Safety Archive

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

 

Rear-facing is no longer 5x safer. Really?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

You may have heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated their recommendations on rear-facing. As usual, there’s some good news and some bad news. As with our carseat reviews, we will discuss both the good and the not-so-good and try to offer some perspective lacking in national news coverage of this update.

The Good News: The basic recommendation for rear-facing has NOT changed. “The Academy continues to recommend that all children ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, up to the manufacturer’s stated weight and length limits.” This updated guidance from the AAP now better matches NHTSA’s policy for consistency in messaging. The authors of CarseatBlog have strongly supported Extended Rear-Facing (ERF) for over 15 years and continue to support this practice.

ERF in 2003 – now off to college!

The Bad News: As we reported a year ago, a major study from 2007 was found to be flawed. This study was the main source of injury data to compare rear-facing child restraint systems (RFCRS) to forward-facing child restraints (FFCRS) in the USA, for children up to 23 months old. It was also the basis for the erroneous ‘Rear-facing is 5x safer’ statistic. Newer research found some contradictory data, causing the original study to be retracted. A revised study, by some of the authors of the original 2007 study, concluded, “Non-US field data and laboratory tests support the recommendation that children be kept in RFCRS for as long as possible, but the US NASS-CDS field data are too limited to serve as a strong statistical basis for these recommendations.” This led to the evolving AAP advice that, “…while the trend was for rear-facing to be superior to forward-facing for children under 2 years, the numbers were too low to reach statistical significance.” Definitely not as compelling as 5x safer.

More Good News:  The reason there is no significant real-world information is because the sample size of injuries to children in car seats is so low during the 22 year study period that there simply isn’t enough data to compare rear-facing to forward-facing conclusively. In fact, all these studies included less than severe injuries just to do an analysis, because there are so few data points for severe/fatal injuries to kids in child restraints. According to the revised study, “NASS-CDS data indicate an extremely low injury rate in children up to 2 years of age in both RFCRS and FFCRS. It turns out that both rear-facing and forward-facing car seats do a very good job of protecting children within the relevant age/weight/height limits!

Because the real-world injury data in the USA no longer supports that rear-facing is significantly safer for kids up to 23 months old, the AAP removed the portion of their policy statement recommending that kids remain rear-facing until at least 2 years old. Also, since the original study is retracted, we have to pretend that it never existed. Therefore, we can no longer claim that rear-facing is proven to be five times safer than forward-facing. We can’t even say that statistics prove that rear-facing reduces the real-world risk of serious injury for kids up to 2 years old [or to any age] in the USA.  On the plus side, the 2011 AAP policy on rear-facing to at least age 2 led to a lot of awareness about the safety advantages of rear-facing.

Let’s take a step back and examine the most recent AAP policy statements to put these minimum age recommendations in perspective. Fundamentally, the policies on rear-facing haven’t changed, except for the inclusion of minimums. For over 15 years, the AAP has continued to recommend that kids remain rear-facing to the limits of their car safety seat. In essence, “as long as possible.”

AAP 2018: All 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.

AAP 2011: All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.

AAP 2002: Children should face the rear of the vehicle until they are at least one year of age and weigh at least 20 lb. Infants younger than one year who weigh 20 lb should still face the back of the car in a convertible seat or one that is approved for higher weights. For optimal protection, the child should remain facing the rear of the car until reaching the maximum weight for the car safety seat, as long as the top of the child’s head is below the top of the seat back.

Clearly, this is not the end for extended rear-facing. The retraction of the main study supporting ERF in the USA is indeed a big loss, but not a total surprise because this study had known flaws long before this retraction. Again, the fundamental guidance HAS NOT CHANGED. We still recommend kids remain rear-facing, preferably for 2 years or longer if they are within the rear-facing height and weight limits of their carseat. In particular, parents should pay close attention to the seated torso height limit of the rear-facing seat (which typically requires 1″ or more of shell above the head).

As always, we like to remind parents that these recommendations from the AAP are safest practice guidelinesThey aren’t rules or laws. The rules a parent must follow are those printed in their car seat and vehicle owners manuals, on the car seat labels and in any relevant state law. CarseatBlog endorses the AAP guidelines for added safety. We also like to offer perspective by looking at the BIG picture. The biggest reductions in risk come from the following simple steps:

  1. Drive unimpaired and undistracted
  2. Keep all passengers properly restrained according to the instruction manuals and state law
  3. Kids under 13 years in an appropriate rear seating position

So please, buckle up and drive safely!

See our Rear-Facing Links Guide for additional information.

