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
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Carpooling Safely: Recommended Portable Car Seats

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Best Portable Carseats for Older Kids in Car Pools and for Travel

With school back in session and fall sports and activities in full gear, it can be challenging to figure out how to get kids where they need to go…safely! Carpooling has sure changed from when we were kids! Fitting additional children safely into vehicles can be tricky. Thankfully child restraint manufacturers have noticed a need for products to make this feat a bit easier, whether it be in personal vehicles or while traveling. While many of these suggestions would apply to rental vehicles and rideshares, the focus of this article is really on day-to-day driving.

I have four kids, so carpooling becomes even more of a challenge. Thankfully I own a lot of seats and don’t hesitate to swap them in, out, and around, but if you’re going to be using someone else’s seat to transport a child, it’s really important that you know how to use it. It may benefit you to purchase an additional seat vs. trying to figure out how to use each of your children’s friend’s seats. And on that note, if you’re adding additional harnessed seats to your vehicle, you’ll need to make sure you have room for those seats to be safely installed and have tether anchors for all forward-facing car seats.

We typically keep two products with us at all times, just in case we need to pick up an extra child or two: the Ride Safer Travel Vest and one of the other great travel boosters like the BubbleBum, Graco RightGuide, or TurboGo. This combination allows us to accommodate a very wide range of children from preschool through elementary school! And the beauty of these products is that they are very narrow and can fit pretty much anywhere a seatbelt fits.

Most people realize that you need enough width for a child restraint to fit in order to add another child passenger, but there are other important considerations. All passengers need head restraints (either from the vehicle seat or from a car seat) up to at least the top of their ears. If you have a seating position without a head restraint, or one that’s quite low, you’ll need to be mindful of what type of restraint is used there. (And just a reminder…an adult shouldn’t be sitting there either!) That’s one great benefit of the Ride Safer Travel Vest. It allows many kids to sit in a seating position without a head restraint because it doesn’t lift them up off of the vehicle seat!

Here’s an example of two different boosters…on the left is the Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong. You can see his ears are well above the seatback (not a problem here because this seat has a head restraint but the middle seat in this vehicle doesn’t!) The RightGuide, shown to the right, brings him down so his ears are just right at the top of the setback. He’d still be too tall to use this seating position if there weren’t a headrest, this gives you an idea of how the height of the booster seat can make a big difference in the height of the kid.

Shoulder belt positioning is another important consideration if you’re using backless boosters. It’s not uncommon for the shoulder belt to hover in front of the child without some adjustment. Your vehicle may have an adjustable shoulder belt anchor or a small bungee strap with a clip on the end. If this adjustment is not built into your vehicle (and sometimes even if it is), you’ll need a booster seat that offers some type of shoulder belt adjustment. Many, but not all, backless booster seats come with an adjustable strap with a clip at the end for assisting with proper shoulder belt fit.

Many people wonder what that little bungee strap with the plastic clip at the end is for…well here you go!

So what about when your kids ride with others?

If your child rides in a traditional rear or forward-facing 5-point harness, you’ll need to figure out if the other vehicle has an extra seat appropriate for your child or if you, or the driver, must install your child’s seat. Don’t rush this step. Be sure you take the time to understand how this vehicle may be different than what you’re used to. Don’t assume that the driver of the vehicle knows how to do it either! If, and only if, your child is mature enough to ride in a booster seat, this may be a good time to do so. Using a booster seat eliminates a number of mistakes that could be made with installation in a different vehicle. The Ride Safer Travel Vest may also be a great alternative for the times when a forward-facing child who typically rides in a harness needs to travel in another vehicle.

Since it is most common with children in booster seats, let’s talk more about booster seats for carpooling. Make sure your booster seats will fit. Installing any type of seat three-across can be challenging but boosters need room for buckling as well. Make sure your kids understand how to use their booster seat in a variety of situations. Teach them to check their shoulder belt fit and to always use a seating position with head support. Test your kids in other vehicles to see if they can set up their booster seat correctly, including assessing proper shoulder belt fit and finding a seating position with a head restraint. It’s likely that their travel booster seat may be different from their everyday booster seat so be sure your child understands the differences and how to use them both.

