Monday, April 6, 2009

Car Seat Safety

Well I'm not sure if all of you know, car seats and car seat safety are a passion of mine. I'm taking a class as soon as it works out to become a Child Passenger Safety Technician. In this post I will cover a few points and if you are interested in more information let me know and I can get it written up for you, if I don't know the answer I will find it for you! One major thing everyone needs to know, Car seats EXPIRE! There should be a DO NOT USE AFTER __________ stamp on it somewhere. If there isn't a stamp on it then it's expired and you should discontinue use immediately!

Here goes:

Infant Car Seat Safety-

A few major points-
Read your manual! All the information you need is in there! It's the most important part of installing any car seat.
After it is installed make sure there is not more than an inch of movement in the belt path. To check this use your non dominate hand and give 2 pulls. If it moves more than an inch it's not correct and you need to tighten the seat belt or latch anchors.
The handle/bar can be left up only on the newer Graco seats and the Chicco car seats. If you own an Evenflo seat the bar must be down and you have to have an inch and a half between the bar and the vehicle seat.

Rear facing/Forward facing

The law in every state is that a child must remain rear facing until 1 year AND 20 pounds no matter what. They have to reach both of those before they can be turned forward facing. This can be done in either an infant seat or a convertible seat.

The American Academy of Pediatrics just changed their recommendations to keep children rear facing until 2 years and 30 pounds or to the limits of their seats which for most convertible is either 33 or 35 pounds, again check the manual. The reason for this switch is that young children are 5 times safer rear facing. It reduces the risk of internal decapitation. (I can dig up the actual facts if you would like but for now I will leave it at that.) This is what we call Extended Rear Facing.

A few questions I have been asked by my husband mostly but also other people.

Won't their legs break if they are scrunched up against the back seat? There have been less reported cases of children breaking their legs in an accident because of Extended Rear Facing. Plus I'd rather have a kid with a broken leg than a kid with a broken neck, right?

Won't they be uncomfortable when their legs are longer? Again no they won't because they will adjust their legs, usually sit pretzel legs, to be comfortable. Most children actually complain after being switched to Forward Facing that their legs fall asleep from them dangling and not having support.

Won't they complain about it? Nope, if they have never been forward facing how would they know anything different? Depending on the seat you get they should be able to see out the windows or give them soft toys to play with while in their seats. Any hard or heavy objects can become a projectile in an accident.

Where should the straps be?
Rear facing- straps need to be at or below the shoulders
Forward facing- straps need to be at or above the shoulders.

When is a rearfacing seat outgrown?
A. Your child reaches the weight limit
B. Their head is within one inch of the top of the seat.

When is a forward facing seat outgrown?
A. Your child reaches the weight limit for the harness
B. The tops of their ears reach the shell of the seat
C. Their shoulders are above the top slots

If you have any other questions or would like to know about Extended Harnessing let me know!

I took this infomation strait from the car seat board on about convertable car seats. These ladies are amazing and have the answers to all car seat questions!

Britax Marathon, Decathlon, or Boulevard (MA/DC/BV)
17” top slots, RF 5-33lbs (newer models rf to 35 lbs.), FF up to 65lbs in 5 point harness. Awesome seats, allow for rf tethering, has lockoffs to replace locking clips, very easy installs, many bells and whistles that make them easier to use correctly every time, lasts most kids to age 5-6y/o. $220+

Evenflo Triumph Advance
RF to 35lbs, FF to 50 lbs. Max harness height of 17”. The Triumph Advance has the infinite-like harness adjuster too…no rethreading the harness! Much nicer than the old Triumph! Much taller shell than the old Triumph too. Harness not removable. $129

Sunshine Kids Radian
65/80 18” top slots, RF 5-33lbs, FF up to 65lbs in 5 point harness. Great seat, only second to Britax because it has some compatibility issues in some vehicles when installed with seatbelt. Harness not removable. Really good seat otherwise, allows for RF tethering, lasts most kids to 6-7y/o. 8yr lifespan (most have a 6yr) $175+

Recaro Como & Signo
Recaro makes seats for NASCAR and has made car seats for the European market and a few for the US market for years. RF to 35lbs, FF to 70lbs. Bottom slots of 9", so not ideal for newborns. The outside width of the seat at its widest point is approx. 19 ½” to 20”. The Como & the Signo are basically the same shell the biggest difference is that the Signo has an infinitely adjustable harness (whereas the Como has to be re-threaded) and the Signo's latch straps are on a bar--similar to Britax (on the Marathon and Boulevard)--so you don't have to re-thread the latch belt if you're going from rear facing to forward facing. Como is $249; Signo is $289 and has 17.75” top slot.

First Years True Fit Convertible Car Seat
RF 5-35 lbs, FF to 65lbs, 10” bottom slots, 17” top slots. 3 crotch positions, designed to fit smaller cars—headrest removes to allow rf seat to recline to 45°, put headrest back on after older child is 22 lbs. and adjust seat to be more upright when rf. Cover removable without unhooking the harness, lockoffs for rf & ff, harness adjusted with a knob, everything adjusts by sliding something. Covered in EPP Foam. $179.

Cosco Scenera
$40 5pt harness version. Very basic no-frills seat. Minimal padding, but it's rare for a LO to complain about it. 35lbs RF limit with a taller shell! 40lbs FF limit however most kids outgrow it in torso height at about 3-3.5yo due to the low 15” top slots. It just doesn’t offer enough torso grow room to get most kids to 40lbs. Readily available at Wal-Mart/Target/K-mart. Usually requires 1-3 chunks of pool noodle to get a good recline.

Safety 1st Uptown 35 lbs RF, 40 lbs FF, tall 16.5” top slots so this is the ONLY RF/FF 40lbs limit convertible that will likely get a kid to 40lbs. EPP foam, velvety plush cover, super cushy. Very easy to use & install. 8 yr lifespan! (Most have a 6 yr.) Around $100 or less at and

The Graco ComfortSport, Evenflo seats, and the Alpha Omega 3-in-1 types are very small seats that are usually outgrown the same time as the $40 Scenera. You don’t get much for your money. While they are safe there are just other options that offer more for less cost.

Okay that's it for now. I will probably do more posts as time goes on as this is a passion of mine!


  1. Thanks for the information. It will def. come in handy.

  2. Great info... keep it coming!

  3. Wow - what a great, informative post! It's been a while since I've had little bitty ones, but I will definitely be pasing this info on . . . thanks! :)

    ps: that Landyn is so very cute!!

  4. that was really helpful- thanks!

  5. Hey- thanks for your comment on my blog about shopping with kids- I totally agree with you about putting the car seat on top of the cart. I don't think it's safe either! It scares me when I see other parents doing that. Needless to say, I won't be doing that! :)