Parent Shame and Car Seats

It’s National Child Passenger Safety Week!

Last week, in a fit of irritation, I wrote a little tweetstorm on how irritated I am with the notion of “parent shaming”.

And I really meant all of it. Yesterday, I got called to help a very well-meaning family who knew something was up with their car seat and wanted it to be installed correctly. Once I got there, though, I looked at the seat and realized it was not only an expired seat, but a recalled seat. But it’s so common to buy used car seats, many parents don’t even question it.  Or what about this viral video from last month? Here. Here’s a screenshot:

bad-car-seat

I haven’t watched the full video, nor do I care to. Why? Because every time I look at this I get sick to my stomach. Not only is this an infant seat that’s ONLY supposed to go backwards, but I’m pretty certain it’s close to 10 years old, the straps aren’t even on one of the little boy’s shoulders, and my WORD…what is going on with the seatbelt? It’s over the arm, it’s…it’s just a mess. There is almost no likelihood that this poor sweet little boy would escape a crash without major injuries or worse.

Or what about this video?

bad-car-seat-2

The straps are too loose, they are falling off, and she’s too young to be facing forward. Truthfully, 99.9% of the videos and pictures parents post of their kids in car seats have at least one horrible, obvious flaw. Nothing else you buy is THIS critical to keeping your child alive. Nothing. And yes, for a variety of reasons, car seats are just really hard to use correctly. It also doesn’t help when parents so commonly are exposed to other parents making unsafe choices, such as:

  • Buying used car seats
  • Choosing to use expired car seats
  • Placing car seats on top of carts, tables, chairs….
  • Keeping babies in a car seat when they aren’t in a car
  • Turning a baby to be forward facing when they turn 1
  • Letting a baby nap in a car seat outside of the car
  • Not keeping a baby buckled in when the car seat is being used in a stroller
  • Using coats under car seat straps

Parents don’t want to hear that they’ve been doing something that puts their children in danger. I would never DREAM of going up to a parent when I see any of the above things. No matter how it’s phrased, it’s never taken well. Ever. So we try to educate broadly, and I go along and say a silent prayer every time I see a baby sleeping in a car seat, head falling forward, or a $450 car seat precariously perched on top of a shopping cart.

If you’ve been committing any of these car seat cardinal sins, today should be the day you stop. Car crashes are on the rise as more and more people are driving while distracted. Nothing is more important than keeping your children safe. There’s always a solution to every car seat problem. Have a trained professional, a Child Passenger Safety Technician (like me!), help you out if you need it. But really, don’t brush it off. Please.

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Free Car Seats at BabyLove

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Even before I opened BabyLove, I worked at a local hospital, and one of the things I would do is teach many of the classes we held for people who were on UCare or MHP. They both had car seat programs where members on PMAPs through the State of MN could get car seats.

Fast forward to now.

I haven’t ever advertised it, but I am a contracted provider for people on HealthPartners PMAPs and MN Care to provide both car seat education and a free car seat in my office by appointment.

What, free car seat? Yep!

Women on a HealthPartners PMAP or MN Care plan who are at least 6 months pregnant and children on HealthPartners PMAP or MN Care plan from ages 0 to 8 are eligible to get one car seat during their lifetime as a member benefit. To get a car seat, either the pregnant person or the parent of an eligible child (I’ve never had a child call for himself, but I guess it could happen) calls me to schedule an appointment. The easiest availability is during the day, but I do have some limited evening appointments available. An appointment takes about 45 minutes. During the appointment, they are taught how to correctly install and use their car seat, both by video and hands-on demonstration. Unfortunately, I do not actually install the seat. When we’re done, they leave with the car seat or seats in hand.

Easy peasy!

So tell your friends, family, strangers…..if they have a HealthPartners PMAP or MN Care plan and fall into one of the two groups above….we can get them a seat! Just call me, Veronica, at 651-200-3343 to schedule an appointment.

