Thursday, October 23, 2008

Outgrowing the forward facing seat?

How do you know when your child is too big for their forward facing harness seat? The seat is outgrown when ANY ONE of the following happen:
1- His shoulders are above the top harness slots in the seat
2- The tops of his ears are above the top of the carseat
3- When he has reached the maximum weight for the harness (usually 40, 50, or 65)

So what do you do now? Is your child ready to use the vehicle seatbelt? NO! Children are not usually ready for a vehicle seatbelt until 10-12 years old. So, what do you do? If your child is at least 4 years and 40 pounds, you buy a booster seat. If your child is not 4 years old, or 40 pounds, he is really too small or to young to use a booster, and should be in a high weight harness.

Booster seats come in a few varieties.
1- High Back booster- This booster has a back on it, which may be removable
2- Backless booster (or no back booster)- this booster has no back, only a seat and arms/handles 3- Combination seat- this is a seat that is a forward facing harness seat, and a belt positioning booster

Which type of booster is best?
The one that fits your child and fits your car and fits your budget :)

I choose to use a high back booster for the children I take care of. A HBB povides more side impact protection. With a HBB, your child's head will hit the "wings" of the booster, not the vehicle door or window.

Also, please note that children don't usually have the maturity to sit properly in a booster seat until 5-6 years old. If they can not sit properly the entire ride, they need to be in a 5 point high weight harness seat. That will allow you to use the harness to 65 or 80 pounds (also depending on the child's height). The 5 year old I take care of still rides in a seat with a harness.

Here are some crash test vidoes to watch before selecting your booster seat.
High back booster with deep side wings:
High Back booster with shallow side wings:
Backless booster:

Britax's Frontier problems solved

In a previous blog, I pointed out some serious problems with the Britax Frontier. I wanted to post a new message to let everyone know that Britax has listened to the complaints and has fixed the problem on new Frontiers. If you have either of the problems previously mentioned, PLEASE call Britax and let them know. I don't know why they have not recalled seats, and I don't know if they will. So you must be proactive to make sure your seat is safe.
Britax added some stiching to the end of the harness to prevent it from coming off the splitter plate. You can NOT add your own stiching to fix it yourself. There is no gaurantee that is safe! Britax will send you a new harness.

Here are pics of someone's Frontier with a new harness. These have been posted with the owner's permission.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My child needs to be forward facing, now what?

You were the safe caregiver and kept your child rear facing until the limits of the seat. Good for you! Now your child should use a carseat forward facing. If you made it to 35 pounds RF, you must have a nice convertible carseat. You can continue to use that seat (as long as it's not expired or recalled) for foreward facing.

Make sure you switch the LATCH belt or vehicle belt to the belt path designated for Forward facing. Make sure the harness straps are at or above your child's shoulders (you can't use a harness slot below the shoulders now), and follow the seat's instructions for installation. Make sure you use the top tether, even if you're not using LATCH. If your vehicle does not have a tether anchor, contact your dealership about having one retrofitted.

If you can't use your convertible seat any longer (it's expired, it's recalled, or you just don't like it), you have some choices. You'll probobly want to buy a Combination seat. A Combo seat is one that will harness the child until 40, 50, 65, or 80 pounds forward facing only, and then it can be used as a belt positioning booster afterwards.

How do you know if the child is to big for the forward facing seat? The seat is outgrown if 1 of 3 things happen:
1- Your child reaches the weight limit (40, 50, 65, or 80 pounds)
2- The top harness slot is below your child's shoulders
3- The top of your child's ears are even with the top of the carseat

Unfortunately, number 2 or 3 usually happen before number 1. So, weight is not always the best thing to look at when selecting a new seat.

