A Carseat Nerd's Blog

A Carseat Nerd's Adventures in Carseats

Extreme Safety Lessons (TEXT HEAVY) December 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — carseatnerd @ 11:36 pm

With kids, sometimes it takes an extreme lesson to truly make an impact. Sometimes, you have to get creative with your safety lessons to really help them understand that you’re not just being mean and trying  to ruin their fun.

My kids are the kind of kids who want to know why something is unsafe. We watch crash test videos. We have vivid safety lessons. To show them why their car seat harness has to be snug, we let them adjust the harness in our lightest weight seat, and my husband flipped the seat upside down. Have you ever ridden a roller coaster with the harness too big? When you go upside down, you hit the harness pretty hard and it isn’t comfortable. Same thing with the car seat harness. Then we adjusted the harness correctly, and suddenly it became funny to be upside down since they were simply and comfortably suspended there.

When explaining that a second story bedroom window was not a safe place to play near, we had them stand on the sidewalk below the window. Then I dropped an over-ripe watermelon out of the window. The exploded melon made quite the visual impact when we explained that that  is what could happen to your head if you fall out of the window.
Some parents think even those lessons are too harsh.   Those parents would definitely not like my most recent safety lesson….
A little background information:
We ride off-road motorcycles as a family. We take the appropriate precautions to decrease the risks in our activity. The boys have roost guards, proper riding boots, gloves, goggles, and DOT approved off-road helmets.  My husband has all of that, plus knee and elbow pads (we do have knee pads for the older son, but he won’t wear them). I don’t have knee/elbow pads or a roost guard.  On the bottom of all of our helmet visors, I have taped a copy of the Emergency Information card that Sunshine Kids/Diono attaches to their Radian car seats.


Some children even wear their full motorcycle gear to ride their bicycles.  (He is not wearing his motorcycle boots here, but his hiking boots.)

Some children even wear their full motorcycle gear to ride their bicycles. (He is not wearing his motorcycle boots here, but his hiking boots.)

My husband and I both  carry our cell phones, which work in our local riding area, and our wallets with ID and health insurance cards. Hubby also carries a backpack with snacks, water, and a well-stocked first aid kit. At some point, I will edit this post to include a list of what is in our FAK.
Our family knows where we ride and when to expect us to return.  When we all ride together, we sandwich the boys between the adults to ensure that the kids are visible and protected by a full sized rider since most other riders are likely not watching for half-sized bikes. We added bright flashing front and rear LED lights to both kid bikes to maximize their safety. The boys were not allowed to ride a motorcycle until they had ridden a bicycle for a full year. They learned in the safety of our fenced yard under close supervision. Their bikes have throttle limiting screws so we can control how fast they are able to go. They have to be able to lift the bike from a 45-70 degree angle. Their bikes weigh 125 lbs for the 7 year old, and 85 lbs for the 5 year old. Neither of them can lift their bikes if they are fully on their sides, but usually the side of the trail is such that the bikes are rarely totally on their sides.
My husband has been riding motorcycles for 20 years, both on and off-road. I used to ride on the back of his street bike with him in our BC (Before Children) days. He sold his street bike shortly after our oldest son was born because of the inherent risks of being on a motorcycle in a country traveling in cars and SUVs.  Our older son began riding August 2012, and our younger son started riding July 2013. I started riding my own motorcycle in about June 2013, so even our 7 year old has more experience than I do. I ride at the end of the line, and frequently have to get off my bike to run up and help a kid bike over a branch or help pick up a bike on its side.

Our typical riding order. Hubby is turning his bike back around, as he had circled back to us after checking how much further ahead we could find a spot to break to hydrate and snack. Clearly, we are slacking here. Hubby isn't even wearing a long sleeved shirt, or his elbow guards. Neither child is wearing their roost guard, and the younger son is wearing BOGS boots instead of his riding boots.  Not that it's a good excuse, but it was about 90* and we spent three days straight riding most of the day.

Our typical riding order. Hubby is turning his bike back around, as he had circled back to us after checking how much further ahead we could find a spot to break to hydrate and snack.
Clearly, we are slacking here. Hubby isn’t even wearing a long sleeved shirt, or his elbow guards. Neither child is wearing their roost guard, and the younger son is wearing BOGS boots instead of his riding boots.
Not that it’s a good excuse, but it was about 90* and we spent three days straight riding most of the day.

