Choosing a New Vehicle

Vehicle shopping is a daunting task. Many times, the sales staff descends upon you as soon as you enter the lot. If you need to quickly replace a vehicle, shopping can be even more stressful. If you are not in a time crunch, you have more time to weigh options. Two of the last three times we’ve chosen a new vehicle, we didn’t have the luxury of time.  As a family of seven, any old vehicle won’t do and when our main vehicle died a painful, unexpected death, we were suddenly living in a world of hurt.

Whether you have two weeks or two hours to make the decision, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a new vehicle.

Things to Consider

 

  • Make a list of features that are important to you: price, leather, heated mirrors, heated seats, Sirius radio, DVD player, inflatable seat belts, etc.
  • Make a list of features you need: number of seats, shoulder belts, head rests, tether anchors, storage, etc.
  • Take into consideration possible family growth/expansion- are you planning on having more children? Carpooling for school?
    Making a chart of possible seating locations for all children can be helpful. Where will the kids sit now? Two years in the future? Then two years after that? Do your children have only one spot they can sit in or are there multiple seating positions that work?
  • Talk to a CPST to help figure out what you will need for tether anchors or lower anchors. All forward facing harnessed seats should be tethered for optimum safety, so considering tether locations is essential when shopping for a family vehicle.
  • Research vehicles on IIHS for safety ratings.
  • Test car seats in the vehicle: this is especially important for rear facing car seats and when car seats need to be side by side.

 

Starting to Shop

Once you have lists of your wants and needs, visit the car lot. Do not be afraid to tell sales people you are merely looking and not purchasing yet. Also let them know you want to install your car seats in the vehicles they show you.

Many sales people will accommodate these types of requests. If they don’t, find another dealership. Needs for a vehicle will vary greatly family to family and it takes time to find one that fits.

Pro tip: don’t get hung up on one vehicle type. When our van died, we automatically went looking for a new van. However, we found that there were several SUVs that fit our family needs well instead.

Features to Consider

Head Restraints

The head restraints in newer vehicles can be incompatible with some car seats.

Any adult or booster rider that uses a backless booster needs to have head support to the tops of their ears. Make sure all seating positions have a head restraint that is high enough. In new vehicles, these restraints are generally designed to provide optimum protection for those not using a child restraint.

The design can then make installing a child restraint, including high back boosters, difficult or impossible. It’s very important to both try your car seats in the vehicle before you buy and read the child restraint manual to see if the car seat needs to be flush with the vehicle seat. Check the vehicle’s manual to see if the head restraints are removable.

 

Inflatable Seat Belts

 

Inflatable seat belts are labeled and will be thicker than a regular seat belt making them easier to spot.

Inflatable seat belts are labeled and will be thicker than a regular seat belt making them easier to spot.

 

Some model year 2011 and newer Ford and Lincoln vehicles, as well as some models of Mercedes have inflatable seat belt. This feature can be tricky for car seats.  Currently, only a few seats and boosters are approved for installation with the inflatable belts.  A car with this feature limits your choices in terms of where car seats can be safely installed.  For some seats you can avoid the issue by using lower anchors for installation but be mindful of lower anchor weight limits on your child’s car seat.

Vehicle Interior

Leather Seats vs. Cloth Seats

Know your car seat’s rules on seat protectors and what, if anything, is allowed under your car seat. Also know how to care for and protect whatever interior you choose. While shopping you might ask the dealership if they offer any upholstery protection options.

Lower Anchors

This lower anchor guide can help access lower anchors that are not easy to reach.

This lower anchor guide can help access lower anchors that are not easy to reach.

 

 

Check the vehicle’s seat bight for lower anchors. Are they easily accessible? Do you prefer lower anchor installation? Are there enough lower anchors for your needs? Sometimes the lower anchors on a car are buried deep into the seat bight, making them difficult to find and use. Some car seats have lower anchors guides available to help with this situation, see which type your potential vehicle has and decide if that setup works for your family.

 

Backseat Configuration

Middle Seat Hump

Sometimes the middle seat in the back comes with a significant hump.  This can make installing a car seat in this position difficult or impossible. A hump in the middle floor position can also make a seat with a load foot incompatible with that position as well. However, a back seat with a hump in the middle may be an option for a child who only passes the Five Step Test on slightly higher seats.

 

 

Overlapping Seat Belts

The vehicle seat belts overlap each other. This setup is unsafe for two passengers to be in these positions simultaneously.

