LATCH, shown in the pic to the right, keeps the booster tightly coupled to the vehicle and has demonstrated improved outcomes for dummies in side impacts, though flexible strap LATCH (the kind you find on most carseats) may provide better performance in terms of keeping the seat belt in place on the dummy. And it comes down to dummies not acting like human bodies—did I mention it was complicated?

Does this all translate to increased injury? Other passengers in the back seat help mitigate injury, where the impact occurs, and safety features of the vehicle all play a role. What we do know is there needs to be more research done because it’s still relatively new with few boosters having LATCH as a feature. As the research is conducted, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.

The most important thing, whether or not you use a LATCHable booster or not, is to use a booster until your child can pass all 5 steps of the 5-Step test. By doing so, you lower your child’s risk of injury by 45% in a crash.

List of LATCHable Boosters​

Belt-Positioning Booster Name

MSRP

Britax Highpoint

$149.99

Britax Midpoint

$119.99

Britax Skyline

$99.99

Chicco KidFit

$99.99

Chicco KidFit Zip

$129.99

Clek Oobr

$299.99

Clek Olli

$99.99

Clek Ozzi

Clek Ozzi

$74.99

Diono Cambria

$79.99

Diono Monterey XT

$99.99

Graco AFFIX highback and backless

$79.99

Graco TurboBooster LX highback and backless

$79.99

Harmony Big Boost Deluxe

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix

$249.99

Nuna AACE

$199.95

Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120

$299.99

Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle

$119.99

Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Plus

$279.99

Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120

$199.99

Updated 9/20/18

 

Harness and Belt Fit: When Not to Worry

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail
Should You Really Be Concerned about Harness and Seat Belt Geometry?

A common question parents ask is whether or not the buckle should be sitting so high on their child after he’s buckled in the carseat. Caregivers may have heard that the buckle should fit low on the hips, like a seat belt, or have seen that the harness fits their child differently than their friend’s child who rides in a different carseat.

The simple answer is that harness geometry differs by manufacturer and may even differ within that manufacturer’s line. The lap portion of the harness may ride higher on your child’s belly in your rear-facing infant seat whereas it sits lower across his thighs when he rides in his convertible seat made by the same manufacturer. Any insert that comes with the carseat will also affect whether the straps cross your child’s thighs or his hips.

    

The harness may also sit quite differently on a newborn than it does on a larger child because a newborn has skinnier legs. Manufacturers certify their carseats to fit a wide range of weights and all children are proportionally built differently.

The harness also serves several purposes: it restrains a child in a crash, contacts the strongest parts of the body (the bones), spreads out the crash forces over a large part of the body, helps the body ride down crash forces, and protects the head, neck, and spinal cord. The direction the carseat faces plays a role too; a buckle sitting high on a child’s belly plays less of an injury role on a rear-facing carseat because the carseat itself is bearing the brunt of the crash force as are the shoulder straps.

One feature being provided by manufacturers that can greatly change the way the harness sits on your child’s legs is crotch strap length adjustment. Clek’s innovative way of adjusting crotch strap length is to provide two straps of different lengths on one buckle (see pics below). Baby Trend infant seats have adjustable crotch straps and require the buckle latches to be ½”-1″ from the baby’s thighs. Other manufacturers allow the crotch strap to be routed back through the outside slot, which greatly reduces the length and brings the harness down on the thighs.

  

The one place where harness fit counts is in the shoulder slot height. When your child is rear-facing, the straps must be at or below her shoulders. Why? The majority of crashes are frontal crashes and in all crashes, everything, including your child, will move toward the point of impact. Your rear-facing carseat will dip down and allow your child to slide up the seat. If the harness is positioned above her shoulders, she’ll slide up until she reaches the harness. Then on rebound—after the crash happens and everything that moved toward the impact comes back and settles—your child will slide back down in her seat. That’s a lot of movement and potential for injury, so keeping her down in her seat in the first place is important.

When forward-facing, you want the straps to be at or above her shoulders to hold her back in a crash. The carseat will again move down and toward the front of the vehicle. If the slots used are below her shoulders, possible spinal compression can occur as she’s held down and her shoulders roll forward.

  

So, for harness use, as long as the shoulder slots are properly positioned, everything else is good (as an end-user, you can’t really redesign where the lap straps are coming out of the carseat anyway). What about belt-positioning boosters and seat belts? Doesn’t using a belt-positioning booster automatically mean proper seat belt positioning?

No.

With boosters, you want the lap portion of the seat belt to fit low on the hips, touching the thighs—and there’s quite a range of what that means. Clothing can get in the way of seeing where the belt actually lies on the lap, so when assessing lap belt fit, it’s good for the child to be wearing snug-fitting clothing. The shoulder belt should be squarely on the shoulder—closer to the neck than the edge of the arm where it may slide off. It should also be noted here that since your child won’t always be wearing snug-fitting clothing, when she’s wearing jeans or other bulky clothing, she should be taught to pull the lap belt snug and low on her hips after buckling.

Younger children tend to have narrow torsos, so getting proper shoulder belt fit on them is more difficult because there’s no room for the seat belt. For a narrow kid like this, it’s better to have the shoulder belt closer to the neck—but not over the throat—so that in a crash, the child can’t slip out of the shoulder belt. Adjusting the headrest up on the booster sets the shoulder belt closer to the neck. The child below shows that she’s too small for a backless booster; she should ideally be in a harnessed seat or at the very least a highback booster so the shoulder belt is positioned better on her. A shoulder belt positioner attached to a backless booster can help too, but not as well as a highback booster. The seat belt is also not adjusted securely on her.

