Diono Monterey Review

When Diono announced the re-release of the Diono Monterey booster, we rejoiced!  The Diono Monterey is a favorite among many of the CSFTL older Littles. With a variety of both ease of use and comfort features, it’s a great option for when older children are ready to transition to a booster.


Diono Monterey

Diono Monterey

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • High-back booster weight range: 40-120 lbs.
  • High-back booster height range: 38-63″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs.
  • Backless booster height range: 38-63″
  • Highest booster guide position: 21″
  • Hook on lower anchor connectors
  • 8 year expiration
  • 2011 IIHS Best Bet in high-back mode
  • Requires vehicle head restraint support in both modes


When the Monterey showed up on my doorstep, it was like welcoming an old friend into our house.  The Monterey was the first booster my oldest daughter used and our family has liked the seat ever since.  The Monterey is shipped in two pieces.  Assembling the Monterey is straightforward — line up the back of the booster with the bottom, and snap the high-back portion into place.



Lower Anchor Connectors

Diono Monterey lower anchor connectors


One of the main features of the Monterey is the ability to use lower anchor connectors to install the seat. Many caregivers appreciate this feature as the lower anchor connectors attach the booster to the vehicle and removes the risk of the seat becoming a projectile in a crash when it’s unoccupied.  There are no weight limits when using the lower anchors with a booster; using them restrains the weight of the booster and not the child.


Diono Monterey seat adjustments.

Diono Monterey seat adjustments



The Monterey features 11 different headrest positions, ranging from 14.5 inches to 21 inches to provide a proper fit as the child grows.  The torso wings adjust width wise to accommodate the broader shoulders of older children. At its most narrow adjustment, the Monterey measures 19.5 inches wide and can expand up to 22.5 inches at the widest.



Diono Monterey dual cupholders


The Monterey boasts not just one, but two cup holders. They’re can be tucked away when not in use or if you need to install a car seat next to it. Without the cupholders, the seat measures 18 inches wide. With the cupholders out, the seat width increases to 22 inches.
The Monterey’s comfort features can appease even the pickiest of booster riders. With ample padding, soft fabrics, and enough depth to keep even the longest-legged kids supported, the booster is easy to love. The seat depth measures 14 inches while the width at the thighs is 16 inches making it a good choice for bigger kids.

Installation and Usage

Using and installing the Monterey is easy.  If lower anchors are not available, the seat can be used without them. Remember to buckle the seat in when it’s not in use thought when the lower anchors are not in use!  To use the lower anchors, loosen the connector strap using the adjustment lever located on the front of the seat, attach the lower anchor connector to the designated points in your vehicle, and pull the straps tight from the front of the seat.  Unlike a harnessed seat, there doesn’t need to be less than one inch of movement side to side when installed. The Monterey does require head restraint support from the vehicle to the top of the child’s ears, even in high-back booster mode.  This may rule out the Monterey as an option for those vehicles with low seat backs and no head restraints.

Diono Monterey lower anchor lever and button

Diono Monterey lower anchor lever and button


I did notice the buttons on the lower anchor adjuster straps can get stuck in the adjuster.  If they do, it can make it difficult to release and adjust properly.  When tightening the lower anchors, make sure to not pull them in too far, to ensure they don’t get stuck. Loosen the straps by pressing down on the silver lever and pull the connector straps.

Diono Monterey belt guide

Diono Monterey belt guide


One major improvement that came with the re-release of the Monterey was the updated belt guide for the shoulder belt. Before the re-design, the belt guide made it difficult to allow the belt to retract if the child leans forward or when buckling themselves in. This issue has been remedied and the belt retracts freely.

Fit to Child

Not only does the Monterey offer a variety of comfort and ease of use features, it also provides a great belt fit for a range of booster riders.  The shoulder belt rests nicely on the collarbone, and the lap belt sits nice and low on the lap.

High-back Mode

Diono Monterey, 5 years old, 52 lbs, and 46 inches tall

Diono Monterey, 5 years old, 52 lbs, and 46 inches tall


The first model is 5 years old, 52 lbs, and 46 inches tall.  She’s a newer booster rider, but was pleased with the comfort of the Monterey and especially the cup holders.  She can easily buckle the belt by herself, though I still check to make sure it’s in the correct position. At 5, it’s important to remind kids of the rules of booster riding — sitting still, not wiggling out of place, and staying upright even when asleep.


Diono Monterey, 8 years old, 56 lbs, 52 inches



The next model is 8 years old, 56 lbs, and 52 inches. She’s quite the experienced booster rider and was happy to see the Monterey back.  She was pleased with the comfort and softness of the seat’s cover.  Like her little sister, she could easily buckle the seat herself and the booster provided an excellent belt fit. She’s picky about leg support on her seat.  She was happy to discover that the Monterey still provided ample support like the previous version did.


Diono Monterey- 10 years and 75 pounds

Diono Monterey, 10 years old and 75 lbs


Model number three is 10 years old and approximately 75 lbs and 54 inches. The Monterey fits bigger children quite nicely with ample room for broader shoulders and taller torsos. The Monterey still provides excellent seat belt fit on this older model, seat belt crosses nicely across her collar bone and the belt is low on her lap and not on her abdomen. At 10, she is getting closer to passing the five step test, but she’s not quite there.



Backless Mode

Diono Monterey backless mode, 8 years old, 56 lbs, 52 inches

Diono Monterey backless mode, 8 years old, 56 lbs, 52 inches


The Monterey can also be used as a backless booster. It was sold separately in the past as the Santa Fe, but Diono did not re-release the Santa Fe when they released the Monterey. The similar backless Diono Solana is available. The Monterey provides a great seat belt fit for older children as well when using it backless. Children always require vehicle head restraint support to the tops of their ears when using the seat in backless mode.


The model for the backless booster is 8 years old, 56lbs, and 52 inches.  As a backless booster, The Monterey is a lightweight booster which could make it a good option for car pooling or travel.


Important Information: Where to Find

FAA approval: Since airplanes only have lap belts, and boosters can only be used with lap and shoulder belts, the Monterey is not FAA approved.  As a backless booster, it would be good to tuck into the overhead bin or below the seat, and use upon arrival at your destination.

Diono Monterey Date of Manufacture sticker


Expiration: The date of manufacture along with the model number can be found on a sticker on the bottom of the seat. The expiration is 8 years from the date of manufacture.

Diono Monterey manual storage


Manual Storage: The manual for the seat is located on the bottom of the seat. This is a great place to find answers to questions to like replacement after a crash. The Monterey follows the NHTSA guidelines for replacement after a crash.

Overall Thoughts

The Monterey is a long-lasting, well-fitting booster.  Along with providing most children an excellent seat belt fit, it has many ease of use and comfort features and lower anchors. Like our family, many families will get a lot of use out of the Monterey, both in their own vehicles and when traveling.



Can’t wait to see if you’ve won?  Purchase the Diono Monterey on Amazon.com.

Diono provided CSFTL with the Monterey for review, but no other compensation was given.Our friends at Diono are offering one lucky winner a Monterey of their own!  Simply enter in the Rafflecopter below.





a Rafflecopter giveaway


Originally written by Kim Robinson. Edits maintained by CSFTL.