Some vehicles have overlapping belts that make installation of three car seats impossible; in some cases using all three seats for child restraints will be prohibited by the vehicle’s own manual. Overlapping belts can be found in many sedans and even SUVs. Keep this in mind when planning your seating chart; overlapping belts can make  a vehicle with five seat belts functionally a four passenger vehicle.

Shoulder Belts

This seat belt in the Dodge Caravan does not come into contact with this child's shoulder making it a dangerous belt fit.

This seat belt in the Dodge Caravan does not come into contact with this child’s shoulder making it a dangerous belt fit.

 

All vehicle occupants who are booster age and above need a shoulder belt. Lap only belts can only be used for harnessed seats, and for forward facing harnessed seats  that position will also need a tether anchor.  Lap only belts can never be used with boosters and should not be used by adults or children who pass the five step test. Be sure the shoulder belts are designed to fit properly. Some vehicle belts are so far forward that they cannot safely restrain any passenger, though they may work for some high back boosters or harnessed car seats.

 

Side Bolsters

These are tricky little things that can really impede car seat installation, especially if you need to fit three across. A back seat may measure big enough to fit several car seats side by side, but when figuring bolsters into the equation, you may lose many inches of room needed to install the car seats in the outboard positions. Again, installing car seats before purchasing is an important step in deciding what car will fit your family.

Storage

Does the vehicle have enough room for your family’s gear?

Vehicle storage is an important consideration, especially for growing families! See if they vehicle has enough room to safely stow groceries, your stroller, sports gear, luggage, and other items. If not, are you able to adjust your load to fit the vehicle?

Tether Anchor Locations

Proper use of a tether anchor.

The tether anchor is the forward facing harnessed seat’s VIP (very important part). Check the vehicle to see if there are enough tether anchors for anyone who needs a harnessed seat.  When it comes to tether anchors, the more the better. More anchors means more flexibility with seating positions. Many minivans only come equipped with three tether anchors total and more cannot be added. Check all seating positions and the vehicle manual to be sure that the vehicle has enough tether anchors for your situation.The Car Seat Lady has a fabulous guide to lower anchor postitions in a variety of current vehicle models that may help with decision making.

Tether Anchors in Older Vehicles

If you are purchasing a car that was made prior to 2001, ask about retrofitting tether anchors to add additional tether locations. While this used to be more commonplace, tether retrofit kits are becoming harder to find. Chevy vehicles in particular are almost impossible to retrofit so keep that in mind when purchasing an older vehicle.

 

Vehicle Size

Just because it’s an SUV or minivan doesn’t mean that it will be big enough to fit three car seats across one row or have enough storage for your needs. The same goes for full sized sedans. Whatever your specific seating needs, make sure the vehicle can do what you need it to.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a new to you vehicle is not easy to begin with, but it can quickly become overwhelming when child restraints are added into the mix. Planning ahead is your best defense, but we all know that’s not always possible. We hope that this guide will help with your next vehicle purchase, whether you have time to plan ahead or not.

 

Originally written by Jennifer Penick. Edits maintained by CSFTL. 

What’s in your CPST Kit?

Originally published in May 2014. Updated in October 2015 and again in May 2016.

What’s in your CPST kit? It’s a popular question that Child Passenger Safety Technicians ask one another, so thought I would go through a tour of what I carry in my tech bag. A little background: I’ve been a CPST since 2010, and I’m about to be confirmed as an Instructor. I work for the fire department and I do a couple dozen checks a month. I have a storage trailer that contains my large backup of supplies, but here is what is in the bag that lives in my trunk and travels with me to every check.

Continue reading

Child Passenger Safety Technicians: How to Recertify

Child Passenger Safety Technician card

Child Passenger Safety Technician card

So you’re a CPST now. Congratulations!

For most new technicians, the first year or so is really about getting your feet wet. You’re getting the hang of working with parents and understanding different seats and vehicles. Once the initial class is complete, recertification can seem to be a ways down the road; until all of a sudden it’s two months before the expiration date and an email pops up reminding you to recertify.

The process can be a little confusing the first time, so we have created a guide to help walk both American and Canadian CPSTs through it. If possible, start early! You can complete the requirements at any time during your certification cycle, and submit them up to four months before your expiration date. Cycle dates will still stay the same, you can submit early without losing any time.