2018 Revised American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Policy – Child Passenger Safety Best Practice Recommendations

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Updated Recommendations for Children in Carseats and Boosters

A revised policy statement on Child Passenger Safety from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) was released today. The most significant change is the removal of the age 2 minimum recommendation for forward-facing.  The updated policy keeps the basic wording to recommend that children remain rear-facing until they reach the maximum weight or height allowances of their carseat. This revision aligns AAP’s policy with NHTSA’s current recommendations which also suggest using your carseat to the limits before transitioning to the next stage/category of seats.

 

The table below outlines the updated Best Practice Recommendations from the AAP.

The policy revision is a direct result of the retraction of the 2007 Henary study which we now know was flawed. Unfortunately at this moment, we do not have enough data to definitively say how much safer rear-facing is compared with forward-facing. Also we can no longer point to a specific age at which to make the transition from rear-facing to forward-facing. We acknowledge that this revision will cause some confusion to parents and caregivers who have previously been told that the AAP recommendation was to rear-face to a minimum of 2 years. Currently there are 11 states with laws that mandate rear-facing to age 2, and there are also carseats on the market which also mandate a 2-year age minimum for forward-facing. If you live in a state that requires rear-facing to age 2, or if you own a product with a 2-year age minimum for forward-facing then you must follow the guidance of your state laws and/or your manufacturer’s instructions.

The AAP used a data-driven approach in revising this policy. In the absence of statistically significant field data to support the previous rear-facing to age 2 recommendation, they felt it was necessary to update their current policy.

We understand that evolving information can be hard sometimes and the lack of good data is frustrating. On the bright side, the reason that we don’t have enough data on kids being injured in carseats, rear-facing or forward-facing, is because carseats are doing a great job of protecting children in crashes. We encourage researchers and manufacturers to continue important research on this and a variety of other subjects that relate to child passenger safety. Here at CarseatBlog we will continue to focus our efforts on educating parents and caregivers on proper usage of carseats and boosters.

How far is too far?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

I understand that we’re all passionate about safety. And at some point or another, most of us have had to deal with criticism from friends or family members who think we’ve taken this whole car safety thing too far and just gone right off the deep end. Usually, we just brush off these ignorant remarks because deep in our hearts we know that we’re right and obviously they just don’t get it. We’re aware of the fact that MVC’s are a leading cause of death to children in the U.S. and we’re all determined to protect our children to the best of our abilities. That’s our job as parents and caregivers and we all take that responsibility very seriously. I understand that, I really do – because I’m right there with ya.

But how are we to know if we’ve really gone too far? Certainly, our safety-addicted friends at the car-seat.org forum would never stage an intervention on our behalf. And our spouse would probably rather walk across hot coals than incur our wrath by suggesting that maybe, just maybe, we’re being a bit too extreme.

So, who’s gonna give it to ya straight and tell you when it’s time to chillax? Who’s going to remind you that you can’t save the world and completely eradicate all injuries to all children in MVCs – no matter how desperately you want to? Who’s gonna tell you when it’s time to step away from that vehicle in the Walmart parking lot because clearly you’re not dealing with an appreciative and open-minded victim?

I will.

However, the first step to getting help is to admit that you have a problem. Don’t think you have a problem? Get in line. And while you’re there – take our short survey:

1. Do you find yourself repeatedly trying to talk your sister-in-law into buying a Graco Extend2Fit to rear-face your tiny 7-year-old niece?

2. When you go grocery shopping do you spend 20 minutes thinking about the most appropriate way to secure those projectiles for the ride home?

3.  Have you purchased more carseats for other people’s kids than you have for your own children?

4.  Have you ever considered gluing sheets of EPS foam to the rear windows of a vehicle that doesn’t have side curtain airbags?

5.  Do you lose sleep thinking about your neighbor’s child who is 5 years old and rides in a backless booster?

6.  Do you respond “ABSOLUTELY”, when someone posts an online poll asking whether you would put a small, immature 13-year-old back into a 5-point harness?

7.  Have you ever refused to ride the monorail at WDW because you considered it too risky?

8.  Do you have anxiety attacks when you see properly restrained forward-facing 2-year-olds?

9.  Do you always remember to secure your purse with an available safety belt?

10.  On Halloween, do you hand out copies of the 5-Step Test flyer instead of candy? (If you hand out the flyer WITH candy – that doesn’t count as a yes.)

If you answered yes to more than 1 question above – please do yourself a favor and go volunteer some of your time at carseat check events in the lowest, low-income inner-city area you can find within driving distance.  If you don’t have any impoverished inner-city areas within driving distance, then a rural, migrant farm worker community will suffice.  All kidding aside, these are the types of places where your knowledge, passion, and dedication to Child Passenger Safety are desperately needed.  And seeing the frightening reality of how these children ride around every day will really help you to appreciate the beautiful sight of a properly restrained, albeit forward-facing, 2-year-old.  Everything in life is relative and a healthy perspective will keep you focused on the bigger picture – and help you avoid going off the deep end in the process.

~Kecia