That’s all for today, folks!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Will the new Evenflo car seat prevent heatstroke deaths?

car seat heatstroke

Last week, Evenflo and Wal-Mart announced that they had partnered up to create the ADVANCED SensorSafe™ Embrace™ DLX infant-only car seat. The seat has special technology in the chest clip that goes to a wireless receiver to alert the driver when a child is being left behind in a car. I’m not going to get into how the technology works or if it’s reliable. There are a few things I want to delve in on, though, when it comes to the issue of kids dying of heatstroke in cars and if this is going to be a good solution to reducing deaths.

So far for 2015 (as of this writing), we have seen 11 children die of heatstroke after being left in a car in the US. There were 44 and 31 deaths in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In the Upper Midwest, we do have fewer heatstroke deaths than in the South or the West, but it does still happen. Since 2003, 3 children have died of heatstroke in a car in Minnesota; 8 kids have died in Wisconsin during the same time frame.

According to information collected in Heatstroke Deaths of Children in Vehicles by Jan Null, CCM of the Department of Meteorology & Climate Science at San Jose State University, most of these deaths (for the years 1998 through 2014) occur under 3 main circumstances:

  • 53% – child “forgotten” by caregiver (336 Children)

  • 29% – child playing in unattended vehicle (186)

  • 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult  (111)

This new car seat technology is really only designed to address the first and third scenarios. It’s critically important to teach your kids to never, ever, EVER play in cars and make sure that a car is locked when it’s parked. Kind of like you need to teach your kids to not play with lighters or matches. Remember the gut-wrenching case in Wisconsin 2 years ago with the toddler who was hiding in a car truck and died? Cars are not toys.

Back to the car seat in question, I have a few issues with someone buying this seat.

First of all, this is an infant only seat, with a maximum weight of 20 35 pounds and a maximum height of 30 inches. The average baby is 30 inches by around the age of a year, but some babies outgrow an infant-only car seat before they are this old. Currently, the technology isn’t offered on a convertible car seat. Less than one-third of heatstroke deaths were in babies less than a year old. 22% of the deaths were in kids ages 1-2 years old, and 13% were in ages 2-3 years old. This is a solution for a very limited time period, and ONLY if your car is model year 2008 or newer.

Second, this piece of technology increases the cost of the seat from $90 to $150. That’s a $60 clip! While that’s not to say that saving lives isn’t important, is this cost increase worth it when it’s only useful for a very limited length of time?

Third, will this lull parents into a false sense of security?

Ideally, technology like this will become standard in all car seats. My cynical guess is that it’ll take 10 years or more before something like this is universally adopted, if ever. In the meantime, there are some common sense tips out there, but probably the best one is this:

Get in the habit of putting your phone, either in your purse or diaper bag on the floor whenever you put your child in the car seat. Do it every time, without fail. Not only will it serve as a reminder to always check your back seat, but it also removes the cell phone as a distraction while you’re driving. Really, the cell phone is a danger in of itself that should be removed from the process of driving, baby or not. As my neighbor Anna says, “Phone down, eyes up.”

What tips do you have to keep your kids safe in cars in hot weather? Share below!

Warmly,

Veronica

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Summer Baby Safety

Summer Baby Safety

Today is our very first 90 degree day of the year, so it’s time to get everyone up to date on the things you need to know to keep your baby safe.

No water for newborns 

Your baby should ONLY be given breastmilk or formula for the first 6 months. Nothing else. Water can actually be dangerous; their kidneys aren’t able to get rid of the excess water and it can make babies very ill. And really, we take access to safe water for granted (BIG TIME). Even some things in the water supply that an adult body can handle, a newborn’s body can’t.

Nurse that baby!

When the weather gets warmer, don’t be surprised if your little one has more frequent feedings. We get thirsty more often, and your baby does too. So watch your baby for cues and listen to what he’s trying to tell you: It’s hot and he’s thirsty. It’s OK. It won’t spoil your baby.

