Wednesday, April 1, 2009


UPDATE: I forgot to include this link. If you want to get your carseat inspected, go here and fill in your city, state, etc. A list of certified technicians will pop up. Another option would be to call your local fire station or police station and ask if they have a Child Passenger Safety Technician on staff.

It seems a carseat blog is in order. Or, you know, another one.

First off, I am so excited! The American Academy of Pediatrics just revised their stance on rear facing! This has been  a long time coming and I am so thrilled. The LAW is that infants must rear face until one year of age AND 20 pounds. However, that is just the law, and as many laws do, it falls short and is outdated. It is MUCH safer (we call it Best Practice) to keep your baby rear facing until the age of two AND the limits of their carseat...five times safer, in fact. The AAP has finally put it in writing here.

Now, now. I know what you're going to say. If their feet touch the backseat, won't their legs be broken? What if they're not comfortable? But they want to face forward like a big kid!

None of those things are true, I promise. Number one, there has NEVER been a documented case of a baby or child's legs being broken because they were rear facing. Not one. Even if it was a concern, I would choose a broken leg over a broken neck any day. Two, they're comfortable, no matter how big they are. My older kids are off the charts (above the hundredth percentile) for height and weight, and they both stayed rearfacing until the limits of their seats. Jace until he was two, Ava until she was two and a half. They both had long legs and were perfectly comfortable rear facing. Jace usually sat criss cross applesauce. Third, they don't want to be forward facing. They don't know what forward facing is. I find a lot of times as parents, we project our feelings on to our kids...we want to see them forward facing like a big kids. We wouldn't be comfortable facing backwards all scrunched up, so they must not be either. It's important to remember that kids are not little adults and that they don't act like adults.

So...point one. Keep your baby rear facing. It's worth all the hassle, I promise. After they outgrow their infant seat, they should go into a rear facing convertible seat until they reach at least 2 years of age. They are so much safer it's not even funny. Here is a comparison of crash forces rear facing versus forward's definitely worth taking a look.

Now let's move on. After you child turns forward facing, they should stay in a five point harness until a minimum of four years of age AND 40 pounds. Again, that's a minimum. My children, at 3.5 and 4.5 are still in 5 point harnesses (in a Britax Frontier and Graco Nautilus, for trivia fans), and they'll stay in them until about age 6, when I think kids begin to be more capable of self control in the car.

The thing about booster seats is that they simply boost the child up to make the seatbelt fit them correctly. I like to say that putting a kid in a booster is like putting them in charge of their own safety in the car, whereas in a 5 point harness, you are still responsible for them. If they unbuckle, wiggle, lean, or fidget, they're probably not ready for a booster, or at the very least, they need booster training.

So how to do you keep your child harnessed until they're around 6? With a seat that is extended harnessing friendly. You want to get a seat that has a high weight limit (50-80 lbs...don't waste money on a 40 lb seat unless you have someone to pass it down to), and tall top slots.

The bottom line is, who want's to parent by the minimums? If you were told that you could either do the bare minimum and your child would get by in school, or you could follow best practice and help them excel, what would you choose? I know I want to be a Best Practice Parent. in every area.

The great thing is that every day, more and more cost effective car seat choices are coming out! Brands are not the most important part, but longevity and ease of use is. I try very hard to counsel my parents on how to spend their money wisely and buy the right seats that will get them through their child(rens) carseat years. In many cases, when there are multiple children involved, we try and make sure that a current purchase will be a suitable hand me down seat later.

As a disclaimer, seats are only safe to hand down if you know their history, they are not expired, and if you have all the pieces and the manual. Most seats expire after six years from the date of manufacture, not purchase, although there are some that are good for less or more time. There will be a date on a sticker or stamped into your seat that will tell you either when your seat was manufactured or when it expires.

What seats do I like? Well, I'm glad you asked. I love any seat that fits your budget, your car, and your child and is installed and used correctly every single time. =)

That being said, I do have some favorites. For an infant seat (seats that are rear facing only), the Chicco Keyfit and the Graco Snugride 32 are great choices, although Seth rides in an Orbit Infant Seat because I fell in love with it and got it as a shower gift.

Convertible seats (seats that convert from rear facing to forward facing) I enjoy are the Britax Boulevard or Marathon , the First Years True Fit, and my very favorite, the Sunshine Kids Radian . The Radian does an amazing job fitting kids all the way from their first trip home from the hospital until they're ready for a booster.

Combo seats (Seats that forward face then turn into a booster) I like are the Graco Nautilus and the Britax Frontier .

My favorite dedicated boosters are the Sunshine Kids Monterey , the now discontinued Britax Parkway, or the Recaro Vivo .

Again, the most important thing is that your seat fits your child (they are under the weight limit and their shoulders are below the top slots forward facing), your car (less than an inch of movement side to side when installed), and your budget, and that you buckle them properly each and every time. This means no slack in the harness. =)

I hope this was helpful! Please feel free to ask any questions.


Anonymous said...

I'm actually in a panic now! HA! I don't know if I actually have my carseat and booster seat in right!