The lap belt portion of the seat belt should be touching or partially laying on the thighs. It can be too far forward on the thighs, which can lead to sliding (submarining) under the seat belt in a crash, and of course, it can sit too high on the soft belly, where injury to internal organs can occur in a crash.

 

Of course we can’t forget about the big kids who fit into seat belts. How do you know if your child is big enough to fit into a seat belt without needing a booster seat? There’s an easy test, called the 5-Step Test which allows you to tell if your kid still needs a booster.

5-Step Test
  1. Does the child sit all the way back on the vehicle seat?
  2. Are his knees bent comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat?
  3. Does the seat belt cross the shoulder properly on the center of the collar bone?
  4. Is the lap belt low, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay this way for the entire ride?

Vehicle seat belts are designed to fit adult males, not children. It’s not safe for them to sit in one unless it fits them well; they’re at risk for seat belt syndrome, serious head injuries, broken bones, and death. Most kids won’t fit in a seat belt without a booster until around ages 11-12.

Britax Skyline Highback Belt-Positioning Booster

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

2018 Britax Skyline Highback Belt-Positioning Booster Review

In an effort to make more affordable and accessible products, earlier this year Britax introduced its Essentials by Britax line of carseats. However, they found that the buying market still found the Britax name to be the big draw, so they dropped the “Essentials by” part so that will slowly fade into the past. The base model belt-positioning booster for Britax is called the Skyline and is based on the Britax Highpoint booster seat, but with fewer features and a smaller price tag to show for it. A review on the Britax Highpoint can be found here, and here’s a top-down pic to show the basic differences between the two seats (Skyline is black, Highpoint is blue).

Britax has a mid-level booster, called the Midpoint, that does not have side impact cushions but does have unique breathable fabric and the SecureGuard™ Belt Positioning Clip.

Weight and Height Limits

40-120 lbs.; 38-63”

Skyline Overview
  • 10 position headrest
  • Can be installed with lower LATCH connectors
  • Lined with EPP foam
  • Two removable, dishwasher-safe cup holders
  • MSRP $99
Measurements

Belt guide heights: 15 ¾”-23”
Inside shoulder width: 14”
Inside hip width: 11 ½”
Seat depth: 14”
External widest point: 19 ¼”
Seat weight: 12.1 lbs.

For more measurements, see our comparison database.

 

There are 2 fashions available, Dusk and Teal. Since this is Britax’s more affordable line, you’ll be able to find these boosters at stores like Target and Wal-Mart, and at local Brixy retailers as well.

The only assembly required for the Skyline is adding the cup holders, if desired. The booster comes out of the box in once piece and cannot be used backless, so there is no putting the back onto the bottom piece. The bonus to this is that it stays together when you carry it!

Fit to Child

Seat belt fit is very good; lap belt fit is aided by thick armrests that push the lap belt forward onto the thighs. Shoulder belt fit is adjusted by squeezing a handle on the back of the headrest and lifting up or pushing down. The Skyline is one of the tallest on the market, so it will be a good option for kids with tall torsos. Be sure to adjust the headrest so that the shoulder belt guides are above your child’s shoulders and his ears are inside the headrest. The label just above the shoulder belt guide helps you with placement. My model liked the Skyline and found it comfy. S is 5.5 years old, 40 lbs., and 44″ tall.

  

Fit to Vehicle

Check your vehicle owner’s manual to see if you can install the booster using the lower LATCH connectors. This is an optional feature that keeps the booster in place when the child is not in the seat; otherwise, the child should buckle the booster in when getting out of it so it doesn’t become a projectile in a crash.

Center LATCH installations with Non-Standard Spacing:

Permitted only in designated LATCH positions

Inflatable Seat Belts:

Not allowed

Cover/Maintenance/Ease of Use

Essentials by Britax suggests hand washing the cover and hanging it to dry. It is fairly easy to remove and has a couple of elastics.

FAA/Lifespan/Crash

Because belt-positioning booster seats require the use of lap/shoulder belts, the Skyline cannot be used on an airplane.

The Skyline has a lifespan of 10 years. Britax follows NHTSA crash guidelines for replacement after a crash.

Advantages
  • 10 position headrest
  • Can be installed with lower LATCH connectors
  • Lined with EPP foam
  • Two removable, dishwasher-safe cup holders
  • Less expensive than the similar Britax Highpoint
  • Narrower by about 1.5″ than the Britax Highpoint because it lacks the side impact cushions at the shoulders
Disadvantages
  • Made in China
  • Does not convert to backless booster

Despite not converting to a backless booster, the Skyline scores as one of the tallest highback boosters on the market. It is less expensive than the Highpoint, but it also lacks the SecureGuard lap belt clip that helps some kids stay in position when transitioning from a harnessed seat. Not having the side impact cushions on the outside of the shoulder area means that it’s narrower than the Britax Highpoint, but the downside is the loss of a safety feature. When comparing boosters, though, it’s definitely worth consideration.

The Skyline sample used in this review was provided by Essentials by Britax. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own.

This post and others at CarseatBlog contain affiliate links. Please read About CarseatBlog for our affiliate policy and see our Marketing Disclosure.