Stay in the shade

The AAP cautions against using sunscreen on babies under the age of 6 months. Their skin isn’t mature enough to handle it. Get a hat that allows for decent ventilation with an SPF and use an umbrella or anything else to make sure you avoid prolonged sun exposure.

Cover that car seat

If you’ve been through at least one summer with kids, you’ll know this, but it’s still important to repeat: Car seats get very hot in the sun. Kids and babies alike try to avoid getting burned (smart kids!). While your car is sitting out in the sun, cover the car seat with a thick blanket to keep it from getting too hot.

Rethink the beach

Here in Minnesota, in the land of lots of lakes, going to the beach in the summer seems like a birthright. Yeah, not so fast. While nobody is claiming that lakes should be squeaky-clean, the reality is that our lakes aren’t very clean. The Minnesota Department of Health has a wonderful set of resources to help you figure out if your favorite spot is safe, but again– what we can tolerate as adults can easily make babies and toddlers sick. Stick to the pool instead.

Nobody wants to miss out on our precious summer days because of injury or illness. Any other summer safety concerns? Let me know!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Am I biased? You bet.

BiasedBiased

Recently, although I’ve heard it before, the charge was leveled at me that I am biased in my classes. I was called, “Pro-breastfeeding, anti-drugs.” I spoke with a few other Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educators, and it seems that this charge is something that we’ve all heard. So, I think it’s time that I out myself for all of my biases.

First of all, I teach what’s best practice, what’s evidence-based, and what’s biologically normal. Now, keep in mind that it takes, on average, 17 years from the time something is deemed best practice (ie. safest) in maternity care before it used on a regular basis. 17 years. When new practice bulletins come out from ACOG, when the American College of Nurse Midwives issue statements, when the AAP put out new guidelines, guess what? That’s what I’m teaching. If I only taught what was being done by doctors and midwives– well, I have major ethical concerns with that. In an environment of “shared responsibility,” there’s a moral imperative to give families the information that they need to know if they are getting safe and competent care.

As for the “pro-breastfeeding” charge; I’m always interested to know why someone’s motivated to make that charge. Yes, I am a Certified Lactation Counselor. So? In classes, I teach the American Academy of Pediatric’s guidelines on infant feeding and mention what the World Health Organization’s stance is on the issue. Maybe the issue is that my classes meet the standards as set forth in the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Again…so? We have 6 hospitals in the Twin Cities that are certified as meeting the Baby-Friendly requirements, all of the Healtheast system, one HealthPartners hospital, HCMC, and the U of M hospital, I hardly think I hold a renegade position. If those hospitals want to maintain Baby-Friendly status, they need to make sure their childbirth education classes have the same content as mine do. With almost 90% of moms initiating breastfeeding, I’ll stand with and support them. This is not about condemning one feeding choice, it’s about helping moms reach the goals they have for themselves.

What else?

I believe that it’s important to teach an understanding of the processes that are the biological norm.

I believe in maternity care transparency.

I believe that moms need to be responsible for finding competent care. They need to learn what that looks like and how to find it.

I believe that infant car seats are usually a waste of money and, since they are more often recalled and used incorrectly, can quickly become not as safe as convertible car seats. I also hate that parents aren’t taking their babies out and more than half of kids now have flat heads by age 1.

I believe in teaching about healthy choices and safe choices.

I believe in judging a hospital and birth center by their outcomes, not their wallpaper.

Are these things really that bad? Is it wrong to make sure parents aren’t being lied to? Is it wrong to be critical of those “educators” who are giving parents unsafe information because it’s the cultural norm? Is it wrong to help parents seek out safe care? Is it bad that I advocate for the right of a mother to be listened to? I hope not.

Every day, I hear birth stories and breastfeeding stories from moms who didn’t get the education or support that they needed and either they ended up with poor outcomes or their babies did. And you know what? I’m going to stay the course, because moms, babies, and families deserve it.

-Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Used car seats aren’t a good deal

dangerous used car seats

“Another post about used car seats?”

Yes. Another post about used car seats. Like much of parenting, there’s the inherent instinct to dismiss professional advice as being overly-cautious or self-serving. And babies can be expensive, so clearly it’s all a scam to get parents to pay more money for more junk that they don’t need, right?

Um…..no.

If this post didn’t convince you that used car seats should be used with caution, here are 6 things I want you to think about:

  1. That used seat may be hard to install or use correctly- Over time, manufacturers make upgrades to the design of their car seats. In theory, as they get smarter about design and use, they make the seats easier to use. Some older or inexpensive car seats may be very hard to adjust the straps so that they are tight enough, which means your baby wouldn’t stay secured in the car seat in the event of a sudden stop or crash. It’s also VERY common for used car seats to have stuck or difficult lower anchor adjustments, making it so you can’t tighten the seat’s install enough.
  2. That used car seat may have gone through an unreasonably high amount of wear and tear- Something we look for as CPSTs when looking at used seats to to see if the shell of the seat has been weakened or compromised in any way. It’s pretty common to find that a seat has gone through an excessive amount of stress and has weak points in critical parts of it. These weak points may mean that the shell breaks at the belt path or at the harness slots if placed under any extreme force.
  3. Seats get recalled- When a family has a used car seat sitting in the basement or garage, they may not notice if a recall has been issued on a seat (this is why registering products is critical). It’s not uncommon to come across recalls when using previously used seats. Some recalls render the seat useless, some require a fix, and some just address seat usage. Whatever it is, these are key to take into account.
  4. The previous owner didn’t care for the seat properly- Car seats can stop working if not cared for in the correct manner. Using bleach on webbing can lead to the straps breaking down, causing them to be very weak. Failure to clean moving parts according to manufacturer’s instruction can cause them to seize up and no longer work. Clips and tabs can break off over time. It’s important to take these possibilities seriously.
  5. The car seat has been put together incorrectly- I don’t have any hard and fast statistics on this, but it’s VERY common for a seat that’s been used over a length of time to have the various straps and buckles twisted, threaded through the seat the wrong way, or to have parts of the seat backwards or in the wrong place. Without a thorough knowledge of how seats should work, you may not be able to determine if a seat has problems that need to be fixed.
  6. The car seat is too dirty to salvage-  Babies are messy. Spit-up, vomit, poo, crumbs–lots of things end up in a car seat. Usually, the car seat cover can be removed and washed (usually on delicate, but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions), but other things like buckles and straps often can only be cleaned with warm water and mild detergent.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I can understand that the expense of a car seat can seem very overwhelming. However, there are good ways to spend those dollars in a way that is both wise and safe and that is useful for a long length of time. After all, it’s better to spend $200 on one seat that your child can use until he’s 6 or 7 years old than to buy 4 seats at $75-$100 or more each time to get to that same age.  We’re talking about something that can protect your child from the leading cause of death for kids. That’s something to value.

The National Highway and Transportation and Safety Administration has some very good resources that can be helpful to understand the complicated topic of car seats. Check it out, and let me know if you have questions!

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

Don’t make these common mistakes with your baby!

Don't

Ooh…click-bait-y. Sorry.

Some days, I feel like a broken record. There are so many things that have become so ingrained into our parenting culture that very few people question it any more. And I’ve written before about how some things seem very subjective, but when it comes to health and safety, the truth is pretty black or white. So, dear interwebs….it’s time to break some bad habits and burst some bubbles.

When you know better, you do better.

1) No baby should ever be fed 8 ounces of anything in a bottle.

This has nothing to do with formula or breastmilk. A baby’s stomach is only as big as his fist, which means that realistically speaking, a baby should really only be fed 2-4 ounces from a  bottle. Any more than that is overfeeding, plain and simple. And it turns out that it doesn’t matter if it’s breastmilk or formula in a bottle– overfeeding leads to obesity.