As I mentioned, the market is changing and we have so many products available to help with the challenges of carpooling. (Please remember that not all restraints are appropriate for every child or every vehicle. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you’re using the restraint correctly.)

Don’t sacrifice safety for convenience. Protect your precious cargo EVERY ride.

 

Carpool-Friendly Child Restraints:

BubbleBum: This inflatable booster seat is narrow and very compact when deflated and rolled up making it a great solution for fitting in a middle seat or tossing in a backpack. Even fully inflated, it takes up very little room.

Ride Safer Travel Vest: This product is a cross between a 5 point harness and a traditional booster seat. Rather than lifting the child up to fit the vehicle seat belt, the vest lowers the seat belt down to fit the child. The surface area and energy-absorbing material help absorb crash forces and spread them over a wider area of the body like a 5 point harness does. The vest can also be used with the tether to stabilize the upper body of a child if he/she isn’t quite ready to sit completely still.

 

Graco RightGuide: One of the newest portable boosters on the market, the RightGuide is easy to use and plenty compact for a backpack. Just be sure the shoulder belt is making contact with the shoulder. If not, the included shoulder belt adjustment clip is stored neatly inside the bottom of the RightGuide.

 

Graco TurboGo: The wide-open belt guides make this booster very easy to use. It also has a unique fold that reduces the size of the booster by about 30% for easy transport while still giving you a nice full-size booster when you need it.

Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong (Highback and Backless Boosters): The Backless portion of this booster essentially folds in half. It’s much more compact than many boosters but it’s very easy to use and boosts kids up enough to often not need shoulder belt adjustment.

MiFold: While the MiFold is fabulous in theory, we haven’t found it to offer a consistent belt fit from vehicle to vehicle and child to child. Be sure to check the fit on the child in the vehicle where it will be used before sending this seat with your child.

HiFold: This folding highback booster is new to the market and appears to give a pretty good fit. It’s certainly not as compact as the backless boosters above, or the RSTV, but it may prove to be a nice addition to the market. (Not yet evaluated by CarseatBlog)

WhizRider: Similar to the Ride Safer Travel Vest, this very compact travel solution also lowers the seat belt down to fit the child. It does not have energy-absorbing material or an optional tether. (Not yet evaluated by CarseatBlog)

 

Letting Your Teen Drive Your Newer Car: Difficult or Easy Choice?

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National Teen Driver Safety Week 2019

October 20-26 is National Teen Driver Safety Week.  Keeping kids safe in cars has been our focus at CarseatBlog for over a decade now.  That doesn’t stop when they move out of a booster into a seatbelt!  Did you know that the risk to older teens is much greater than the risk to younger children in motor vehicles?  In fact, driving and riding with other teen drivers is simply the most dangerous routine activity that many teens will ever do in their life.   Unlike kids in some younger age groups, car crashes are still the #1 killer of teen drivers.  There were almost 2000 deaths and over 230,000 injuries to teens age 16-19 in car crashes in 2017 in the USA.  By comparison, there were 270 deaths and roughly 41,000 injuries to children age 5-8 in the same period according to CDC Data.

For young children, child passenger safety advocates have a guideline that we prefer to put the least protected occupant in the most protected seating position if possible.  For example, a child in a rear-facing carseat generally is very well protected from side impacts, so they could be placed in an outboard seating position, while an older child in a backless booster might ride in the center seat if appropriate.  Is the same principle even more important for teen drivers, given the much higher number of injuries and fatalities?

Of course, teen drivers are always in the driver seat, but what vehicle are they driving?  Are they in mom’s newer SUV with the top safety ratings and crash avoidance features?  Maybe they don’t get to drive the newest car in the family, so they use dad’s sedan from five or ten years ago that still has good safety ratings.  Or, are they in a used compact car from 15-20 years ago that may have been in a crash with frame damage?  Is putting the least safe driver in the safest vehicle available to them a mantra we should be teaching?