This year’s Child Passenger Safety Week is focusing on #therightseat. What is the right seat for your child? That’s not an easy question, but it’s an important one: injuries in motor vehicles are a leading cause of death in American children. According to the CDC, when properly used, #therightseat for your child reduces his or her risk of injury and death in a car crash by 50-71%.


Choosing the right seat isn’t easy though, for lots of different reasons. Why is it so hard? Here’s one story:


When part of our team was at the Kidz in Motion conference in Orlando, Florida this year, they had an opportunity to help a family with #therightseat. This family knew their baby needed a seat for every ride. At home in the UK they used one seat, but when traveling to Florida on holiday they didn’t know where to look for a safe travel seat.  So they did what lots of parents and grandparents do: they stuck with their routine, and turned to a seat they had bought for their 21-year-old daughter when she was a baby. This seat was their travel seat and had been used by many friends and family through the years. Though this seat was probably state of the art two decades ago, technology has moved on and a 20 year old seat is no longer a safe option. Doing things like we’ve done them with our older children or learning to parent from our peers who have been there before is certainly essential in parenting. While our village might be a metaphoric life-saver with other parenting topics, when it comes to #therightseat, up-to-date information and technology is the literal life-saver.

1994 Britax BabySafe

1994 Britax BabySure


Ryan Hawker from Dorel Juvenile

Ryan Hawker from Dorel Juvenile


This sweet family not only got to have a conversation with a group of CPSTs about a safe option for their baby, Ryan Hawker from Dorel Juvenile was able to provide this family with a new, safe seat for their baby (and was awarded a CPS hero prize for this among other acts!). CPSTs then talked them through the use and installation of the seat. Choosing #therightseat is only part of the equation, it must be properly used and installed as well.


Choosing the right seat isn’t easy but it’s immensely important. That’s where we come in! By using #therightseat, caregivers, CPSTs, and Child Passenger Safety Advocates can start a discussion about the importance of choosing the proper car seat or booster for every child and every ride. #therightseat can be used anywhere on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond.




During CPS week we’ll be talking more about #therightseat for different kids, different cars and different situations, and how we can help get every kid in #therightseat. We’ve got articles, reviews and giveaways, so stay tuned! At CSFTL, our team is passionate about helping parents get the best information to choose the right seat for their kids. Ask us for help, it’s what we love to do, and remember that the safest seat is the one that fits your kid, fits your car and that you use correctly every time.



Britax ClickTight Recall

Today, Britax announced a recall of select Advocate ClickTight, Marathon ClickTight, and Boulevard ClickTight seats.  The recall is for seats manufactured between August 1, 2014 and July 29, 2015.  This affects seats in the United States and Canada.

Seats manufactured during this time frame may have a defect with the harness adjuster knob, which can be a safety issue. The knob may remain in the release position, allowing the shoulder straps to loosen while in use.  This is not a return recall, but a repair recall.  Britax will send a repair kit with a remedy to seat owners.  You can continue to use your seat prior to the arrival of the remedy kit, as long as you are not experiencing issues with the seat.

Contact Britax for a remedy for the seat.

More information and a frequently asked questions can be found here.

The following model numbers are included:

Screenshot 2015-08-13 at 14.41.28












The sticker with the model number can be found underneath the cover, on the right side.  



IIHS LATCH ratings

Hyundai Sonata Lower Anchor.

On June 18, 2015, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released new ease of use ratings for LATCH. The most important point is that this is not a safety rating in any way, shape, or form. IIHS is merely discussing the ease of use and accessibility in 2015 vehicles. If you’ve ever spent 20 minutes in the back seat shoving your fingers into the seat bight looking for the lower anchor that you KNOW IS THERE, you know that not all lower anchors are visible to the naked eye. The same applies to looking high and low for a tether anchor behind the seat that the car’s manual assures you is back there somewhere.

What is LATCH? LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors And Tethers for CHildren. Lower anchors are an alternative to seat belt installation for car seats in passenger vehicles. It does have varying weight limits, so is not always an appropriate installation method. Tether anchors should be used for all forward facing car seats to reduce head excursion and lower injury risk in children.

The IIHS information is meant as a way to rate ease of use and accessibility of LATCH in new vehicles.  They did not rate vehicles prior to the 2015 model year.  The purpose of the report is to encourage car manufacturers to see the difficulty that some parents are having when using LATCH for car seat installation.

The report gives 4 different ratings for LATCH.  Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor.  You can read the entire release, along with what defines a Good rating here.  If you have a vehicle that got a Marginal or Poor rating, DON’T PANIC!

The picture at the start of the article is of a 2015 Hyundai Sonata, which was given a Marginal rating.  It’s easy to see, but that cover on the lower anchors can make it difficult to reach and attach a lower anchor connector.

IIHS LATCH ratings buick century latch

Buick Century Lower Anchors

The picture to the right is a 2005 Buick Century.  The outboard lower anchors are difficult to spot.  However, the middle lower anchors are pretty visible without any digging.  Note: it’s rare for a vehicle to have lower anchors in all three positions in a sedan.

This report is certainly something to take into account, but it is not the only consideration when looking for a vehicle

Chrysler Town and Country Lower Anchors IIHS LATCH ratings

2013 Chrysler Town and Country third row lower anchors

For example, The Town and Country scored Acceptable on this release, but experience has shown us that it’s not the best choice of vehicle if you have more than 2 kids.  Why? Because it only has one set of offset LATCH in the middle of the third row. With offset LATCH, if you use the lower anchors to install, you use up both the middle seat and the driver side outboard seat, thus losing a seating position. We also know that this particular vehicle provides a poor belt fit for the outboard seats in the third row so might not be an ideal choice despite being given a Good rating for LATCH.  These ratings are just one piece of the pie when considering a new vehicle.

We should also note that using the seatbelt to install a seat is perfectly acceptable.  One method of installation is not safer than the other, provided you can obtain a good



Originally written by Kim Robinson. Edits maintained by CSFTL.

Evenflo Transitions Review

The Evenflo Transitions is the newest seat in the world of combination seats.  It is a seat that offers a five point harness, a high back booster, and a backless booster.  With several comfort and ease of use features, the Transitions is a wonderful option for keeping kids harnessed longer. Lets take a closer look at the seat.

CSFTL Quick Stats:


Evenflo Transitions

  • Forward facing weight range: 22-65lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 28-50″
  • High-back booster weight range: 40-120lbs
  • High-back booster height range: 44-57″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120lbs
  • Backless booster height range: 44-57″
  • Highest harness position: 18″
  • Highest belt guide position: 20.5″
  • Lower Anchor weight limit: 45lbs
  • Expiration: 8 years
  • Two position crotch strap
  • 2 Recline Positions
  • Use of Lower Anchors allowed in booster mode


Straight out of the box, the Transitions comes fully assembled, with protective plastic over the cupholders.  The manual, registration card, and shoulder belt guide for use in no back booster mode, is right on the front of the seat.  Always remember to send in your registration card that comes with the seat.  This registration card allows the manufacturer to contact you, should a recall occur.