Here’s info on how much breastmilk a baby should be given via bottle.

Here’s some info on how much to feed a formula-fed baby.

2) Limit the amount of time your baby spends in “containers”

More than half of babies now have a flat head by age 1. And truth be told, I’m not shocked. I see too many flat heads when I’m around babies. While some of it may be caused by tight neck muscles (some times caused by a tongue tie), the use of too many baby containers is primarily to blame. Parents move their babies from a bouncy seat…to a swing…to one of those magical baby moving chairs….to a car seat…..and so on.

Limit the amount of time your baby spends in these containers. Do more “tummy time”. And find a way to carry your baby in a sling or wrap or other carrier that works for you and your budget. Babies who spend too much time in containers can also end up with under-developed stomach and back muscles, learn fewer words, and not have a chance to learn how to interact with other people.

When you need to start making meals, need to take a shower, etc, then the swing or seat for a short about of time is perfectly safe, though.

3) Car seats are for cars

Want to hear something staggering?

“An estimated 43,562 car seat–related injuries [EXCLUDING AUTO-CRASHES] were treated in emergency departments from 2003 to 2007.”

Stunning, yes? Over 40,000 babies ended up being injured from falls and other accidents while they were in a car seat that wasn’t in the car. I’m sure if a newer study was done they’d have similar findings. The rules for safe car seat use are black and white. Your baby is either safe or in danger.

  • Car seats should never be placed on top of shopping carts in the seat area. The basket is OK, but not in the small shopping carts (and see above).
  • Car seats should NEVER be placed on restaurant high chairs.
  • Car seats should not be placed on tables, chairs, beds, in cribs, in those sling things the restaurant was suckered into buying….your baby should NEVER be left in a car seat on an elevated surface.
  • If your baby is in the car seat that’s been placed in a compatible stroller, baby MUST be strapped in. Babies wiggle and fall out more than you want to know.
  • Behind falls, the other cause or injuries or worse is suffocation—which is why you should never leave a child of ANY age strapped into a car seat to sleep unattended.

4) It’s normal for breastfed babies to poop anywhere from more than 7 times a day or once every 7 days…or more.

Breastmilk does not cause constipation. Some times I forget to warn moms that it’s totally normal for exclusively breastfed babies to get super efficient about breastmilk digestion and just not poop very often. Hey, as a new mom I freaked out about it too….until I found my trusty breastfeeding book that told me it was totally normal. That experience inspired the phrase “fro-yo poo.”

I’m sure there’s more that I can think of….there’s always more. But 4 things is plenty for now, yes?

I hope this is helpful!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

2014 Updated Convertible and Combination Car Seat Lists

The new IIHS Booster Seat Ratings just came out, and it’s really fun to see how well manufacturers are responding to the ratings by improving their designs. Some of the ratings did apply to seats that I had written about before. Some ratings improved from before, and one seat did not do very well at all. Additionally, a seat was just reintroduced to the US market, and I wanted to include it in the list of combination seats. So, below you will find an updated list of seats that I suggest for both convertible car seats and combination car seats.

First, though, some caveats and disclaimers: 

There is no right right car seat for everyone.  You need to pick a car seat that works for your budget, that will fit your child and, especially in the case of convertible car seats, will fit in your car.  Additionally, I do not make any money on the sale of any brands that I will list below.  This is just my opinion based off of 5 years of experience as a Child Passenger Safety Technician. These are not listed in any specific order, either.

Convertible Car Seats

#1- The Recaro ProRide 

I like the ProRide for a few reasons. It’s got some of the highest limits both forward and rear facing. This means it’s going to do a good job of keeping your child rear facing for a long time and allowing your child to stay forward-facing in a 5 point harness for as long as possible.