When looking for a new seat for forward facing, here are some thing to consider:
-You want to have high top harness slots (16-18 inches from the seat of the carseat)
-You want a high weight limit, preferably 65 pounds (some 80 pound seats will be outgrown before the child actually weighs 80 pounds)
- And with all carseats, you want to make sure the carseat fits your child, fits your vehicle, and fits your budget.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Some Britax Frontiers are having some problems, please beware

The Britax Frontier is a new High Weight Harness Forward Facing seat made by Britax. It harnesses to 80 pounds (unless the child gets too tall) and then becomes a High Back booster. Many people love Britax seats and think they must be the best because they are so expensive. The Frontier is a brand new seat, just out for 2008. Some people have bought the seat, and have run into problems. Not all of the Frontiers are having problems, but some are. Many of us in the carseat community are expecting Britax to recall the seats. If you already have one, here are some problems to look for.

Problem 1-
The harness comes off the splitter plate. When installed in the vehicle, loosen and tighten the harness straps a few (or several) times. Make sure when you pull the straps to loosen, you're only pulling 1 strap at a time, not both together. Then pull hard on 1 harness strap and see if it comes out of the seat. Repeat for the other side of the harness.
If you harness comes out of the seat, uninstall and fix. THe ahrness came off the splitter plate (metal clip that holds it). Simply replace the ahrness through the seat and reattach to the splitter plate. Make sure all future harness loosening is done by pulling both harness straps equally.
Also, if your harness came off, you need to contact Britax and NHTSA. Call Britax and tell them you're having a problem. THey are aware of the issue, and are working to replicate it and fix it. The more calls they get from people having problems, the better! Also, go to and fill out the information to report the problem. I know NHTSA has already received 3 reports, again, the more the better! Once NHTSA gets enough reports, they will look into it and possibly order a recall.

Problem 2-
Some people have found that when they install the Frontier, it becomes difficult or impossible to loosen or tighten the harness. When they uninstall it, they've found the splitter plate can get stuck on a small piece of plastic on the back. If this happens, follow the same steps as above to report it to Britax and NHTSA. It looks like Britax was aware of this, and seats made after August have had the plastic on the back changed to it can't get stuck.

This is a picture of problem 2. The splitter plate gets stuck on a piece of the plastic.

This is a picture of a Frontier where Britax fixed problem 2 :)

All photos are used with permission of the owners

One grandparent's plea to rear face your child

This was posted on another board I'm a member of. The Grandfather wants to spread the message far and wide about extended rearfacing, to help save other families the pain his family has endured. This has been posted with his permission.

PLEASE, for your childrens sake, consider leaving them in REAR-FACING (RF) car seats as long as you can. Although it is "suggested" by many people and organizations, that you can turn them forward facing at 1 yr / 20 lbs, and seats are made to accommodate that, it doesn't mean they will not be subjected to cervical spine injuries in an accident. Sure, it'll hold their body in place, as it did for my grandson. But their head is thrown violently forward!! Actually, if you do your homework, front facing children "75% more likely to be injured" in a crash ( ).

I am Grandpa, and here's my personal view. My 18 mo old grandson, Joel, was injured in a front impact car crash 4 weeks ago. He is a "beefy" boy, weighing in at 34lbs and about 39" tall. According to his mom, the doctor told her it was "okay" to put him in a front facing car seat, because he was a "big boy". So she did. And he was securely strapped in the rear seat. The car hit a tree, for reasons unknown, at city speed limit of approx 35 mph. At the accident scene, the EMT crew took Joel out of the car while in the car seat and all, and transported him to the hospital. They had to "bag" him at the scene to restart his breathing. The true miracle is that the ambulance was driving by, and some people flagged it down. They didn't even get time to call 911. You can bet God had his hand in that!!! they were on the scene in about 60 seconds!! Below are some photos of Joel, before and after.

YOU decide whats best for your child.......not anyone else!!! He sustained dislocated top 2 vertebrae in his spine (C-1 & C-2). Some of the doctors put it in very simple terms...his skull, internally, became detached from his body... and was basically held on with his skin. In the last few weeks, I've scoured the internet to find these facts:* a young child's head is approx 25% of his/her bodywieight. If that were true of adults, my head (I'm 220lbs) would weigh 55lbs! as it is, an adults head is only about 6% of their body weight. So, kids are very top-heavy.* Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland recommend rear facing until 4 yrs old* look on You Tube at the crash test videos of front facing vs. rear facing. you'll be amazed.