Requirements

Child Passenger Safety Technicians in the United States must renew their certification every two years (Canadians, scroll down for details!). Here are the requirements:

  • Perform 5 seat checks
  • Work at one community event — either a seat check event or a community workshop
  • Earn 6 continuing education units (CEUs)
  • Pay a renewal fee

Continue reading

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro Review

Car seat manufacturer Kiddy started in Germany and has a strong history in the children’s market there.  Kiddy currently offers a few seats in the United States including the Kiddy World Plus and the Cruiserfix Pro that we’ll review today.

The Cruiserfix Pro is a belt positioning booster that includes a variety of features that I would not have thought to include on a booster — adjustable thigh support, adjustable sidewings, rigid lower anchors, and shock absorbers. Those features contribute to the awards that this seat has won.

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • High back booster weight range: 33-100 lbs
  • High back booster height range: 38-60 inches tall
  • Highest booster guide position: 20.5″
  • Expiration: 8 years
  • Does not become a backless booster
  • Replace after 10 mph or faster crash
  • Does not require a vehicle head rest behind it
  • Required to be flush against the vehicle seat back

Features

  • Rigid lower anchor connectors
  • Adjustable length leg support
  • Torso support widens as the child grows and the headrest is raised
  • Thermotex fabric
  • IIHS Best Bet booster fit

Features

Padding

The Cruiserfix Pro is very cushioned with lots of room in the hip, torso, and shoulders.  I’m told that this padding makes for a very comfortable ride!

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro fully adjusted

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro fully adjusted

One unique feature about the Cruiserfix is that as the headrest is raised, the shoulder area expands as well.  This gives growing kids more room so their shoulders don’t feel squished in the booster. This made for just the right amount of support for my new booster rider — the side supports helped remind her to stay in place. However, the head rest area doesn’t expand so the child may feel more closed in by the head rest as they grow.

Thigh Support

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro leg support pulled out

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro leg support pulled out

The thigh extension is another unique comfort feature. This section of the seat pulls out to 4 different positions so that children with longer legs don’t slouch or leave legs dangling uncomfortably. This was my daughter’s favorite feature of the seat; previous seats have caused her to slouch due to lack of support in the thigh area.

Thermotex Fabric

The seat’s fabric is yet another comfort feature. Certain areas of the seat contain Thermotex fabric, which is designed to increase the circulation of air and keep the child from getting too hot.  When we first reviewed this seat, it was during the winter but since then we’ve had the chance to use the seat during some warmer weather and our models have nothing but good words to say about staying cool.

KSA — Kiddy Shock Absorber

Yet another unique feature on the Cruiserfix Pro is the Kiddy Shock Absorber. This feature borrows ‘crumple zone’ technology from the automotive industry, placing a shock absorber on both sides of the seat shell. The manufacturer describes this feature as follows:
“The vehicle seat belt rests against the KSA when installed properly. In the event of a collision the force of impact is transferred into the KSA and deforms the special crumple zone materials inside.”
Like all features that aren’t part of the FVMSS213 standard for car seats, we can’t assert one way or the other if this technology adds any safety to the seat; we can say that it has the potential to do so.

Rigid Lower Anchor Connectors

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro has rigid lower anchor connectors

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro has rigid lower anchor connectors

 

The Cruiserfix Pro is equipped with lower anchors, which Kiddy refers to as k-fix.  This allows the seat to be attached to the lower anchors of the vehicle, if your vehicle is equipped with them.  This is a convenience feature and prevents you from having to remember to buckle the seat belt in if it’s not in use.

 

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro has guides for the rigid lower anchor connectors

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro has guides for the rigid lower anchor connectors

Kiddy also includes guide funnels in case you have lower anchors that are buried deep within the seat bight.  The lower anchor connectors can also be pushed back into the seat if they aren’t being used in the vehicle, to prevent interference with the seat bight in a car without lower anchors.

When using the lower anchors with the seat, they will click (or “klick” according to the Kiddy Manual) into place.  You will know they are correctly attached to the lower anchors when the indicators on the attachments show green. Once the lock indicators show green, press the release button while pushing the seat towards the vehicle seat back.  The anchors are connected via a flexible stalk so the Cruiserfix Pro moves around a little when connected via these anchors. I found that this flexible stalk helped the Cruiserfix Pro sit nicely in my vehicle seat which has a bit of a dip to it.

Flush Against the Vehicle Seat

The Cruiserfix Pro requires the entire bottom of the seat be touching the vehicle’s seat and vehicle seat back.  If you have a vehicle with adjustable seat backs, make sure that they are in the upright position.  If the headrest of your vehicle pushes the booster forward, adjust or remove it so that the Cruiserfix Pro can sit flush against the vehicle seat back.  Check your vehicle manual to make sure that removing the head rest is allowed — if the head rest is creating a gap and cannot be removed from the vehicle, the Cruiserfix Pro’s manual suggests trying a different vehicle or seating position.