Installation and Use

Harness Mode


Lower Anchors


Tether anchor and storage


Recline foot and lever

The seat belt installation for the Transitions is easy and straight forward.  The belt path for using the seat in harness mode is wide and easily accessible.  Having a wide belt path is beneficial, as it makes it easier to thread the seat belt and tighten it.

The top tether comes attached to the tether storage hook on the back of the seat.  It is important to always use the top tether.  The top tether on the Transitions is easy to clip onto the tether anchor, and easy to tighten and adjust.  The lower anchors on the seat feature what Evenflo calls “quick connectors.”  These are different from standard lower anchor connectors and easier to use.  Standard lower anchor connectors are clip style, which require you to hook around the lower anchor of the vehicle.  The quick connectors are the push on style.  There are arrows on the connectors that need to point.  These quick connectors also feature a red tab to pull on to release.  The weight limit for the lower anchors on the seat is 45lbs.  Once your child reaches 45lbs in harness mode, the seat must be installed with the seatbelt. The seat features handy storage spots for both the tether anchor and the lower anchors. If you are using the seat for a child less than 40lbs, you MUST use the recline stand on the bottom of the seat.

Fit to Child: Harness Mode


Evenflo Transitions: 2.5 years old, 28 pounds, 34.5″


This model is 2.5 years old, 28lbs and 34.5″. With this model, with the headrest in the correct position, it tended to push her head forward a little bit. She is using the third harness slot position. She is required to use the harness covers as she is under 40lbs. The material is rougher, so could irritate some children’s skin.


Evenflo Transitions: 4.5 Years Old, 41 pounds, 41 inches tall

Here we see the fit on a 4.5 years old, 41 pound, 41 inch tall model.  He is using the second to the top harness slot, so he has plenty of room to grow! He fell asleep several times in this seat and looked very comfortable.


Evenflo Transitions — 5 Years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

This model is 5 years old, about 45 inches and 46lbs.  She found the seat to be comfortable and “squishy.” She also found the strap covers that come with the seat, which are required to be used for a child under 40lbs, to be itchy.  The harness straps are pretty narrow set, so I was concerned about them cutting into her neck without the covers.  This was not a concern or an issue for her.  With 18 inch top slots, she fit well on the last set of harness slots, with about 1.5 inches of growing room. The head wings on the seat provided a comfy place to rest her head when sleepy.


Evenflo Transitions: 6 Years Old, 51 pounds, 47 inches

Here is the harness fit on a 6-year-old, 51 pound, and 47″ model.  She was right at the top of the harness slots so would need to transition to the high back booster mode soon. She fit well in the booster mode as well, but was sad she was almost too big for the harness.

Evenflo Transitions buckle tongue holder

Evenflo Transitions buckle tongue holder

Getting them in and out of the seat is easy too, with the help of the buckle tongue holders on the side of the seat.  The  seat also comes with an optional body pillow.  Please note that this pillow is optional before 40lbs, but it must be removed after 40lbs.

Harness to High Back Booster Conversion

Converting the Transitions from harness to high back booster is easy. It has a unique set up that allows you to keep the harness WITH the seat, so that you don’t have to worry about losing any important parts of the seat.


Front of harness routing


Harness routing in the back

Evenflo Transitions Jclip

Evenflo Transitions J-clip

The first step is to unhook the harness slots from the splitter plate and thread them through the front of the seat.  Then, unhook the “J clips” that hold the cover on to the shell of the seat.  Once the cover is off, rethread the harness and reattach to the splitter plate.  Then, thread the retainer clip through the belt path and clip it together. Reattach the cover, and you are good to go!

Evenflo Transitions high back booster mode

Evenflo Transitions high back booster mode

For the crotch buckle, take it out of the slot, and reattach it upside down.  When the seat is being used as a high back booster, you can use the lower anchors to attach the seat to the vehicle.

Fit to Child: High Back Booster

Evenflo Transitions: High back booster mode, 5 years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions: High back booster mode, 5 years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

Here we see one of our models from the harness section above demonstrating the fit to child in high-back booster mode. She is 5 years old, 46 pounds, and 45 inches tall.   The seat provided an optimal belt fit for her.  It positioned the belt low on the hips, and flat across the shoulders. Still enjoying the comfiness of the seat, she said she preferred the harness.  Learn more about how a booster should fit in our article: Proper Booster Fit.

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 6 years old, 51 pounds, 47 inches tall

This model is 6 years old, 47 inches tall, and 51lbs.  With the belt set up in this vehicle, it made it difficult for the seat belt to sit flush against the model but she did end up getting a decent fit with the head rest in the second to highest position.

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 6 years old, 51 pounds, 47 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions high-back booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 51 inches tall

This model is 8 years old, 56 pounds, and 51 inches tall.  She said that while the seat was comfortable, it was “squished” in the shoulders.  The belt fit for her was optimal as well.

Evenflo Transitions Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo Transitions Shoulder Belt Guide

The belt positioner on this seat is wonderful.  It is wide open, so that getting the belt to retract is easy.  It also has loops enclosing the belt within the guide, so that it doesn’t come out.

Backless Booster Conversion

Evenflo Transitions: Backless booster conversion

Evenflo Transitions: Backless booster conversion

Converting this seat from high back mode to backless mode is by far the easiest conversion I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  There is a red lever on the bottom of the seat.  Pull on that, then lift UP on the recline handle, and the bottom portion of the seat comes off.  Once taken off, you are ready to use the seat in backless mode. To reattach the bottom, simply line it back up, and snap it back on.  The lower anchors stay with the top portion of the seat, so when using in a backless booster, you must remember to buckle the seat in when not in use.  Buckling the seat when not in use, or using the lower anchors in high back mode, prevents the seat from becoming a dangerous projectile.



Fit to Child: Backless Booster

Evenflo Transitions in backless booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions in backless booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Our versatile model from above is our model for our the backless portion.  She is 8 years old, 56 pounds, and 50 inches tall.  Once again, the Transitions provided an excellent belt fit in the backless mode.  One thing I would like to note about using in backless mode is that you really have to make sure that the shoulder belt is tucked underneath the lap belt guides by the buckle.  It tends to want to slip up and out.

Evenflo Transitions backless booster mode: 8.5 years old, 80 pounds and 51 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions backless booster mode: 8.5 years old, 80 pounds and 51 inches tall


Our second model for the backless mode is mode is 8.5 years old, 80lbs and 51 inches tall. The seat once again provided a fantastic belt fit.

Important Information: Where to find

FAA Approval: The Transitions is approved by the FAA for travel in harnessed mode only.  Because airplanes only have lap belts, boosters can not be used on the plane.  The FAA approval sticker is on the bottom left of the seat.
Expiration: When the Transitions was originally released, it came out with a 6 year expiration date, which could be found on a sticker on the back of the seat, and also on the bottom behind the recline lever.  However, since its release, Evenflo has confirmed that there is actually an 8 year expiry date on the seat.  For questions regarding the expiration date and when your seat expires, you can call Evenflo.
Evenflo Transitions cleaning instructions
Cleaning the seat: The J clips that are on the seat make taking the cover off for when kiddo has an inevitable spill.  Here is a screen shot of the manual on cleaning the seat.  The manual is the best resource for any questions about the seat in general, as well as specific questions about cleaning.