* if a young childs spine is "stretched" a 1/4 of an inch, it could result in total paralysis or death. * and this is amazing! There was an article published in Pediatrics (the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) earlier this year that states: ""A recent analysis of the protection provided in rear-facing compared with forward-facing car safety seats has revealed that children under the age of 2 years are 75% less likely to die or sustain serious injury when they are in a rear-facing seat.2 This finding was true regardless of direction of the crash, even those crashes with side impact, which typically are the most severe.""Parents may be helped to understand the importance of using the convertible car safety seat in the rear-facing position longer than 1 year if they are counseled that children are 5 times safer than when riding in a forward-facing seat into the second year of life."After hearing about that, I contacted the AAP via email, and asked what their position is on this issue. Their response was "While this was published in the Academy's journal, it does not necessarily constitute AAP policy" and "Because riding rear-facing does provide significantly more protection to children's heads, necks, and spines, the Academy does recommend it for as long as possible, but the only minimum we have set is 12 months/20 pounds. This policy statement is under revision but is current at this time."The policy statement is under revision.... at this time?? Do you're home work folks!!!

Oh, and you'll also find out that in the USA, rear facing seats only go up to about 35lbs. In Europe, whose testing standards seem to exceed US standards ( ), the RF car seats can be purchased up to 55 lbs. AND, made by the same manufacturers as in the US. So, the question is, why can't we get them?? And don;t worry about legroom. check out these larger RF seats:

Sure, they can break a leg in a violent crash, but I think bones are easier to fix than a broken neck!!! Heck, it's better to mount a portable CD player in the back window shelf and let them watch it, then to risk their life! Think about it....their body is strapped down to a car seat that is strapped down, and the car comes to an abrupt stop!! where is their head going to go? FORWARD, and at a tremedous velocity!! The back of their neck/ spinal cord is vunerable to injury.But the BIG question is....... for you to decide.

I know you want to see their darling faces. But you don't want to see them in a halo.I know this is a very long blog, but if it saves one child...or one family, the agony of what we've endured these last 4 weeks, it is worth the read!! The pic's below are about six weeks apart. he was eating cake by himself....very cute. And now, he is is headed for intense physical therapy. he does move his fingers and his legs, but he doesn't pick up his arms. The therapy people are very optimistic, given the movement in his extremities. Doctors believe it was some compression of the shoulder nerves from the car seat straps acroos his collar bone area. You had to see those big, wide bruise marks. Again...front facing will do it.!! I welcome all comments, as I would like to see: the FF threshold raised to 24 months, and larger RF seats available in the US. Thank you

Rear facing is safest

"Rear to a year" right? WRONG! Rear facing to the limits of the seat is the safest way for children to ride. In 2002 the AAP said that 12 months and 20 pounds is the minimum children can be forward facing. However, many people don't realize they also said children should remain rearfacing until the limits of the seat.

What exactly are "the limits of the seat"? A carseat is outgrown rearfacing when the child only has 1 inch above their head, or they reach the maximum weight (which is 30, 33, or 35 pounds for all convertible seats).

There have no reports of children breaking their legs or hips because of rear facing. Unfortunately, there have been MANY reports of broken necks and deaths because of forward facing at a young age. My next blog will include 1 child's story.

This is a picture of my daughter rear facing at 25 months old. She will either bend her knees, cross her legs, prop them against the back of the seat, or throw them over the sides (as seen in this picture). All of those are safe to do. She does have her foot on another carseat in this picture, but when another child is in that seat, she keeps her foot in her own carseat.

Welcome to my blog

I've never blogged before. Another nanny suggested I start my own blog in an effort to get carseat safety info out there. So, here we go!

Who am I? Why should you listen to me?

I'm a professional nanny, and a mom. Most importantly on this blog, I am a CPST (Child passenger Safety Technician). I have been trained in carseat safety and installation. I have been doing my own research into carseats. I am keeping up to date on new carseats on the market, and on new safety standards.

I practice what I preach. My daughter will be rear facing until she's 35 pounds. My charges are harnessed beyond minimums (40 pounds) and boostered beyond state laws (8 years in my state). Everyone rides safe in my car.