 

Fit to Child

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro seat belt guide

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro seat belt guide

The Cruiserfix Pro is a winner of the IIHS’s Best Bet for fit on boosters because it offers an excellent belt fit for children that are at the minimum age, weight, and height requirements for the seat. While we applaud this type of excellent belt fit, CSFTL recommends harnessing your child until they are mature enough to use a booster properly on every ride.

Shoulder Belt Guide

In addition to all of the other unique features of this seat, the shoulder belt guide is also unique.  Instead of just being a belt guide where the belt is threaded through, it has a release mechanism that makes removing the child from the seat easier.  By pressing down on the shoulder belt guide to release it, the seat belt feeds back into the vehicle’s seat belt retractor more smoothly.

Fit to Child

5 Years Old

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro: 5 years old, 45 lbs, 44 inches tall

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro: 5 years old, 45 lbs, 44 inches tall

At newly 5 years old, this model is at the youngest end of the age range we suggest for booster riding. He’s 5 years old, weighs 45 lbs and is 44 inches tall.  Before making the move to a booster full time, his family will take a hard look at how ready he is to sit properly on every drive.  One way to decide is by reading our article Harness to Booster, When to Make the Switch! We’re including him in this review to illustrate how well the Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro fits a variety of children, including some of the smaller riders.

6 Years Old

Kiddycruiserfixpro, cruiser fix pro, high back booster, no back booster, nbb, hbb, reclining booster, Kiddy

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro: 6 years, 49 lbs, 48 inches tall

This model is 6 years old, weighs 49 lbs, and is 48 inches tall. The shoulder belt lays nicely across the middle of her shoulder and the lap portion of the vehicle seat belt lays flat across the tops of her thighs. She was able to buckle herself in properly without too much fuss from the front seat.

6.5 Years Old

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro: 6 years old, 51 lbs, 47 inches tall

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro: 6 years old, 51 lbs, 47 inches tall

This model is 6.5 years old, weighs 51 lbs, and is 47 inches tall. The Cruiserfix Pro was her first dedicated booster — she had ridden in a harnessed car seat until this point. The wide, cushioned sides, and the easily accessible belt paths for the seat belt have made the Cruiserfix Pro a fan favorite from her first ride in the seat!

9.75 Years Old

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro 10 years old, 63 lbs, 55 inches tall

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro 10 years old, 63 lbs, 55 inches tall

This model is just days weeks away from her 10th birthday.  She weighs 63 lbs and is 55 inches tall.  According to the stated height limit of the seat, she has 5 inches of height left to grow in this seat. However, with the top shoulder belt height of 20.5 inches, she’s already outgrown the seat.

 

Important Information: Where to Find

FAA Approval

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro FAA Label

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro FAA Label

Because the Cruiserfix Pro is a booster seat, it’s not approved for use on aircraft. We’d suggest that families who would like to use the Cruiserfix Pro on an airplane trip pack the seat in a cardboard box, then check that box through as luggage.

 

Date of Manufacture

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro Date of Manufacture Label

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro Date of Manufacture Label

The Cruiserfix Pro has an 8 year expiration.  The date of manufacture is found on a label underneath the seat’s bottom.  The label also includes information on replacement after a crash.

Manual Storage

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro manual storage

Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro manual storage

The manual for the Cruiserfix is also very clear and easy to understand.  As a technician, anything that makes things easier to understand makes me very happy! It even comes with a handy storage compartment for the manual on the back of the seat.

Overall Thoughts

There are some specific situations where the Cruiserfix Pro shines — it fits well in the the third row of a Chrysler Town and Country, which is notoriously difficult for booster seats because of the sloped seats and awkward seat belt geometry. The Town and Country can also be tricky for high back boosters because the ceiling is quite low in the 3rd row, but the Cruiserfix fit nicely even with the headrest fully extended.

Because it has a small footprint, but wide top, it may not be ideal for three across situations unless you are placing it next to a rear-facing seat where the shoulder supports would not interfere with another seat.
My overall impression of the Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro is nothing short of love.  With its combination of unique and functional features and its comfort features, it makes this booster a top contender for families shopping in this price point.