But thank you thank you for posting this! You're absolutely right, a broken leg is better than a broken neck (hope I NEVER get the choice!). I'll definitely go somewhere (although I'm not sure where to) to get those two check.

Thank you again!


Lisa said...

Well now I'm freaking out too!! I had Malakhi in a booster! He sits well and it seems to fit him but he's not at the max weight!!! Looks like I'll be going out today (after I freak out taking him to school) and getting a new seat! Thanks for the info!!

Sonya said...

I think this post was very helpful. My daughter is 14 months and I still have her rear facing. I am getting lots of pressure from my step mom to turn her around so that we don't have to install her carseat everytime they pick her up (they already have a seat for my neice)

I think I will forward her this!!

4 Lettre Words said...

Glad to see this! We are very conservative with this stuff, and even have a 5-point harness seat that goes to 90 lbs!!! Plus, I drive an Expedition. :o)

Never can be too safe in my opinion.

Laura said...

*smile* - you posted the same I had in my head for my entry today after I saw that new publication from the AAP - at last!!!!! I'll probably link people over here.

A couple of things I would add is if you can get one, the Regent is still my favourite forward-facing harnessing seat of all time (I bought two to put into storage for Logan figuring he will be 9 when it expires).

Also, if your vehicle is older than 2001, it most likely does not have top tether anchors. These can be retrofitted into most vehicles and often for free by your local dealership. It is very important to get and use top tether anchors as they reduce the amount a forward-facing child's head is thrown forward by 4 to 6 inches - that could be the difference between the child's head hitting the seat in front of them in a crash, or not.

4 Lettre Words - it is unlikely your seat harness to 90lbs - please read the instructions for your seat carefully. The maximum harnessing regular seat (special needs seats harness higher) is 80lbs - that would be either the Britax Regent or Frontier or the Sunshine Kids Radian 80. Be careful you do not have a combination seat - that means it converts from a harnessing seat to a booster. Most of these types of seats have a max harness weight limit of 40lbs, and a booster weight limit of around 100lbs. In this type of seat, when the child reaches 40lbs, or their shoulders creep above the top harness slot, you need to remove the harness and begin using the seatbelt. I echo Ellyn though - if your child is under 6 years of age when this happens, I recommend you look into getting a higher weight capacity harnessing seat.

Oh, and I also like the Evenflo Triumph Advance as a convertible seat - RF to 35lbs, FF to 50lbs and easy on the budget.

Robin Bair said...

thanks for the post. very helpful.

4 Lettre Words said...

Thanks, Laura! I was wrong. It's a Regent so it's 80 lbs. My 5+ son is only 37 lbs, but nearly 4ft tall, so weight is not a huge deal for me...he'll be in it until graduates! :o


Jill S. said...


I loved this post. Another infant car seat that I love and have myself (it was recommended to us by another special needs momma) is the graco safeseat. It is an infant carrier that accomodates children up to 30 lbs and 32inches, much longer than the 'typical' infant car seat. since our little man has very little head control and will not walk or even sit in a grocery cart for a long time, it works well for transporting in the stores also. Downfall, it's a bit heavy, but it will keep him in his infant seat much longer. We plan on keeping him rearfacing till at least two years and possibly longer due to his low tone and his lack of head control.

Thank you so much for this post!

Eyeglasses & Endzones said...

My cousin was a car seat inspection specialist and I had her check all mine when my guys were, we are onto boosters and life is easier. Great info for all the babies out there!!!

E @ Scottsville said...

I'm so glad yesterday was just a 'gag' for April Fools and I am out of the carseat phase for good. =0)

Melissa said...

I love our Radians! We have a Radian 65 and a Radian 80 and they are great seats! My 6 and almost 7 year olds (both about 42 pounds) are currently riding in them and are very comfortable. The seats are narrow and they don't expire for 8 years (as opposed to 5 or 6). Love them!

Melissa :)

Heidi @ Tayterjaq's Rebels said...

I am a big carseat fanatic also. I will admit to not having a harness that goes past 40lbs but I just can't see investing another $100 in a seat she will only use for a year or two. My youngest is in the harness still because she is hovering at the 40lb mark and I am dreading when I have to start using the seat belt.
My 9 year old is truly embarrassed when any of her friends ride in our vehicle because she is still in a backless booster. She is not even 70lbs yet and not very tall either. Most of her friends are much bigger but I am still appalled that a number of them are allowed to ride in the front seat. I want so much to say something but feel it is really none of my business.
The last car seat check up I went to the woman was so impressed with my car seat knowledge she recommended becoming a technician myself. That makes me feel like I am doing the right thing for my kids.
(Sorry this comment was soooo long)

Anonymous said...

I shared this entry on my blog today, giving you full credit of course.

I just think it's so important and hope you don't mind.

Praying for Seth's surgery. I'm excited!!

*Katie* said...

HI, i feel strongly about this and even though i cannot have children at this point i was hopping that i could share this post on my blog and link it back to yours because i think the way you word this post is so much better then i could

Anonymous said...

Do you people have a facebook fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

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