Safety Archive

IIHS 2013 Booster Seat Ratings – Making Sense of the Best Bets, Check Fit & Not Recommended Ratings

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lap and shoulder belt fitPlease use these links to our updated IIHS 2014 Booster Seat Ratings Information:

CarseatBlog’s Coverage of the 2014 IIHS Booster Seat Ratings

2014 IIHS Booster Ratings Commentary

 

You will see it all over the news today and tomorrow. It will be on national morning shows, local news broadcasts, in newspapers and online. There will be a lot of good information, but there will also be the usual misinformation. Is your child as safe as possible just because you bought a booster that has a 2013 IIHS ”Best Bet” rating? Should you panic if you have one that is rated “Check Fit”? Does that mean it’s dangerous or unsafe?

Here at CarseatBlog, our job is to help guide you through the wonderful but overwhelming world of child occupant protection. Here you’ll get info and straight answers from experts in the field who are also parents, just like you. We’ve been around this block a few times already so allow us to help you sort through the mountains of information.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Winter Coat Suggestions for Kids in Carseats

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UPDATED: January 2018

Michelin-man-style snowsuits might be fine for sledding, but in the car, they can be dangerous. Too much bulk means that the harness won’t tighten properly against the child. In a crash, that extra bulk will compress, leaving a too-loose harness, and leaving the child inadequately protected.

So what can you do?

One option is to have your child take her coat off before she gets in the car. Then after she’s buckled, she can slip her arms into the backward coat.

But what if your kids don’t want to take off their jackets? No problem–just look for something car-seat-friendly.

What constitutes a good coat for the car seat?

Anything that doesn’t add a lot of extra compressible bulk to the child will do. That might be a sweater, fleece jacket, or a packable down jacket.

To see if your child’s outerwear is ok for the car, do the Jacket Slack Challenge:

  1. Put the jacket/coat on your child, put him in his seat, and tighten the harness.
  2. WITHOUT LOOSENING THE HARNESS, unbuckle your child and take him out.
  3. Take off the jacket, then put him back in the seat and re-buckle.

If there’s only a little bit of extra slack in the harness (or none at all), the jacket is good! If there’s a significant amount of slack, consider another option.

Winter Coat Infographic

Those two jackets look pretty similar, but you can see how different they really are. In the first photo, my daughter is wearing a Snozu jacket. Without the jacket, the harness had no slack. (In fact, before I took the picture my daughter had been in the seat with no jacket. I didn’t need to loosen the harness at all to buckle her with the jacket on.) The second coat is another story. It’s your typical winter coat, and honestly, it didn’t seem that bulky to me…until I took it off and re-buckled. Wow! There was a lot of slack in that harness!

If you’re looking for a car-seat-friendly winter coat that is safe for the car and warm enough for the playground, here are some good options to try:

Last year I got my daughter a Snozu jacket, pictured above. This particular jacket squished down into almost nothing, so it was perfect for the car. There is a similar Snozu jacket available at Costco this season, that has a thin layer of fleece inside, but still works well in the car. These jackets aren’t expensive either, which is a definite bonus! Just keep in mind that jacket styles can change from year to year. You should do the “Jacket Slack Challenge” with each new coat to ensure that it’s not introducing a dangerous amount of slack in your child’s car seat harness.

Parents at car-seat.org rave about the Patagonia Puffball.

Many have also said good things about the North Face Moondoggy.

Columbia makes a Power Lite Puffer jacket for boys and girls that is packable down.

LL Bean and The Gap both have PrimaLoft jackets that are very squishable.

These Lightweight Packable Jackets from Lands’ End also look like they would work well.

Another option is the Buckle Me Baby Coat which we recently reviewed. It’s a great alternative to a traditional jacket and allows you to close and snap the jacket over the secured harness. It’s an extra obstacle for those little Houdinis who like to play with their chest clip!

Besides working well in car seats, these options will also pack easily in a backpack or diaper bag when you don’t need them. Safe AND convenient!

What great car seat coats have you found?

 




Orbit Baby Recalls G2 Carseat Bases Made Between March 20, 2013 and July 20, 2013

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Orbit Baby G2 BaseOrbit Baby has issued a voluntary recall of the Orbit Baby Car Seat Base G2. This is a voluntary recall and there have been no reports of injuries. Orbit Baby is taking action out of  an abundance of caution and to ensure the highest standards of safety. This recall affects the G2 carseat base only. It does NOT affect Orbit Baby carseats/carriers, strollers, bassinets or rockers. This issue also does not affect the performance of any Orbit Baby car seats if the Car Seat Base G2 is securely installed in accordance with the instruction manual.