Kiddycruiserfixpro, cruiser fix pro, high back booster, no back booster, nbb, hbb, reclining booster, Kiddy

The few minor drawbacks to the Cruiserfix Pro are the the seat’s weight (only an issue if you’re carrying it between vehicles on a regular basis) and that it does not convert to a backless booster. The fact that it does not convert to a backless booster does slightly shorten the lifespan of the seat, however my 10-year-old friend Ben, shown below, still fits nicely in the Cruiserfix!

I can’t end my review without mentioning my new friend Ben. Kiddy was kind enough to include him for my review of the seat; Ben is the size of an average 10-year-old. We know that kids need a booster seat until they are 10-12 years old, so he is perfect for evaluating how an older child will fit.  He has also become a familiar face at our dining room table.

 

 

kiddycruiserfixpro Want to win a Cruiserfix Pro of your own? Kiddy is offering a giveaway! One lucky reader will win! Enter the contest below for your chance to win.
Contest is open to US residents only, remember that CSFTL recommends your Little be at least 5 years old before riding in the Cruiserfix Pro.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Can’t wait for the contest to end and need one NOW?  Check it out on Amazon! Thank you to Kiddy USA for providing CSFTL with this AWESOME seat to review.  As always, we were not compensated for my opinion, all opinions are our own. Originally written by Kim Robinson, published December 2013. May 2016 edits and updates were made by Liz Tan.

Graco Extend2Fit Mini Review

We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Graco Extend2Fit. While we’re waiting, our guest author and CSFTL Facebook Forum Moderator Bridget has graciously given us a sneak peek at this exciting new seat! Thanks, Bridget!

The newest convertible seat from Graco has arrived after much anticipation.

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Rear facing weight range: 4-50 lbs
  • Rear facing height range: no stated limit in the manual
  • Forward facing weight range: 22-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: under 49″
  • Shell height: 30″ tall with headrest fully extended, to the top of the adjustment handle
  • Seated Height: 27″
  • Lowest harness position: 7″ with insert
  • Highest harness position: 18″
  • Expiration: 10 years
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 45 pounds

Measurements

  • Weight: 18.5 lbs

Features

  • Infant pad and head pad for added comfort
  • Premium push-on latch connectors
  • Six recline positions
  • Two position crotch buckle – 4.5″ and 6.5″ inches from the back of the seat
  • Ten position headrest
  • No re-thread harness
  • Two cup holders
  • Four position foot extender
  • Buckle pockets to store the crotch buckle tongues when the seat is not in use.

Pros

Graco Extend2Fit

Graco Extend2Fit

Did I mention that this seat can rear face to 50 pounds?  It is more affordable than some of the older names in the 40+ lbs rear facing car seat category, and smaller than its similarly priced Safety 1st counterpart, the Advance EX Air+.

Buckle Pockets

Graco Extend2Fit Buckle Holders

Graco Extend2Fit Buckle Holders

The Extend2Fit offers handy little pockets that can be used to store the crotch buckle tongues when the seat is not in use.  These pockets allow the strap to be stored out of the way of children being placed in or climbing into the seat, helping to prevent the dreaded “digging for buckles” that often happens when the straps get stuck beneath a squirming child!

The Extend2Fit is easily adjustable to fit to the child and to the car.

  • Recline: there are 6 recline positions.  Positions 1 through 4 can be used rear facing, positions 4 through 6 can be used forward facing.  When forward facing children between 22 and 40 pounds, position 4 MUST be used.  For children over 40 pounds, positions 5 or 6 must be used.  There is a ball indicator that will show if you’re within the correct rear facing range.  Like several other Graco convertibles, the Extend2Fit has a good recline for newborns under 3 months old.  Once a baby is 3 months old or older, the Extend2Fit can be set very upright, which makes it very compact.
  • Headrest: the adjustable headrest has 10 positions, and is very easy to move from one to another.  Since the Extend2Fit uses a no-rethread harness, adjusting the headrest also adjusts the harness height.  The lowest harness position is 7″ (with the infant insert in place), while the highest position is 18″.
  • Foot extender: this is the piece that makes this seat truly unique.  As the child grows taller, the panel can be extended to help them feel more comfortable.  While this is not truly a concern (children are much more bendy than we adults, and can be comfortable in many positions we would find difficult to manage), this feature may help many parents be comfortable with extended rear facing.