  • Cost: $220-$260
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-40lbs and 49″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-65lbs and 22.5″ when seated
  • Dimensions: 27-29″H x 19″W x11″D
  • Weight: 20lbs
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, Adjustable head support, Recline level indicator, no-rethread harness adjustment

#2- Diono RadianRXT

Things I love about this car seat include it’s steel frame, that you can use the LATCH to anchor it to up to 80 pounds, that it’s also a booster, that it’s narrow frame means you can fit three into the back seat of many cars, and that you can tether it rear-facing. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but it’s the only car seat you really need to ever buy (in theory). In 2014, the IIHS rated this seat as a “Best Bet” when used as a booster seat.

  • Cost: $250-320
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-45lbs and 44″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-80lbs and 57″
  • Dimensions (HxWxD):28.5″H x 17″W x 16″D
  • Weight: 26.15lbs
  • Expiration: 8 years from date of manufacture in harness mode, 9 years in booster mode
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, Adjustable head support, Expandable sides, Adjustable cup holder

#3- Combi Coccoro

While the two seats I listed above are FABULOUS at being able to be used for the long-term, if you have a smaller car or 2 kids in the back seat of your 4 door car (or, in a 2 door car), then you might need a seat that’s more compact so it’ll actually fit in your backseat rear-facing. This is also a really nice, lightweight seat.

  • Cost: $175-$210
  • Rear-facing limits: 3-33 lbs. and 40″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-40lbs and 40″
  • Dimensions: 17″ L x 15.50″ W x 28.25″ H
  • Weight: 11.75 lbs.
  • Expiration: 7 years from date of manufacture
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, Can be tethered rear and forward facing, starts at a very low birth weight, a very good seat for preemies, buckle has a visual cue to tell you it’s buckled correctly

#4- Evenflo SureRide DLX

For families looking for a cost-effective option, this is a good seat.  It has some features of the more expensive seats above, like high height limits in the forward facing position.  It does not have some of the nicer features of the other seats, and it can’t be tethered in a rear-facing position.  Also, you’ll find it’s missing some of the “ease of use” features the other seats have. But I will say I do like Evenflo seats and was thrilled to find this seat.

  • Cost: $85-$110
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-40 lbs. and 40″
  • Forward-facing limits: 22-65lbs and 54″
  • Dimensions: 24” High x 18.5” Wide x 28” Long for rear-facing; 28” High x 18.5” Wide x 20” Long in forward-facing mode
  • Weight: 10.5 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture
  • Other features: Side-impact protection, made in the USA, fold-down cupholder

#5- Diono Rainier

As much as I love the Radians, The new Rainier has a few things up on them. First, the lifespan of use is 12 years from date of PURCHASE, whereas the Radians are good for 10 years from date of manufacture. The Rainier is also a little more padded and has higher weight limits. The one downside is that the Rainiers are wider, so you can’t get 3 in the backseat of a smaller car. This seat was rated as a booster by the IIHS for the first time in their 2014 list. It was given the grade of “Not Recommended”, so I can’t really say this would be a good choice to keep using as a high backed booster.

  • Cost: $290
  • Rear-facing limits: 5-50 lbs. and 44″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-90 lbs and 57″
  • Dimensions: 16 x 17 x 28.7 inches
  • Weight: 28.4 lbs.
  • Expiration: 12 years from date of purchase
  • Other features: Also a high back booster, can be tethered rear-facing, folds for travel

#6- Graco MySize 65 

OK, I do like this seat. I like that you can adjust the harness without un-installing the seat. I like that there are 2 separate sets of lower anchor straps so you don’t have to move the lower anchor straps when you go from rear-facing to forward facing. I like the recline settings. The infant insert is nice, too. The main downside is the lower height limit for forward facing.