Repair kits will be available soon for all G2 base owners with batches affected by this recall. Customers that have registered a product affected by this recall will automatically receive a notice regarding this issue, as well as any safety updates or product notices in the future. Consumers who have not yet registered their product should contact Orbit Baby Customer Service at 1-877-672-2229 or visit www.orbitbaby.com/support/register to register their product.

In some instances, the StrongArm knob on the Car Seat Base may detach or spin without tightening the base, preventing the installation of the Car Seat Base in accordance with the instruction manual. The StrongArm technology is an installation feature that facilitates the “60-second” installation of the Car Seat Base by tightening the Car Seat Base into the vehicle. The Car Seat Bases that are affected by this recall were manufactured from March 2013 to July 2013 with one of the following Batch Numbers: A0840, A0860 or A0880. No other models are affected by this recall and the actual Car Seat itself can continue to be used without the Car Seat Base in accordance with the instruction manual.

Orbit Baby DOM Label

All Orbit Baby car seats and car seat bases have consistently met and exceeded applicable government safety standards.  This issue does not affect the performance of the Infant Car Seat G2 when used without the Car Seat Base G2. This issue also does not affect the performance of the Car Seat Base G2 if it is securely installed in accordance with the instruction manual.

 

Orbit Baby Strong Arm Knob

You can find the most up-to-date information on the Orbit Baby website here: www.orbitbaby.com/safety-update

 

Why 3-Year-Olds Have No Business Riding In Booster Seats

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Is a 3-year-old safe in a booster?

I see this less frequently than in years past, but it’s still happening all across America. Parents are graduating preschool age children into booster seats too quickly. The problem is, it’s not a “graduation”. It’s a demotion in safety. And it’s putting young children at risk for serious and possibly fatal injuries in a crash.

Here are some of the main reasons why 3-year-olds (and even many 4-year-olds) have no business riding in a booster seat in the car:

  1. 3-year-olds (and young kids, in general) lack the maturity to stay properly seated for every ride in a booster seat
  2. Even though some booster seats are rated down to 30 lbs., it is generally accepted that children under 40 lbs. are best protected in a seat with a 5-pt harness
  3. Many booster seats do not position the seatbelt optimally on the body of an average 3-or-4-year-old which could lead to internal injuries in a crash
  4. Many boosters seats have a seating depth (front-to-back) that is too deep for the shorter legs of a younger child. If the child has to slouch or scoot forward to bend his/her knees over the edge of the booster, that will promote poor seatbelt fit which increases injury risk.
  5. Having a 3-year-old in a booster is illegal in some states (like New York), although there may be exemptions

Think of it this way – when your child rides in a carseat with a 5-point harness, the responsibility for the child’s safety rests on you, the parent or caregiver, to make sure that the child is safe in the vehicle. It’s the parent/caregiver’s responsibility to make sure the seat is installed tightly and the harness straps are snug around the child. The child is responsible for nothing. God forbid, in case of a crash, the child should be in the proper position to allow the carseat to do its job.

Now, once your child transitions to a belt-positioning booster seat using the vehicle seatbelt – that responsibility for the child’s safety switches to the child. The booster seat can’t do its job if, at the moment of impact, the child has leaned over to pick up something off of the floor of the car. Or leaned over to mess with their little brother or sister. Or fallen asleep out of position. Or put the shoulder belt under their arm. Etc, etc. Booster seats are for children who are mature enough to sit still and stay in the proper position. And they have to be able to stay in that proper position for the entire ride, every ride. Awake or asleep.

I know there are some 3-year-olds who can do that but the vast majority cannot. 3-year-olds (and many 4-year-olds) are just too wiggly! Most are not ready yet for the extra freedom that a booster provides. Usually, by kindergarten age, most kids are ready to start “booster training”. But if your kid is still a wiggle worm with no impulse control – then you should continue to use a seat with a 5-point harness. Just make sure it’s a seat that your kid still fits in.

There are a few forward-facing carseats with a 5-pt harness that have low top harness slots and a 40 lbs. weight limit on the harness. Those seats will be outgrown much more quickly by weight or by height. But there are many more seats on the market today with a 5-point harness rated up to 50, 65 or even 90 lbs. that also have tall top harness slots to keep those preschool age kids safely in a 5-pt harness for a few more years. And many of them can also be used in booster mode (without the harness) once the harness is outgrown. We call those “Combination Seats” (pictured below) because they combine a forward-facing 5-point harness seat with a booster seat.

 

For more information, please see our list of Recommended Seats or visit our forum at www.Car-Seat.Org.