Installation

  • The rear facing lower anchor install is pretty easy.  No new tricks were needed, although you might need to get behind the seat to help compress it with your hips.
  • The rear facing seat belt install took a little doing, thanks to the narrow belt path openings.  Still, I’ve seen much harder seat belt installs.  Like the latch install, compressing with your hips may be necessary.
  • I didn’t attempt the forward facing latch install: if you max out the rear facing limits of the seat, you’ll have switched to a seat belt install already anyway.
  • The forward facing seat belt install was much easier than the rear facing install, so far as threading the seat belt through the belt path.  This is due to the way the seat padding can be lifted away from the forward facing belt path.  The top tether is easily used and easily stored when not doing a forward facing belt path.

Cons

Graco Extend2Fit 3 Year Old Model

Graco Extend2Fit 3 Year Old Model

Removing the cover and putting it back on is not as simple as I would prefer.  So far, I have only removed the cover near the bottom of the seat (underneath the child’s feet), which is necessary to install the mandatory cup holders and to move the latch strap from one belt path to another.  In order to remove this portion of the cover, here is an elastic band and hook on each side of the seat that must be unhooked.  The hard part (for me) is hooking the elastic band back around the hook.  I have discovered that extending the extender panel all the way exposes the hook, making the process easier.  I’m certain practice will make this easier.

The lowest harness slot is 7″ with the infant pad in place. This is about the right height to fit an average or larger baby, but it may not fit a smaller baby or a preemie.  Unfortunately, this convertible will likely not be a first choice as a “from birth” car seat.  However, it should fit once the small baby has a month or two of growth added to their torso.

Measuring across the cupholders, the Extend2Fit is 20″ wide, and it is 19.5″ wide across the head wings.  It’s not the narrowest of car seats, and might not be the most friendly for a three across situation.  It would work just fine in my Honda Odyssey’s 2nd row, but I wouldn’t want to try it with three across in the third row.

Overall Impression

graco-extend2fit-fully-extendedSo far I am very pleased with this seat.  I’ve installed it in multiple seating positions in several different cars, and have found it to install easily and quickly.  I’ve also compared it to my Chicco NextFit and my Cosco Scenera NEXT and have found the Extend2Fit to be much more compact than both of those seats (when the extender panel is completely stored).  My 10 month old seems to enjoy it, as he falls asleep almost every time we’re in the car.  I haven’t been able to get my 3 year old to try it, but I think that has more to do with him being 3 than anything else.

All in all, there are a few situations where I’m not comfortable recommending this seat (newborns or three-across situations) but if you are in need of a high-weight rear facing seat or a seat that can be installed very upright and very compact, the Extend2Fit is going to be one of my top recommendations.

RECALL: Canadian Tire Apramo and Kukuxumusu Booster Seats

Kukuxumusu Booster Seat

Kukuxumusu Booster Seat

Transport Canada has announced a recall on Canadian Tire Apramo and Kukuxumusu Booster Seats for non compliance with stiffness and flammability requirements.

Consumers who own these booster seats should secure a replacement seat for their child, then return the recalled booster seat to Canadian Tire for a full refund.


Recall Summary

Full Text of the Recall

Manufacturer:

Transtek Automotive
Address: Fl 6h, Unit C16, No.299 Guanghua Road, Ningbo, China, 315103
Tel #: 0574-87856611
Email: 2846053608@qq.com

Importer and distributor:

Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited
Address: 2180 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4P2V8
Consumer contact:

English: 1-800-387-8803
French: 1-800-565-3356
Media Contact:

Canadian Tire Communications, 416-480-8453, mediainquiries@cantire.com

Models affected:

Apramo:

Model Name: NB BOOSTER SEAT
Model Number: 046-6045 (K11-1618CTC)

Model Name: NB BOOSTER PROMO
Model Number: 199-5607 (K11-1631CTC)

Kukuxumusu:

Model Name: KUKU BOOSTER BLUE
Model Number: 046-0735 (KU20143CM)

Model Name: KUKU BOOSTER PINK
Model Number: 046-0736 (KU20153CM)

Dates of Manufacture:

Apramo: September 2013 to September 2015

Kukuxumusu: February 2013 to September 2015

Number of Units:

87,230

Geographical Distribution:

Across Canada

Issue:

Transport Canada and Canadian Tire Corporation, Ltd wish to inform the public of non-compliances of booster seats imported by Canadian Tire.  Specifically, neither the Apramo nor the Kukuxumusu branded booster seats meet the stiffness requirements of theMotor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Seats Safety Regulations.  Furthermore, the Kukuxumusu branded booster seats do not conform to the flammability requirements of the Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Seats Safety Regulations.