Overall Impressions

Overall impression of the seat is that it is an easy to use, comfortable seat that performs well in all functions: harnessed mode, high back booster mode, and backless mode.  The harness height yields a long-lasting seat in harness mode.  With the optimal padding on the bottom, it would suit even the pickiest child in terms of comfort.  With the added J clips, it makes removing the cover a breeze.  The buckle tongue holders also make for a seat that is easy to use, especially in the summer months, as it keeps the hot metal away from the child’s skin. At 19 inches wide, it’s also fairly narrow, which could be beneficial to those families that need to fit 3 across in a vehicle.

Want to win one for yourself?  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Originally written by Kim Robinson. Edits maintained by CSFTL.

Diono Cambria and Solana Review

The Diono Cambria is the newest booster seat from Diono. Many CSFTL Littles have been fans of the Diono Monterey for some time now; so we were excited to give the Cambria a try!


Diono Cambria high back mode

Diono Cambria high back mode

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • High-back booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • High-back booster height range: 38-63″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • Backless booster height range: 38-63″
  • Highest booster guide position: 20″
  • Expiration: 10 years 


  • Flexible lower anchor connectors
  • Retractable cupholders
  • Recline setting
  • Requires head support at all times


High back Mode

  • High back booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • High back booster height range: 38-63″
Diono Cambria high back mode

Diono Cambria high back mode

The Cambria is rated for children 4-12 years old, 40 – 120 lbs, 38 – 63″. CSFTL recommends utilizing a 5 point harness until your child has outgrown it and is at least 5 years old. Read more here about whether a booster seat is the right choice for your Little. The highest belt guide setting on the Cambria measures 20″ tall, making it a great, long-lasting choice. However, this seat requires head support to the top of the child’s ears at all times. Once the child’s ears go over the vehicle support, this seat is outgrown.

To use the Cambria in High back mode, place on the vehicle seat, thread the shoulder belt through the belt guide and the lap belt under the armrests and buckle. Diono recommends the booster sit flush with the back and bottom of the vehicle seat. The high back has a slight recline setting that can be used by pushing the backrest back until it clicks. The Cambria is equipped with lower anchor connectors that can be used if lower anchors are available in the vehicle. Unlike with harnessed seats, there are no weight limits, so can be used the full weight of the booster. Simply connect the anchors and pull the straps on the front of the seat to tighten them.


Backless Mode

  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • Backless booster height range: 38-63″
Diono Cambria/Solana backless mode

Diono Cambria/Solana backless mode


Once the child’s ears are above the top belt guide of the Cambria, they are too tall to use the high back mode. The Cambria’s back can then be removed, and used until the child reaches 120 lbs, 63″ or passes the 5 step test and is ready to ride without a booster. To remove the back, lay the back flat and lift the arms out of the hinges. This installation as well requires support to the top of the child’s ears. The same installation instructions apply to the Cambria in backless mode and the Solana as above. You will use the seat belt and can use the lower anchors if available.


Removing the Cambria backrest.

Removing the Cambria backrest.



The Cambria includes a flexible shoulder belt positioning strap for use in backless mode should the child need it to help properly position the shoulder belt.


Fit to Child

5 Year Old, 40 lbs, 40.5″

40.5", 40lb 5 year old in the Diono Cambria

Diono Cambria: 5 years old, 40 lbs and 40.5″

This child is very small for her age, closer to a 4 year old by height and weight. She does meet the minimums for using the Cambria, and gets a good belt fit when using the headrest in the bottom setting. The belt sits across her chest and on her lap. The Cambria is very generous with interior room and she’s very little, so it can look like the seat is “swallowing her up” but she said she feels comfortable and is happy to use the seat.  She can buckle herself without much trouble and is able to adjust the belt properly so that it is snug and fits her correctly. When using the seat in backless mode, she does not get a good shoulder belt fit without using the belt adjuster strap. Since the Cambria comes with that strap attached (and hidden under the cover on the bottom) that would definitely be recommended for smaller children. While there is no safety difference between using the back and not using the back as long as the child can get a good fit, I would probably recommend using the back for a younger booster rider, because generally he or she will need that extra support from the sides.


6 Year Old, 43 lbs, 47″

6 years old, 43 lbs and 47"

Diono Cambria: 6 years old, 43 lbs and 47″

This child carries most of his height in his legs, and is only on the first headrest setting. The Cambria gives him an excellent seat belt fit: placing the lap belt low on his hips, touching the tops of his thighs and the shoulder belt even across his collarbone and flush with his torso. He is very happy riding in the Cambria, the vertical spacing of the armrests makes it very easy for him to buckle himself, and the generous shoulder belt guide allows the belt to slide freely through as he buckles.

Diono Cambria head support

Diono Cambria head support

The Cambria has ample head and torso support, which makes for a comfortable ride whether he is awake or asleep.

7 Year Old, 48 lbs, 49.5″

7 year old, happily using the Diono Cambria in high back booster mode

Diono Cambria: 7 years old, 48 lbs and 49.5″


This child is a taller 7 year old and carries most of his height in his torso. Even so, he is not using the top “click” of the headrest, and would have lots of room to grow using the seat in high-back mode. He, too, can easily buckle himself and really loves that he does not have to buckle the seat during drop off at school in the mornings. He has some sensory issues and enclosed spaces make him uncomfortable, but the wide Cambria affords him lots of space and also a good bit of support for when he feels sleepy.  In backless mode, he gets a good fit without the shoulder adjuster strap, but seems to prefer using it. Belt fit can vary in different vehicles, so it is good to know that the shoulder belt adjuster strap has a convenient storage spot, and can be stowed or used easily.

9 Year old, 58 lbs, 52″

Diono Solana: 9 years old, 58 pounds, 52 inches tall

Diono Solana: 9 years old, 58 pounds, 52 inches tall

This model finds the Solana very comfortable.  It offers an excellent belt fit — the shoulder belt hits her right across the middle of her shoulder and the lap belt sits across her upper thighs.  The seat itself is a bit wide so she needs to move the Solana over a bit when to access the buckle stalk when she’s getting into the seat.  She’s a big fan of the cupholders.

Diono Solana: 9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52"

Diono Cambria/Solana: 9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52″

9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52″

This child is right at the limits of using the backless portion of the Cambria.  This is actually the Solana backless booster that is sold separately from the Cambria.  We’ve had a difficult time finding a booster to fit him and the Solana is doing a decent job at it.  It’s nice and wide for his wider hips, but the belt fit tends to fit somewhat low on his thighs.  He likes how deep and wide the seating area is and the cupholders are a bonus.  We also both love the lower anchor connectors so he doesn’t have to buckle it in after every ride.

Diono Solana Cambria fuzzy

Diono Solana fuzzy


One thing we’ve noticed after a month or so of use is that the cover tends to come off the front and slide up the booster.  The cover has since started getting ‘fuzzy’ on that corner from the repeated sliding on it.  After contacting Diono, they replaced the entire Solana seat for me.  They stated it wasn’t a safety concern, but was still under warranty.