  • Cost: $180
  • Rear-facing limits: 4-40 lbs. and 44″
  • Forward-facing limits: 20-65 lbs and 49″
  • Dimensions: Overall Height: 26″ x Width: 22.3″ x Depth: 19.3″
  • Weight: 19.34 lbs
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture (stamped on back)
  • Other features: integrated cup holder, ease of install, upgraded LATCH connectors

Combination Car Seats:

All of these seats were rated as “Best Bets” in 2014 by the IIHS. There was a change in this, as the Britax had been rated as a “Check Fit” last year. Manufacturers do tweak designs on the same model, so older seats may not be designed as well. Just another argument for the wise investment that goes with a new seat.

#1) The Evenflo Maestro

Full disclosure: this was the combination car seat I bought for my son after he outgrew his convertible car seat. He was able to stay in in with a 5 point harness until November of last year, and he was 5 years old then. He’s still using it now as a booster seat. I don’t love it as a booster (I don’t like how the shoulder portion of the seat belt is threaded), but I do like that you can secure it with the LATCH as a booster to keep it in place in case you have to stop suddenly or get in a crash.

  • Cost: $70
  • Harnessed limits: 22 – 50 lbs and 28 – 50 inches
  • Highback booster limits: 40 – 110 lbs and 43.3 – 57 inches
  • Dimensions: 19” W x 20.5” D x 27” H inches
  • Weight: 11 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

#2) Evenflo SecureKid DLX

For a step up in price from the Maestro, the Evenflo SecureKid has some really great extra features to make it more comfortable for your child and easier for you to install.  The headrest is adjustable, and the lower anchors have retractors that automatically tighten the install as you push on the seat. As far as I can tell, you can only get the seat from BabiesRUs, and as of the date this post was published, is only available for preorder.

  • Cost: $160
  • Harnessed limits: 22 – 65 lbs and 28 – 50  inches, or 17 inches when seated
  • Highback booster limits: 40 – 110 lbs and 43.3 – 57 inches
  • Dimensions: 26” High x 19” Wide x 21” Deep
  • Weight: 14 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

#3) Recaro Performance Sport

If you read my post on convertible car seats, you know that I really love the Recaro ProRide. For a combination car seat, the Recaro Performance Sport is really great too.  You can’t use it rear-facing, but if your child has outgrown his or her convertible car seat, this is another great option. This seat has an adjustable headrest, has memory foam cushions, and has some extra features, like color-coding slots and a white stripe on the edge of the harness, to make sure the straps aren’t being threaded incorrectly. Also, the seat meets both US and European crash test standards; the requirements to pass European tests are more stringent than in the US.

  • Cost: $200
  • Harnessed limits: 20 – 65 lbs and 27 – 50  inches
  • Highback booster limits: 30 – 120 lbs and 37-59 inches
  • Dimensions: 25” High x 1.5” Wide x 14” Deep
  • Weight: 25 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

#4) Britax Pioneer 70

The Britax Pioneer is also on the higher side for price, but it’s long life means that you’ll get your money’s worth. As with the Recaro, Britax seats pass European and US crash test standards. One feature this has that the other seats don’t is a harness that you can adjust the height of without rethreading. My only quibble with Britax seats is that they can a little tricky to install using the vehicle seat belt; though as always, if you read the manual and follow the directions, you should be fine. This was rated as a Best Bet by the IIHS in model year 2014. In 2013, this seat got a “check fit” rating from the IIHS for use as a belt-positioning booster; this means you’ll have to take extra care to teach your child what proper belt placement is.

  • Cost: $185
  • Harnessed limits: 25-70 lbs and 30-54  inches, 18.5 inches seated
  • Highback booster limits: 40 – 110 lbs and 45-59 inches
  • Dimensions: 19″ W x 34″ H x 21″ D
  • Weight: 21 lbs.
  • Expiration: 9 years from date of manufacture

NEW! IMMI Go Seat

This seat was just brought back on the market, and it’s a really interesting design. It’s made to be super portable, very easy to install when using LATCH, and can convert into a backless booster. Because of the design, it requires the use of a tether to install it. It’s small dimensions make it very handy to use when you need to get 3 seats across a small backseat, and it’s perfect for families that travel a lot.