Safety Risk:

Transport Canada’s compliance testing program revealed these concerns and notified the company.  The regulations require booster seats to comply with a test that measures their stiffness.  If a booster seat does not meet this requirement, there is an increased risk of injury in the event of a vehicle collision.  Additionally, in the event of a vehicle fire, the fabric covers of the Kukuxumusu booster seats may not self-extinguish or may burn too quickly, accelerating the spread of the fire.

Company Action:

Canadian Tire is issuing a consumer recall and a withdrawal order instructing stores to return any remaining units to Canadian Tire Corporation for disposal. Canadian Tire will contact known customers of the affected product and will post signs in stores alerting consumers of the recall and will be issuing refunds to all consumers that return affected models.

Consumer Recourse:

Consumers should discontinue use of their product once they have obtained an alternative booster seat and return the affected product to the store. All Canadian Tire stores have been instructed to refund any consumer who returns their booster seat.

Read the full text of the recall notice

Canadian Recall: KidsEmbrace Cinderella Combination Booster

Kids Embrace Friendship Series Cinderella Combination Booster Seat

Kids Embrace Friendship Series Cinderella Combination Booster Seat

On January 4, 2016, Transport Canada announced the following recall on the Kids Embrace Friendship Series Cinderella Combination Booster Seat.

The Issue

An English label incorrectly states the booster seat can be used for children with a minimum weight of 14 kg (30 lbs). The weight range is 18 to 45 kg (40 to 100lbs).

The Resolution

Do not use this product as a belt-positioning booster if the child weighs less than 18 kg (40 lbs). Families who own this seat can contact Kids Embrace for an updated label.  See below for the full recall information and instructions for receiving a new label.  Affected seats can be used while the recall kits are being shipped.


Full Statement from Transport Canada

Issue

KidsEmbrace and Transport Canada wish to inform the public of a non-compliance involving certain Friendship series Cinderella combination restraint systems/booster seats.  An English label incorrectly states the booster seat can be used for children with a minimum weight of 14 kg (30 lbs). The weight range is 18 to 45 kg (40 to 100lbs). The French label and the instruction manual provide the correct information.

Safety Risk

If a consumer follows the English booster label weight recommendation, they may prematurely remove the internal harness of the restraint to use the car seat as a belt-positioning booster when their child reaches 14 kg (30 lbs).  The French label and instructions do indicate the correct minimum weight of 18 kg (40 lbs) when using the seat as a booster.  Both KidsEmbrace and Transport Canada encourage consumers to use the car seat with the internal harness up to the maximum weight of 30 kg (65 lbs), provided the child also meets the height recommendations.

Company Action

Transport Canada’s research program uncovered the non-compliance condition.  Upon being made aware of the issue, KidsEmbrace reviewed the labels and instructions immediately and ensured that all new production labels would have the corrected weight of 18 to 45 kg (40 to 100 lbs).  Any consumer making contact with Trillium Sales and Distribution or KidsEmbrace will be advised to use the Cinderella car seat as a belt-positioning booster when their child reaches 18 kg (40 lbs) and not 14 kg (30 lbs).

Trillium Sales and Distribution will contact all registered consumers and provide them, free of charge, the updated label together with instructions how to affix it over the existing label.

Consumer Recourse

Consumers should ensure that they are not using the product as a belt-positioning booster if their child weighs less than 18 kg (40 lbs).

All non-registered consumers or consumers who have moved are encouraged to contact KidsEmbrace, LLC by email or by phone for instructions on obtaining the replacement label. The affected seats should not be returned to retailers or the company.

Manufacturer

KidsEmbrace, LLC 
4820 Rusina Road Suite C
Colorado Springs CO
80907 USA

Consumer contact

Customer Service

1-866-947-3287
Email: info@kidsembrace.com
Models affected

KidsEmbrace Friendship Series Cinderella Combination Booster Seat

Model Numbers:
40000CINCAN

Dates of Manufacture

2015-02-02 and 2015-02-06

Number of Units

560

Geographical Distribution

Across Canada

Consumer Reports 2015 Convertible Crash Test Results

Last year Consumer Reports changed their crash testing criteria used to evaluate rear facing only seats. This year, they have expanded that testing to convertible seats. From the Consumer Reports website, “Changes from the way that convertible seats were rated previously include using a test bench that better simulates the vehicle seat design from a contemporary vehicle, with more representative cushion stiffness and seat geometry and incorporation of a “blocker” to simulate a front seatback. The new test also runs at a higher 35mph speed, with other representative dynamic characteristics that better simulate the behavior of contemporary vehicles during a crash.”
 