Unique Features

Diono Cambria lower anchor connectors

Diono Cambria/Solana lower anchor connectors

Lower Anchor Connectors

The Cambria features flexible lower anchor connectors which help secure the booster seat when not in use, and also make it a little more stable for the child to climb in and out and buckle themselves. To extend the strap, push the button just above the front of the strap and pull the connector from the back. Attach each connector to the vehicle’s lower anchors, then pull from the front to tighten. The lower anchor connectors are upside down from the traditional direction that lower anchor connectors typically face. Because the lower anchors are only holding the booster seat and the seat belt is restraining the child, it’s fine to hook them upside down. If use of the lower anchors interferes with buckling the seat belt, do not use them.




Diono Cambria padding/cover

Diono Cambria padding/cover



The Cambria has EPE foam in the headrest and torso area to aid in side impact protection. There is also a small layer of comfort foam in the seating area to provide a comfortable ride for the child. The cover is easily removable and the manual recommends hand washing and air drying to clean.

The models featured in this review are the Shadow and Sunburst fashion, it is also available in Raspberry and Graphite.




Diono Cambria retractable cup holders

Diono Cambria retractable cup holders


Retractable Cup Holders

The Cambria has cup holders on either side, each side has a circular compartment for a cup and a smaller, rectangular component for a snack or other item. They retract nicely into the base when not in use or to save space in the vehicle. The only problem that we have run into is they retract easily, so it can be cumbersome to get buckled if there is a cup in the cup holder and it is bumped in a way that makes the cup holder try to retract.




Diono Cambria manual storage

Diono Cambria manual storage



Manual Storage

The manual is a bit hidden, it took me some searching to find upon initial receipt of the Cambria. When looking at the back of the backrest, there is a small sleeve on the left side where it tucks away.





Diono Solana

Diono Solana


The Diono Solana is the backless version of the Cambria — it’s sold separately without the back.  It is exactly the same as using the Cambria backless.  So if you are only in need of the backless portion and don’t need the high back option, the Solana is the way to go.  For information on Fit to Child, please the information above on Fit to Child: Backless booster portion.





Important Information: Where to find

Diono Cambria Solana Date of manufacture expiration

Diono Cambria/Solana Date of Manufacture and Expiration


Expiration: The date of manufacture can be found on the very bottom of the booster and the manual states on page 2 to not use the seat after 10 years.

FAA Approval: As with all booster seats, the Diono Cambria and Solana are not FAA approved due to airplanes only having lap only belts according to the car seat manual.Diono Cambria Solana FAA

Overall Thoughts

The Diono Cambria is a long-lasting booster seat with great ease of use and comfort features. It is a great option for children who have outgrown their 5 point harness and are ready to move into a booster seat. It can be found for under $100 on Amazon.com, making it an excellent value as well.

The Diono Solana is also a great long-lasting backless booster option.  It fits larger children well and is a great option for children not quite ready for the adult belt alone.  It can be found for under $50 on Amazon.com, also making it a great value for a backless booster option.

Diono has been gracious enough to allow two of our readers to win a Diono Cambria for themselves.  CSFTL will be giving away a Diono Cambria to both a United States AND a Canadian reader!!

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 8.10.12 AM


When entering using the Rafflecopter widget below, US residents must enter using the 1st ‘page’ of the widget and the Canadian residents must click the button under the photo of the Cambria to be taken to your entry.  Please be sure to enter using the correct entry form.



Diono provided the Shadow Cambria used in this review, CSFTL was not otherwise compensated and opinions, as always, are all our own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy Review

One of the rear facing only seats on our recommended list has gotten a makeover!  Like most good makeovers, only a few things have changed.  Without further ado, we present to you, the Cosco Light n Comfy.


CSFTL Quick Stats


Cosco Light ‘n Comfy

  • Weight range: 4-22lbs
  • Height range: Up to 29 inches, or less than 1 inch of shell above the head
  • Shell height: 19 inch shell height
  • Lowest harness position: 5.5 inch lowest harness height
  • Weight (carrier only): 8.9lbs
  • Expiration: December of the 6th year.
  • Handle: any locked position


  • Lower Anchor Storage hooks
  • Optional head support
  • 4 Harness slots
  • Front Adjust harness




Cosco Light ‘n Comfy seat belt installation


The installation of the Light ‘n Comfy is very straight forward, both with the base and without the base.  The only down side to the installation of the seat is that if you have vehicle seats that are sloped, you will need a tightly rolled towel, or a pool noodle to obtain the proper recline.





Cosco Light ‘n Comfy lower anchor installation



There are other versions of this seat, such as the luxe, that do come with a recline foot to assist with the correct recline.  There is a line on the side of the seat for obtaining the correct recline.  When the line is parallel with the ground, the seat is at the correct recline.





With the Base


Cosco Light ‘n Comfy lower anchor connector storage


When installing with the base, you can use either the lower anchors or the vehicle seat belt for installation.  If you choose to use the seat belt, there are hooks inside of the base for the storage of the lower anchors.  The belt path for installation is clearly marked.  The base and the way the carrier fits into the base are the two major changes from the Comfy Carry.





Cosco Light ‘n Comfy vs Cosco Comfy Carry base

As you can see below, the shape of the base is updated, and rather than attaching to the base closer to the feet, the Light ‘n Comfy attaches further back.  This makes it easier to snap the seat into the base, as the lower anchor straps are less likely to get in the way of setting the carrier in the base.


 Without the Base


Cosco Light ‘n Comfy baseless installation

Installation without the base is a convenient feature to save you money. This eliminates the need to purchase a base for different cars, or worry about uninstalling the base if baby spends the day with grandma or at a sitters. The belt path for the installation without the base is clearly market, with guides for the lap portion of the belt.  If you are using a lap and shoulder belt, only the lap portion of the belt goes through the guides.  Always make sure that you lock your belt whenever you are installing a seat.






Cosco Light ‘n Comfy stroller connectors


Using the Carrier

The carrier is very easy to use and at only 8.9lbs, the carrier is the lightest weight carrier on the market.  One important thing to note is that there are two red knobs on the side of the seat.  These knobs are what locks the seat into a stroller, so there is no need to panic if these don’t hook into the base.


Fit to Child


Cosco Light ‘n Comfy- Jo, 4 lbs., 17 inches


Preemie – 4 lbs, 17″

This is Jo, the CSFTL Huggable Images preemie. She is 4 lbs. and 17 inches long. The fit is the same on the Light ‘n Comfy as it was on the Comfy Carry. The Light ‘n Comfy offers an excellent fit for both newborns and preemies.  With the lowest harness slots being 5.5 inches, it is able to provide the correct fit for even the tiniest of newborns. Remember, when a child is in a rear facing seat, the harness straps need to be AT or BELOW shoulder level. The seat also has a starting weight of 4lbs.



Cosco Light ‘n Comfy small infant crotch buckle position




The biggest feature of the seat is that it allows you to reroute the crotch buckle, so that there is no slack, removing the need for a crotch roll.  The seat does come with a head support, but similar to the head support that came with the Comfy Carry, it can be cumbersome to use.  I found that especially when using it on the lowest slot, the head support was prone to bunching up behind the baby.