And now my (hopefully) very effective, but very expensive safety lesson.
On Sunday, October 6th, 2013, we went riding as a family at a riding area about an hour and half North of our home. It is a sanctioned and maintained legal off-road vehicle park. My husband has ridden there often. I’ve ridden there about 4-6 times. There’s a variety of trails, from fairly flat forestry roads to pretty technical trails for advanced riders. We ride a lot of the roads, but also ride the easier wooded trails the even little kids and new riders can navigate, perhaps with a little help from an experienced rider. On this particular ride, our younger son didn’t want to ride his own bike, but chose instead, to ride with Daddy on Daddy’s bike. He sits in front of hubby and holds on to the cross bar of the handle bars. I fully trust my husband to ride safely and use his best judgement to avoid risks to our son.
We rode for a few hours and decided to head back to the car for a snack and potty break around 2pm.  To get there, we had to ride a few miles on the forestry roads. No big deal.
Unless you ride behind a not-quite-seven year old. You see, young children are prone to random actions, including stopping suddenly for no obvious reason. My son stopped, for no obvious reason in the middle of the road. I was following at a safe distance, but lack the experience to respond quickly and  appropriately every time. So I grabbed my front brake instead of us

ing my rear brake. I was going slow, so I didn’t fly over the handle bars, but I did drop my bike and slide across the road Superman style, because I never learned to tuck and roll as a child because I am not a risk-taker. I got back up, picked my bike up and got back on. I went to pass my now moving son to tell Hubby we  needed to break to explain to children that you cannot just stop to look at butterflies or whatever.
And he DID IT AGAIN. This time, his pushed up sleeve had fallen down, so he stopped to push it back up. This time, however, I was not at a safe following distance because I was getting ready to pass him.  And because I am apparently not a fast learner, I grabbed my front brake AGAIN.  This time I was not so lucky as to slide across the road on my stomach.
This time, I slammed my right foot down as the bike was going down. Apparently, with my knee locked.  All I know is that I was rather suddenly knocked on my butt with pain. I collapsed on the ground, rolled onto my back, grabbed my leg and screamed a string of obscenities I won’t repeat here. They just came out. That’s when Hubby knew there was a problem. He parked his bike, got the little guy off and ran (on his sprained knee) in his riding boots the short distance up the hill to where I was writhing in pain. He asked what happened and I told him, “I broke my ******* leg.” He naturally asked if I was sure.  Um, yes. He removed my boot and the lower part of my zip-off pant leg to check for protruding bones or places in obvious need of major stabilization.
I told him to get me the FAK. We wrapped my knee in the Ace bandage with the instant ice pack and downed four ibuprofen. Then I added my neoprene wrist wrap at the top because the bandage wasn’t enough. I already no longer had a knee; just a really long thigh.

What kneecap? This photo was taken within minutes of injury.

What kneecap? This photo was taken within minutes of injury.

Now the fun part was figuring out how to get me to the hospital. We couldn’t get the car past a gate a mile down the road. We had to get me down the hill. On the back of the motorcycle. I had to hold my leg up with my pant leg and hope for the best. Hubby was careful to go slow and avoid bumps. He did very well too! My leg only touched the ground once in a mile.  He left the Young One with me at the gate and rode back up to where he had left his bike with the Older One…on the Older One’s little bike.  When they returned to us, Hubby left both boys with me while he rode back to the car much more quickly than he could have with either kid with him.
He loaded his bike up and came back to us. The boys were actually very helpful in loading up bikes and gear. I was pretty calm and collected considering I had a broken leg. Hubby helped me carefully wedge myself into the front seat with minimal movement of my throbbing leg, and got in the driver’s seat. While he drove toward the main road, I programmed the GPS to find the nearest ER. Then I called both of our Moms. One was to meet us at the ER, one was to head to our house to collect the kids after Hubby dropped me off at the hospital.

My leg with field bandaging off at the ER

My leg with field bandaging off at the ER

I went almost immediately into radiology. The technician contorted his face all over the place as he viewed my imaging. I can’t imagine why…(sarcasm) He called it “crunchy”.

xray 2

My tibial plateau is broken in five places. There is a horizontal break going all the way around, then four vertical breaks going down to the horizontal break,

My tibial plateau is broken in five places. There is a horizontal break going all the way around, then four vertical breaks going down to the horizontal break.