  • Cost: $199
  • Harnessed limits: 22-55 lbs when installed with LATCH, 22-65 lbs when installed with a seat belt, and 31-52  inches
  • Backless Booster Limits: 4 years of age, 40 – 100lbs, 43 – 57 inches
  • Dimensions: 16.5″ W x 16.5″ D; Height is determined by the seat the vehicle is attached to
  • Weight: 10 lbs.
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of manufacture

Have any questions about this list? Let me know below!

Warmly,

Veronica

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

How car seats are like birth

Yep. I fell off the #write31days train. You get a video today.

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.

5 Reasons Why Car Seats Are So Tricky

why are car seats hard to install

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week! YAY!

I get complaints all the time from families about how hard cars seats are to install and use correctly. Yes, they can require a few tries before figuring out how to get a seat installed correctly into a car. Yes, I often end up with cuts and scrapes while helping parents wrestlt with a seat. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all easier, but the reality is, things aren’t going to change any time soon. So if you’re wondering what the deal is, here are 4 reasons those car seats are so tricky to install.

1) Lack of universal requirements for LATCH in cars- While LATCH became standard on most cars starting in 2002, there aren’t set standards for HOW the LATCH system exists in a car. So, for example, in some sedans, you have 3 different positions that you can use lower anchors. That’s rare. More often, you can only use the outboard positions. Lack of universal standards mean that you need to consult the car;s owner manual and the car seat owner’s manual to make sure they will play nicely with each other.

2) Lack of universal requirements for car seat manufacturers- In the US, car seats are required to meet minimum crash test standards. You’ll also start to see more seats now that have “side crash protection,” but not all seats do. Some seats have “ease of use” features like lockoffs, variable angle settings, optional rear-facing tethers…you get the picture. And while those things can make a seat a great seat to use, I find that parents are more confused by the array of options than helped. The free market at it’s finest.

3) Parents don’t read the directions- I know those manuals seem like they are simply too thick to read and have too much information, but the grand secret of car seat checks? We read the manual for the car and your car seat with you and go from there. Just don’t tell anyone that’s what we do. (OK, so we also have some tricks up our sleeve and are more familiar with different seats, but still.)

4) That seat your friend lent you is broken- After a few years of use, some really messed up things can happen to car seats. Like what? Harnesses completely misthreaded, buckles missing, parts installed upside-down, key pieces broken off, lower anchor belts so coated with crumbs and goo that you can’t actually adjust the belt…yikes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The car seat is the ONE THING you should buy new. Car accidents are the #1 cause of death for kids under the age of 12. Why skimp on a vital piece of safety equipment?

5) Amazon reviews are just opinions- So, you get home that seat that has RAVE review from parents online, and then you realize….it’s not as easy to use as people say. Why? Well, again, the reviewers may have a different kind of car, may have a different number of kids, and who’s to say that they put the seat in correctly? Maybe it was “easy” to install because it’s wrong.

And know that if you’re struggling, help is out there. A CPST can help you understand your car, your car seat, and teach you how to install your seat in your car. We’re often happy to help advise on types of car seats, too. Car seat techs are special kinds of nerds. Let us help you keep your precious car as safe as can be.

Warmly,

Veronica

Related:

My suggestions for Convertible Car Seats

My suggestions for Combination Car Seats

 

 

Veronica Jacobsen, BA, CLC, CPST, LCCE, FACCE
Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, Child Passenger Safety Technician, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators

Opening BabyLove in September of 2011 has allowed me to build a space where all families can come to get good information in a caring, welcoming environment. I have found that not only do I love teaching more than ever, but I also really love running a business. Hopefully my passion for every aspect of BabyLove shines through.
I live in Richfield with my husband, and I am a mother of a two great children. When I can steal a few free moments, I love to go on adventures with my family, cook, garden, thrift, can, and craft.