Cosco Light ‘n Comfy- Fiona, 7 lbs., 17 inches




Newborn – 7 lbs, 17″

This is Fiona, the CSFTL Huggable Images newborn. She is 7 lbs. and 17 inches long. The fit for the newborn is just as optimal as it is for the preemie. Once again, I found the head rest on the seat to be more in the way than helpful.  The ability to route the crotch buckle as noted above is beneficial to the newborn fit as well.  There is no weight limit on this special routing, however it can only be used in the inner most buckle slot. You want to use the buckle slot closest to your child, without them sitting on the buckle.







The Light ‘n Comfy is a very budget friendly seat.  This seat can usually be found for less than $70, it’s a basic seat that does the job well. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking ease of use features for the caregivers. The lower anchor storage hooks on the base keep them out-of-the-way when not in use.  The seat is the lightest weight rear facing only carrier on the market.  The seat also boasts a nice sunshade that can be moved to adjust to babies needs and block out the sun.  With 4 harness slots, and 3 crotch strap positions, it’s easy to find a position to fit your baby correctly.   The seat and the base are also both FAA certified, with the sticker stating this on the right side of the seat. The cover on the seat is easy to wipe off  and easy to remove.  The manual does recommend hand washing the cover.  It’s also important to note to never submerge the straps of your car seat.


Important Information: Where to Find


Cosco Light n Comfy FAA approval sticker


The Light ‘n comfy is approved for use on airplanes. The FAA approval sticker is located on the sticker to the left of the babies head.  The date of manufacture is also located on this sticker.




Cosco Light n Comfy expires in December of the 6th year after manufacture

Cosco Light n Comfy expires in December of the 6th year after manufacture



The expiration for the seat is December of the 6th year.  The year the seat expires is stamped into the mold of the seat, on the back.







Overall Thoughts

Since writing the review of the Comfy Carry, it is no secret that I’m quick to recommend the seat.  The same goes for the Light N Comfy, especially with the updated base. It’s a budget friendly, easy to use, and light rear facing only seat.  While it does have lower height and weight limits vs other rear facing only seats, it still provides a fantastic fit, especially for preemies.


Interested in a Light ‘n Comfy for your Little one?  You can find them at Amazon.com.


While Cosco provided the seat free of charge to the author, Cosco did not pay for or influence this review.   All opinions expressed, as always, are entirely our own.



Originally written by Kim Robinson. Edits maintained by CSFTL.


Car Seat Basics

Whether you’re a brand new parent or have a minivan full of Littles, it can never hurt to review the basics of car seat safety. Take a few moments to check all of these in regards to your child’s car seat – it might just save their life.


harness height

Harness should be at or above for forward facing and at or below for rear facing

Are the straps at the correct height?

When using a 5 point harness, the straps should be positioned at or below the child’s shoulders for rear facing; at or above the child’s shoulders for forward facing.






Chest Clip

Chest clip needs to be positioned over the child’s sternum


Is the chest clip positioned properly?

The chest clip is designed to keep the straps in position over the torso before a crash happens. It must be placed on child’s sternum, at his nipple or armpit level.






pinch test

Harness must always pass the pinch test


Are the straps tight enough?

Do the pinch test: pinch the straps vertically at the collar bone. If you can grab excess slack between your fingers and pinch it, the straps are too loose.






belt path

Check for less than 1 inch of movement side to side at the belt path

Is the seat installed tightly?

Your car seat should be installed so that there is less than 1″ movement side to side, and front to back when grasping at the belt path. That means where the seat belt or lower anchor connector strap feeds through the car seat. That is the only place you need to test for movement, not the top of the car seat.







Tether should be used for all forward facing car seats

Is the tether attached?

When installing a forward facing harnessed car seat, always use a tether if one is available. The tether reduces forward movement for  the child’s head and neck up to 6″ in a crash; so reconfigure seats if necessary so all forward facing kids are in a vehicle seat with a tether anchor.







Is your child in the right stage of seat?

Is your child in the right stage for their age?

Kids should ride rear facing until a minimum of age 2, ideally 3-4 years old; forward facing in a 5 point harness until 5+ years old, and in a booster seat until 10-12 years old.







All seats have expiration dates anywhere from 4-12 years after they were manufactured

Have you checked the date?

Car seats expire anywhere from 4-12 years from the time they were manufactured. This time frame varies depending on the manufacturer, but plastics break down over time and an expired car seat may not protect your child adequately in a crash. Read more about car seat expiration here.








Nothing bulky should go under the harness, even in winter


Have you removed coats before buckling?

Bulky coats put extra space between the child and the harness which will compress immediately in a crash and mean more distance the child’s body moves before coming to a stop. Remove coats before buckling up, they can be worn backwards over the harness, or use blankets in the car instead. Read more about safe winter options for the car here. 






Many seats should be replaced after a crash, even a minor one

Have you been in a crash?

Chances are, even if the crash was minor, and even if the children were not in the car, the car seat(s) may need replacing. Check your car seat manual to determine the rules for your seat. You can find more information about accidents and replacing your seat(s) here. 







Reading the manual for your car seat is a very important step

Have you read the manual?

We know, we know. The manual is long, it’s boring, it’s full of warnings…. but we promise, this manual is one you must read. Your car seat’s manual holds the keys to making sure your child is as safe as they can be in your vehicle. It’s worth the read. If you have misplaced your manual, contact the car seat manufacturer for a replacement right away.




These are just a few important items to note when selecting and installing the correct seat and harnessing your child in that seat. CSFTL always recommends reading the car seat and vehicle manual prior to using any seat, and visiting a CPST in person whenever your child is moving to a new seat, a new vehicle, or the next stage.


Originally written by Emma Douglas. Edits maintained by CSFTL.


Child Passenger Safety Dictionary


Whatever the reason for your interest in child passenger safety, there are many terms that you’ve likely never heard before, and will only hear when you’re talking about child passenger safety. Car Seats for the Littles wanted to compile a resource to help understand this secret language. This is definitely not exhaustive, but it is a good start.

Jump to a letter.   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


AMP-snuzzlerAfter Market Products (AMPs): 

The technical term for these products is “non regulated products”- which means they are not regulated by any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standard. Non regulated products are anything added to a car seat that did not come with the seat and has thus have not been crash tested with the seat; including head and body supports, harness strap covers, seat covers, toys, and many other items.

Additional information: Non regulated products






Diono Rainier Angle AdjusterAngle adjuster

This is a product specific to Diono convertible child restraints to position them at a more upright angle for older children and can add up to 4” more room behind the front seats for more front leg room.

Additional information: Diono Rainier Review









Automatic Locking Retractor (ALR): A seat belt retractor that locks automatically. Pull out any length of webbing and the retractor will remain in a pre-crash locked mode.

Video courtesy of CPS Board-  Watch on YouTube.

Additional information: Lock it up! How to Lock a Seat Belt for Car Seat Installation



Boulevard-w-ARBAnti-rebound bar (ARB)

An ARB stabilizes a rear facing child restraint by limiting rotational forces back towards the vehicle seat that is associated with front and rear collisions.







Graco_AffixEmmaBacklessBackless booster

A belt positioning booster seat that does not have a back.

Additional information: Proper Booster Fit









OobrBelt Guide

The portion of a high back booster that the shoulder belt routes through.