The orthopedic surgeon for the hospital looked at my images and came into my room to tell me that he would not touch me, but I needed surgery if I wanted to walk again. He had already ordered an ambulance for me and notified our regional trauma center that I would be en route shortly. As much fun as that sounded, I really wanted to avoid all that but the threat of losing my leg sounded much worse. They pumped me full of pain meds and loaded me up.

Let's get this party started!

Let’s get this party started!

Off I went to our regional trauma center! Yay? Hubby met me there as I was being checked in in ambulance receiving. I spent the night in the Orthopedic Trauma floor, waiting for the swelling to go down enough that the surgeon would have a good chance of a successful surgery. If swelling didn’t go down significantly, they would have to attach an external fixator to my leg for a week to stabilize it and operate later.
On Monday afternoon, I finally headed into the OR. The surgeon was hopeful that she would be able to stabilize my bones without needing to utilize bone grafts (read: dead people bone tissue), and that I would walk again, but it was an extremely delicate procedure that would involve a titanium plate and pins on a bone very close to a major joint.  I woke up 5 hours later without an x-fix, which I was very glad of. But my view was still a little unsettling.

A lovely thigh high boot, isn't it?

A lovely thigh high boot, isn’t it?

My new x-ray images look like an Erector set. There is a seven inch long plate and thirteen screws holding the tibial plateau together.
xray post op2 xray post op 1

I ended up staying at the trauma center until Wednesday. I called the Older One’s school and let him stay home on Monday with Nana and Grandma. When I came home, I came with the instructions to be completely non-weight bearing on that leg for three full months to allow it to heal. It has been a long  and difficult road to recovery, for all of us, but we’re making it with the help of family and friends.

Battle scars

Battle scars, post suture removal, but pre-shave.

The important lessons for the kids?
1) Don’t tailgate.
2) Don’t stop for no reason.
3) Learn to use your safety equipment (like brakes) properly and practice until everything is second nature BEFORE you need it.


Evenflo Sympony 65 E3…I kinda like it! April 1, 2013

Filed under: Seat Reviews,Uncategorized — carseatnerd @ 6:18 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Last weekend, I was asked to present Child Passenger Safety to a group of women training to transport foster children. Of course, I was happy to do so! Part of my presentation was letting them touch and oogle seats that might work for their varying needs. They would need to transport kids from newborns through 12 safely and lawfully, while purchasing as few seats as possible and with a tight budget.
I borrowed a few seats from friends to play with and let them explore, one of which was an Evenflo Symphony 65 E3.
Per Evenflo,

For Use Rear-Facing Child Must Meet All These Requirements

  • Weight: 5 – 40 lbs (2.3 – 18kg)
  • Height: 19 – 37 inches (48 – 94 cm)
  • Top of child’s head is at least 1 inch (25 mm) below the top of the child restraint seat back.

For Use Forward-Facing Child Must Meet All These Requirements

  • Weight: 22 – 65 lbs (10 – 29,4 kg)
  • Height: 28 – 50 inches (71 – 127 cm)
  • The tops of their ears are below the top of the child restraint headrest.
  • Age: At least one year of age

For Use as a Booster Child Must Meet All These Requirements

  • Weight: 40 – 110 lbs (18 – 49,8 kg)
  • Height: 43.3 – 57 inches (110 – 145 cm)
  • The tops of their ears are below the top of the child restraint headrest.
  • Age: At least four years of age

To me, this sounded like it might be a good fit. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really the wonder seat Evenflo advertises it as. I’ve met many a 3-in-1 seat that failed miserably.  So I got out my trusty measuring tape, my cooperative 6 year old, my extra cooperative newborn doll, and took a seat out of my Pilot.

First, let me talk to you about the fancy SureLATCH connectors. Holy moly, those are awesome! In my vehicle, I really did only have to click-click-press and the seat was tight! I do know that in some vehicles, the Sure LATCH doesn’t work as designed and isn’t as tight as it needs to be for a safe installation.  It’s very easy to change the LATCH strap from rear to forward facing too!

Rear facing LATCH strap

Rear facing LATCH strap. Very clear, right?

You just pull the big ol’ connectors up through the belt path holes, flip the whole assembly up, and stick the connectors back through the forward facing belt path.


Forward facing LATCH strap!

Ta-da! SO cool!