 

 

Yes, it’s tough to let your 18 year-old drive that shiny newer car, knowing that it’s more likely to get some dents and scratches.  It’s even tougher to let your new teen driver take the wheel of the newest car in the household, with a much greater risk of it being wrecked in a crash.  The problem is that inexperienced teen drivers also have a far greater risk of being severely injured.  Those advanced crash avoidance features may be what can keep them out of a crash.  If they do crash because of inexperience or distractions, those top safety ratings may be exactly what they need to avoid serious injury.  We have a list of safe and more affordable used and new cars for teen drivers.

If you are worried about your children in carseats being injured in a car crash, consider this table below.  In 2017, about 1,200 children age 0-14 died in motor vehicle crashes.  With any contagious disease, that would be considered an epidemic with immediate public outcry and government action.  Nearly 6,700 young adults age 15-24 died in crashes the same year.  For any cause of death, this is nothing short of a crisis.  According to the CDC, “Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.

You did your best keeping your young kids in carseats and safe in crashes.  It’s so much more important to do the same once they start driving and riding with other teens!  Please, consider the risks before making your teen drive the least safe vehicle available to them in the family.

More fon Teen Driving rom NHTSA

No More Unsafe Winter Excuses! The Birdy Boutique Car Seat Poncho Review

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A Cold Weather and Winter Jacket Alternative Safe for Most Carseats

It’s still hot outside here but the early morning fall chill is here. You know, the one that makes you dress in layers in the morning but you’re sweating to death by afternoon? Part of our constant morning struggle is kids complaining that they’re cold when they get in the van, but I’m too cheap to let it warm up (hey, it’s above freezing, they’ll be alright) and they don’t want to grab jackets because they won’t need them within a few hours when they go outside for recess. The Birdy Boutique sent me the perfect solution: their car seat poncho!

We all know bulky jackets are not okay in the car thanks to numerous blog posts on the topic, including Jennie’s famous winter coat entry. I’ve reviewed car seat coats that snap/button over the harness to remove the risk of compression, and those are great options too. However they are pricey and therefore not an option for everyone. The car seat poncho is a cuddly, warm, easy to use wearable blanket that is safe.

Birdy Boutique is a shop run by two moms (and sisters!) named Barbara and Joanna who have a passion for safety. They also have a blog on their website, with tons of great topics including DIY projects! In addition to the ponchos, they sell birthday sets and adorable accessories.

The ponchos themselves have been crash tested in an independent crash test facility and are CPSC/CPSIA certified. They are made of high quality fleece, are reversible, and have a hood. The ones we received were gray with arrows and an adorable green dinosaur print with spikes on the hood that my son loved!

They also have a red and black buffalo plaid with antlers on the opposite side, flowers with mermaids, the gray arrows we also received, cupcakes, a cozy black sherpa, and unicorns. They fit children from about 6-12 months up to 4-5 years and measure about 52 inches long by 24 inches wide. Even though the end of the age spectrum is 4/5 years old, my tall 9 year old loved them too. They don’t drape over his legs like they do my 6 year old but they covered his lap (which is still more coverage than a car seat safe jacket) and he claimed it was super cozy.

Dinosaurs!

Gray Arrows

Using them is pretty self explanatory- simply buckle the child in and then place the poncho over their head so it drapes on top of them like a blanket. The back is designed to be lifted up over the back of the car seat so the child doesn’t have any bulk behind their head. Of course my son was stubborn and insisted on NOT doing that for pictures but given how the poncho fits him, there really wasn’t a concerning amount of material behind his head. It mostly laid safely to the sides and wasn’t more than what a hood on a jacket would be.

Snug and cozy while safely buckled underneath!

A photo from their website that shows how the poncho can be draped over the back of the seat.

These are great options for the budget-minded family and perfect for both cold winters and mild seasons with chilly morning car rides. I really appreciate Birdy Boutique for reaching out to us and offering up their super cool items to try! I always love supporting small businesses, especially mama and veteran owned businesses, and their package was so personal and sweet. From one Army family to another, thank you for your service, Barbara!

You can purchase Birdy Boutique’s car seat ponchos on Amazon or at the Birdy Boutique website. They retail for $39.99 but at the time of writing this they are on sale from $24.99 and up.

Thank you Birdy Boutique mamas! I received no compensation for these products from Birdy Boutique and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.