Additional Information: Proper Booster Fit










belt pathBelt Path

The part of a car seat where the seat belt or lower anchor strap routes through to secure the car seat to the vehicle.










Cambria_6yrBelt Positioning Booster

A child restraint that is used to position the adult seat belt over a child’s body.

Additional Information: Booster Seats: the Science Junkie’s Guide








Belt Shortening Clip

A belt shortening clip looks similar to a locking clip, but is significantly heavier. A belt shortening clip can be used when there is a lap belt with a sewn on latch plate that has an emergency locking retractor. The belt shortening clip must be purchased from the vehicle manufacturer, it does not come with the car seat and a locking clip may NOT be used as a substitute.

Additional Information: Lock it up! How to Lock a Seat Belt for Car Seat Installation




This is a term used to describe the installation of a car seat in a center seating position that does not have dedicated lower anchors, thus, “borrowing” one lower anchor from each outboard seat. Both the car seat manufacturer and vehicle manufacturer need to approve this type of installation.










When a rear facing car seat is putting pressure on the vehicle seat in front of it.  Most vehicle manufacturers and car seat manufacturers do not allow this type of installation.









Car seat manufacturer: http://www.britaxusa.com/

Customer service contact: 1-888-427-4829









bubble bumBubble Bum

Booster seat manufacturer: http://www.bubblebum.co/us/

Customer service contact: 1-800-969-6586

Additional Information: CSFTL Review








Headwise_buckleBuckle, car seat

The part of a car seat that connects the crotch and hip straps.











buckleBuckle, seat belt

The part of a seat belt that accepts the latchplate.











stalkBuckle Stalk

The webbing portion where the buckle anchors into the vehicle.










Car beds

Car Bed

A special needs child restraint for infants with a medical need requiring them to ride in a prone or supine position.








Continuous Harness 2Continuous Harness

A harness that is one large loop, allowing all the slack to be pulled out from one strap at a time.

Additional Information: Help! One of my car seat straps is tighter than the other!










Chest ClipChest Clip

The chest clip, also called a retainer clip, helps position the harness straps parallel across the child’s chest. It should be placed at the armpit or nipple level.











Chicco Keyfit 30Chicco

Car seat manufacturer pronounced kee-ko


Customer service: 1-877-424-4226







Coccoro RFCombi

Car seat manufacturer, pronounced com-bee.


Customer service: 1.800.992.6624

Additional information: CSFTL Coccoro Review








Graco Nautilus

Graco Nautilus

Combination Seat

A forward facing only child restraint that can be used as a 5 point harness or a belt positioning booster.

Additional Information: CSFTL Recommended Combination Seats











School Bus

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net




The type of occupant protection utilized in school buses.

Additional information from NHTSA: School Bus Crashworthiness








Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFitConvertible Seat

A child restraint that converts from rear facing to forward facing.

Additional information: CSFTL Recommended Convertible Seats











Car seat manufacturer pronounced sigh-bex


Customer service: 800-593-5522








Diono Rainier featured imageDiono

Car seat manufacturer pronounced dee-oh-no


Customer service: 1.855.GO.DIONO








Emergency locking retractor (ELR)

A seat belt retractor that only locks in an emergency.

Video courtesy of CPS Board-  Watch on YouTube.

Additional information: Lock it up! How to Lock a Seat Belt for Car Seat Installation




Cosco Scenera NEXT expirationExpiration date

The date after which a car seat is no longer safe to be used.

Additional Information: Car Seats, Why Do They Expire?







5pt harnessFive point harness

A harness with five attachment points: two at the shoulder, two at the hips, and one between the legs.











577471_10151577995014362_1937491432_nFive step test

The steps to check for a child to ride in a seat belt alone, without a booster.

Additional information: CSFTL 5 Step Test











Advance Air Forward FacingForward Facing

A car seat that faces forward in a vehicle.












The part of a car seat that restrains the child.










harness adjustHarness Adjuster 

The part that loosens or tightens a car seat harness. May be found on the front or the rear of the car seat.





GoandGrowlowestslotsHarness slots

The part of the car seat where the harness feeds through.











head restraintHead restraint

The portion of a vehicle seat that supports the head in a crash.













Diono_LittleTikesEmmaHigh back booster

A child restraint with a back that positions the adult seat belt on a child’s body.

Additional information: Proper Booster Fit; CSFTL Recommended High Back Boosters










lower anchor connectorLATCH

Lower Anchors and Tether for CHildren. All passenger vehicles and child seats manufactured after September 1, 2002, are federally mandated to have anchors for attaching the child seat directly to the vehicle rather than securing the child seat with the seat belt.

Additional information: LATCH: What’s the Deal with Weight Limits?











The part of the seat belt that connects into the buckle.











LockingClipSmooshLocking Clip

An H-shaped metal clip that comes with most car seats to lock a seat belt for car seat installation.

Additional Information: Lock it up! How to Lock a Seat Belt for Car Seat Installation. 






LockingLatchplateSmooshLocking Latchplate

A latchplate with a locking mechanism designed to lock the seat belt for car seat installation.

Additional Information: Lock it up! How to Lock a Seat Belt for Car Seat Installation. 








Argos80LockOffLock off

A clamp on the car seat designed to lock the seat belt for car seat installation.

Additional Information: Lock it up! How to Lock a Seat Belt for Car Seat Installation. 











Graco_AffixLowerAnchorLower anchor connector, clip style

The part of a car seat that connects to a vehicle’s lower anchors. This style clips on to the vehicle anchors and are attached to the car seat with a flexible webbing strap.











Lower AnchorLower anchor connector, push on

The part of a car seat that connects to a vehicle’s lower anchors. This style pushes on to the vehicle anchors and are attached to the car seat with a flexible webbing strap.












rigid foonfLower anchor connector, rigid

The part of a car seat that connects to a vehicle’s lower anchors. This style pushes on to the vehicle anchors and is attached to the car seat with rigid bars, rather than a flexible webbing strap.






Graco Milestone


A child restraint that converts from rear facing, forward facing, and belt positioning booster. Also called 3-in-1, 4-in-1, or all-in-1.

Additional Information: CSFTL Recommended Multi-mode Seats










rethread vs no rethread collageNo re-thread harness

A harness that can be adjusted in height without unhooking the straps from the splitter plate.









Flexible tubing that attaches to a vehicle’s air vent and extends heat or air conditioning to the rear seats.

Additional information: CSFTL Noggle Review










Non Regulated Products: 

Sometimes referred to as “aftermarket” products. Non regulated products are anything added to a car seat that did not come with the seat and has thus have not been crash tested with the seat; including head and body supports, harness strap covers, seat covers, toys, and many other items. They are not regulated by any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standard.

Additional information: Non regulated products










The amount of a car seat that hangs over the edge of a vehicle seat. Generally acceptable overhang is 20% of the car seat, however this can vary by car seat manufacturer.









overlapping seat beltsOverlapping seat belts

Seat belts that overlap into the next seating position when in use.











The Pinch Test: if you can grab the webbing and pinch it between your fingers, the harness is too loose. Fingers should slide right off when properly tightened.

Pinch test

Test to determine if harness straps are tight enough. Pinch the webbing at the child’s collar bone, if excess slack can be gathered between fingertips, the harness is too loose. Fingers should slide right off a properly tightened harness.