The other super spiffy thing about this seat is that the harness tightens at the hips instead of at the shoulders. This means that every time you tighten the harness on the child, it lowers the shoulder straps to meet the child’s shoulders and pulls the slack out at the hips. Thus, the shoulder straps are always at the appropriate harness height for each child, and YOU don’t have to move it!

I measured the lowest harness position between 7.5″ and 8″ This is better than some seats, but not as good as others. I think it could work for a good sized newborn, but certainly not for a petite baby or one with a shorter torso.


The harness comes out between 7.5″ and 8″ on the lowest setting.

You can see here that my doll would not be able to come home in this seat.


There is about an inch between the doll’s shoulders and the lowest harness position.

If my doll were a little bigger and closer to the size of an 8 lb baby than a 5 lb baby, he would have fit nicely.


If only he were a little bit taller!

There was a HUGE amount of crotch room for a newborn too. You would definitely need to put a rolled up washcloth between the baby and the crotch strap.


There’s a good 1.5″ between the baby and the strap. You would need to put a rolled up washcloth here to keep baby from slouching, which poses a safety hazard.

First, I installed it rear facing in my Pilot with the SureLATCH connectors. Like I said, it was super easy. Click, click, push. You do have to push it down pretty hard though to get it truly tight enough.


Rear facing installation, appropriate for a newborn.

It has handy stickers on the side with directions for which recline position to use for which type of installation too, so you don’t have to remember.


Handy sticker on the side of the seat showing you the recline options for each installation option.

It had about 13.5″ of legroom for a rear facing child in my vehicle.


Decent amount of legroom for a rear facing child.

I had plenty of room to install it rear facing in my Pilot. I don’t think it would be too big for a smaller car either.


Plenty of room for rear facing installation.

It’s super easy to adjust the height of the headrest without uninstalling the seat also, even if installed forward facing.


To adjust the head rest height, you squeeze the red handle on the back and move the head rest up or down. Super easy!

After I was done playing with the seat rear facing, I flipped it around, which was very easy with the spiffy SureLATCH strap. Click, click, push. If I were using this seat and following best practice ie, rear facing to the limit of the seat, I would not be able to install with the lower anchors in this car for a forward facing child. My lower anchor weight limit is 40 lbs. The seat belt installation was not difficult either, but I didn’t take pictures of it.


Click, click, push and it was installed tightly. You can see the booster mode shoulder belt guide in red on the head rest.

I had Mr Orange sit in it. He currently weighs 48 lbs and is 47 inches tall. By weight, he has 17 lbs before he outgrows the harness in this seat.   On the CDC height/weigh charts, he runs about 47th percentile.


6 year old, 47 lb, 47 inch child with the harness properly adjusted.

Unfortunately, he is not likely to make it to the full 65 lb weight limit. There is only about .75-1″ of harness height left above his shoulders.

He has about .75" of harness height left,

He has about .75″ of harness height left.

Since he was close to outgrowing the harness by height, I checked to see how the seat fit as a booster. I was actually pretty pleased on the fit for a 3-in-1 seat. I would like the belt lower on the hips, but over all, it wasn’t too bad. It looks higher in the pics than it was in reality. I don’t think it would actually fit a 57″ child well though. I didn’t have access to a child that big, so I didn’t get to try it.


Decent belt fit for a 3-in-1!

I have to say though, that I don’t think an average child would be able to buckle it by themselves in booster mode.  The buckle is WAY down there!


There is no way he can reach down there to buckle it without locking the shoulder belt.

My overall opinion of the seat is that it is very user-friendly, with a good useable period, but unlikely to be the only seat you’ll need to purchase. I would definitely recommend it for a grandparent/daycare provider/carpooler/etc who will be transporting several children of different sizes.

Oh, I almost forgot! You can take the cover off to wash it without taking the seat out of the car too! The cover also moves out of the way of seeing the belt paths easily. No more fumbling in the dark or scraping off your knuckles threading the belt through the belt path!



Ever wonder what a 3600 lb dog looks like? January 27, 2013

It looks just like your 60 lb dog in a 60 mph collision.