This sounds like good news, but can be very confusing for parents. Here are a few things we would like you to know about the ratings.

 

2010 Ford Flex

2010 Ford Flex

1. We don’t know what, if any, difference this additional protection would make in real world crash data. We know that variables like the vehicle the car seat is installed in can affect performance. Consumer Reports used a 2010 Ford Flex captain’s chair for their testing. While this does more closely match current vehicles over the old test bench, results won’t be identical in other vehicles. When used and installed properly, we know all car seats are safe and offer optimum protection to Littles and not so Littles alike. Choosing a child restraint that fits the child, fits the budget, and can be used and installed properly every time are still the most important things when picking a new car seat.

 

 

2. 35 mph crash tests are more severe than the majority of crashes. This is the equivalent of driving head-on at 35 mph into a car also moving 35 mph, or like hitting a concrete barrier. Even the 30 mph required for federal car seat testing is considered a severe crash.

 

The Cosco Scenera NEXT retails for $46 and will keep most children safely rear facing until their third birthday.Rear-facing Cosco Scenera Next

The Cosco Scenera NEXT retails for $46 and will keep most children safely rear facing until their third birthday.Rear-facing Cosco Scenera Next

3. Price doesn’t equal safety. If anything, the Consumer Reports results show that more expensive doesn’t always mean safer. Using and installing a seat properly will offer good protection in a crash. All seats are safe when used properly. The Consumer Reports model is based on the idea that some seats offer additional protection over others. This may be true, but we just don’t know. Crash test results are not released to the general public and currently, crash test requirements in the US are very stringent, meaning any car seat sold offers great protection (when used and installed properly) in the event of a crash.

 

4. There’s no reason to rush out and buy a Consumer Reports Membership. Using the guidelines from above will help when choosing a new car seat. Following best practice recommendations further increases protection and is the best tool for keeping kids as safe as possible. Purchasing a seat with a higher Consumer Reports Rating that won’t allow a child to rear face as long as possible, or doesn’t fit properly in the vehicle, is counter productive. Our recommended seat list can be a good jumping off point to narrow down seat choices of all types.

 

This 16.5 pound, 29 inch, 1 year old still safely fits in her rear facing only car seat with a 35 pound and 32 inch limit.

This 16.5 pound, 29 inch, 1 year old still safely fits in her rear facing only car seat with a 35 pound and 32 inch limit.

5. Consumer Reports raised concerns in their article that children in rear facing only seats may be at a greater risk of head strike on the front vehicle seat after age 1. This is an arbitrary age as we know not all 1 year olds are the same size. Some children will outgrow rear facing only seats before 1, some won’t until after age 2. It’s important to note that at 22 lbs. and 29″ tall, the dummy used to make this determination is at the limits of many rear facing only seats. If a child is within the limits for the rear facing only seat, and the seat is used properly, there is no cause for alarm. Please don’t feel like transferring to a convertible right away is required if the child fits properly and the seat meets the needs of the caregivers. Also keep in mind though, rear facing only seats are outgrown in three different ways. Once a child hits the weight limit, standing height limit, OR head is within an inch of the top of the car seat, the seat is outgrown and they must move to a rear facing convertible, especially if under the age of 2. We recommend selecting your child’s next seat before it is absolutely outgrown. This allows time to research which seat would work best for the child, vehicle, and budget.

 

 

6. Consumer Reports has maintained that even car seats that received a Basic crash test rating, as opposed to Better and Best, are still considered safe and performed well overall.  There is no reason to stop using the current car seat or to purchase a new one if the child still fits the limits of the seat.
 

While we applaud Consumer Reports for trying to make choosing a car seat easier for caregivers, we would caution against using their data as the sole source of research when choosing a new seat. All car seats are safe when used and installed properly and we encourage caregivers to focus on a seat that fits the child, budget, and can be used properly every single ride.

 

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
  • Older versions have a 6 year expiration, newer ones are 8 years (check the manual)
  • 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.

 

Features

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_Montereycupholders

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_MontereyEmmaHBB

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.  Older versions expire in 6 years, newer ones in 8 years (check the manual).

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.

Pros

  • Lots of head/torso support
  • Wide and deep seating area
  • Has lower anchors
  • Adjustable back support fits a variety of builds

Cons

  • Requires a vehicle headrest behind it.

 

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.

diono

 

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.

therightseat

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.