Scenera NoodlePool noodle

Some car seats allow the use of a pool noodle in the seat bight to achieve the correct recline. A tightly rolled towel can often be used for the same function.

Related information: Noodleless Install









Coccoro Puzzle BucklePuzzle buckle

A buckle that has tongues that must be puzzled together and inserted together into the buckle, they cannot be inserted independently.









FoonfRear Facing

A car seat that faces the rear of the vehicle.

Additional Information: Why Rear Facing, the Science Junkie’s Guide








LIghtNComf_LAInstallRear Facing Only Seat

A child restraint with no forward facing capability, often has a handle and a detachable base and is commonly referred to as an “infant” or “bucket” seat.








Diono Rainier rear face tetherRear Facing Tether

Using the tether with a rear facing convertible car seat. Only a few car seats allow this practice, and the vehicle manufacturer must allow it as well.










Graco MySize Recline Handle

Recline Adjuster

Mechanism that adjusts the recline positions of a car seat. May be a handle that allows the seat to slide along a base, a foot that flips forward or rearward, or a physical block or boot that attaches to the seat.










Graco MySize Recline Angle Indicator

Recline Indicator

The part of a car seat that indicates at what angle it should be installed. May be in the form of a line, bubble, dial, or other display.








The part of a seat belt system that gathers the webbing, typically hidden inside the body panel of the vehicle.








7 year old small RSTV

Ride Safer Travel Vest

Wearable belt positioning booster manufactured by Safe Traffic Systems.

Additional Information: CSFTL Review










seat bightSeat Bight

The “crease” of the vehicle seat where the back meets the bottom.










Graco Nautilus splitter plate

Splitter Plate

The metal piece where the harness straps connect to the adjuster strap on the back of a car seat.












Pipa Stability Leg CollageStability Leg

Also called a load leg or foot prop, this part extends from the front of a rear facing only car seat to the floor and aids in rebound management in a crash.












Part of the LATCH system, the tether connects the upper part of a forward facing car seat to an anchor in the vehicle.











tetherTether Anchor

The vehicle anchor for the car seat’s tether strap. May be located in the rear deck, ceiling, cargo area, or seat back, refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for details.







Little Tikes High Back Booster Review

At the 2014 ABC Kids Expo, Diono unveiled their plans to team up with Little Tikes and release a new line of high back boosters and backless boosters.  Without further ado, let’s look at the Little Tikes High Back Booster.


Little Tikes Booster

Little Tikes High Back Booster

CSFTL Quick Stats:

  • High back booster weight range: 40-120 lbs.
  • High back booster height range:38-63″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs.
  • Backless booster height range: 38-63″
  • Highest belt guide position: 21″
  • Expiration: 6 years from date of purchase
  • Requires head support from a vehicle head restraint behind it at all times








Little Tikes High Back Booster

Little Tikes High Back Booster


Out of the box, the Little Tikes booster comes in two pieces. To assemble, simply line the pieces of the back of the booster up with the base and lift the back up to snap it into place.  The first impression right out of the box is the seat is very light, which can be beneficial for caregivers who need to swap out seats frequently.  Another thing to note, while not a safety concern, straight out of the box the seat has a pretty strong odor. This dissipated about a week after use though.




Fit to Car

Using the Little Tikes booster is pretty straight forward.  The Little Tikes booster does not have lower anchor connectors. To keep the seat from becoming a projectile in an accident, the seat should be buckled in with the seat belt at all times.  The Little Tikes booster requires that the child have head support up to their ears from the vehicle head restraint.  This means that if you have a tall child, and a vehicle seat without adjustable head restraints, this seat may not be compatible. The belt guide on the seat is pretty straight forward and wide open.  This is beneficial because it keeps the belt retracting freely, ensuring a correct fit at all times.  This can lead to the belt coming out of the belt guide though. The booster is also required to have full contact with the vehicle seat back.


Fit to Child

High Back Mode



Little Tikes High Back Booster- 5 years, 46 lbs., 45"

Little Tikes High Back Booster- 5 years, 46 lbs., 45″

Model number one is a new booster rider, having recently turned 5.  When should your child make the switch to a booster?  When they are a minimum of 5 years old, meet the limits of the seat, and have the maturity sit correctly.  Model one is 5 years old, 46 lbs, and 45 inches tall.  Getting any opinion about a seat for her is difficult, because in her mind, if it isn’t Spiderman, it isn’t good enough.  With some prying, and maybe a little bribing, I got her to tell me that she said it felt “tippy.”  This is a pretty common feeling with newer booster riders in boosters without lower anchor connectors.  They need to learn to move with the seat as the car makes turns.  That comes with practice.


Little Tikes High Back booster- 8 years old, 50.5 inches, 58 pounds

Little Tikes High Back Booster- 8 years old, 50.5 inches, 58 pounds



Model number two is 8 years old, 50.5 inches tall, and 58 lbs. She’s a seasoned booster rider, and knows what she likes in a booster.  She made the comment that the booster was a little hard, but not uncomfortable. She liked that it had two cupholders for snacks and a drink. The booster provides a proper fit on her and with a high belt guide, will last her for at least another year.


Little Tikes No-Back Booster- 8 years old, 50.5 inches, 58 pounds

Little Tikes No-Back Booster- 8 years old, 50.5 inches, 58 pounds

Backless Mode

Model number two is 8 years old, 50.5 inches tall, and 58 lbs. When used in backless mode, the Little Tikes Booster comes with a seat belt adjuster. This model is tall enough and fits well enough that she does not need it. The adjuster can be helpful with certain seat belt types to provide a better fit for the child. This model will easily fit another 3-4 years until she passes the five step test.








Important Information: Where to Find

Little Tikes High Back booster manual under the cover

Little Tikes High Back booster manual under the cover


Manual Storage: Once the seat was out of the box, it took me a few minutes to locate the seat manual.  The manual and seat belt adjuster are both tucked underneath the bottom of the seat.



FAA Approval:  Like all belt positioning boosters, the Little Tikes High Back booster is not FAA approved because it requires a lap-shoulder belt. Even though it cannot be used on the plane, it’s still okay to bring it on as a carry-on item. The full seat is very light weight, but the backless portion is fairly wide, so might not be the easiest booster to travel with.


Graco Nautilus

Little Tikes High Back Booster has a 6 year expiration from the date of purchase



Expiration:  This booster has a 6 year expiration from the date of purchase.  This is unique, generally expiration dates go from the date of manufacture.  Because of this, it would be beneficial to note in your manual when you purchase the seat.  If the date of purchase has been forgotten, Little Tikes has said to count from the date of manufacture instead.  The date of manufacture can be found on a sticker on the bottom of the seat.






Overall Impression

Overall, Little Tikes has made a good booster seat.  It is well priced, light weight, and provides an excellent belt fit.  Another thing to note, is that like Diono boosters, the policy is to follow the NHSTA recommendations for replacement after a crash.

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Diono/Little Tikes generously provided us with this seat to review.  The reviewer received no compensation and all opinions are that of the author.
Originally written by Kim Robinson. Edits maintained by CSFTL.