As a Child Passenger Safety Technician, I often encounter parents with dogs who ride in the family vehicle.  Some people, parents or not, opt to use pressure mounted gates to contain their dogs in the car.  My experience with these products has been less than favorable as many will rattle loose and I have actually had the bars fall on my dog while the vehicle was moving!  I typically advise pet owners to purchase and use the Pet Buckle Restraint System by IMMI Outdoor to safely restrain their pet in the car or truck.  I feel this system provides adequate safety for all of the occupants of the vehicle-canine and human.  At the very least, it should prevent the dog from becoming a lethal projectile.  I doubt anyone wants to know what a 60 pound dog feels like when they are hurtling through the air at 60 mph.  It will also safely restrain your dog if emergency response crews need to approach your vehicle after a collision.

According to the manufacturer’s website (http://www.immioutdoors.com/petbuckle/), the PetBuckle restraint has been crash tested at their Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE).  I am reviewing both harness sizes-Small and Universal/Standard as well as the Truck Tether System. I am using my 2003 Honda Pilot for my review as it is our only vehicle with LATCH. Please pardon the mess!  Also note that the checkered Britax Marathon is NOT installed during these pictures.  It is normally installed in the seating position in which I was putting the dogs, so I just moved it over out of my way.  It should not be installed at the recline angle it is sitting in in these photos.

The newer models of the PetBuckle harness have push-button adjusters to make them more secure. Mine are older and have tilt adjusters that tend to loosen, so I have tied knots in the excess webbing to prevent loosening.  Another improvement with the newer harnesses is that IMMI has replaced the rigid plastic chest plate with a softer more rubbery piece.

The PetBuckle Package

When you purchase the Standard PetBuckle restraint, the package typically includes the harness, a LATCHable Kwik-Connect strap, a D-ring and a handy little storage bag.  When you purchase a Small PetBuckle restraint, you only get the harness without the connector strap.  The connector strap is available for purchase separately.

Pet Buckle Restraint System packaging contents

The connector strap can be adjusted in length from 15 to 20 inches.

When the D-ring is attached to the connector strap, you have a handy out-of-car temporary leash too!

For dogs weighing less than 40 lbs, you can connect the LATCH connector strap to your vehicle’s lower LATCH anchors.  For dogs over 40 lbs, use of the D-ring loop is required. You simply buckle the vehicle seatbelt through the loop and attach the connector strap to the d-ring.  If your vehicle has the type of buckle release button that is on the front as opposed to on the top like in my Pilot, I can see it becoming unbuckled if the dog steps on it.  In this situation, I would try pushing the buckle between the seatback and the seat bottom, or try another seating position.

I’ve lost the D-ring that came with one of my harnesses, so I just buckle the belt though the loop of the connector strap.

The Small Breed Harness

The Small Breed harness is designed for dogs under 20 lbs.  I am using my mother’s 6 lb Poodle as my model for demo purposes.

The Small harness fits the 6 lb dog pretty well, though with no opening buckles you have to pull the dog’s legs through the straps as though you were putting a shirt on the dog. I see no reason it wouldn’t also fit a cat that is used to wearing a harness.  Some cats like road trips too!



Graco SnugRide 22 Overview June 25, 2011

Filed under: Seat Reviews,Uncategorized — carseatnerd @ 5:44 am
Tags: , ,

This is Part One of a series of infant seat comparisons.  Part Two will be a Chicco Keyfit 30 Overview.  These  are the most common infant seats I see at seat check events in my geographical area.

Since I lack a newborn baby, and very few have the patience to allow car seat shenanigans to take place for as long as one of my photo shoots  usually do, I used my teaching doll.  I take this doll with me to every car seat check or event to help demonstrate proper harness adjustment and fit etc. He was actually a gift to me from the organization I volunteer with as a thank you for my time. Perhaps at some point, I will show you how I carry him around at events.  He is always rear facing.

Up first: The Graco SnugRide 22 (SR22) .  An identical SnugRide 22, with the rear adjust harness can be purchased for around $80.  For an extra $10, you can get the front adjust harness, which is absolutely worth that Andrew Jackson! More about that in just a moment. I’m personally not a big fan of the SR22 for a few reasons, which are demonstrated in the pictures and explained.  I’m not sure what newborns they designed this seat around, but I certainly haven’t met them!

Here’s a pic of Baby Boy in the SR22. You can kind of see that the baby is swimming in the seat.

“Newborn” in SnugRide 22

A closer view demonstrates that there is a 3.5″ gap between the baby’s crotch and the buckle.  While this can be remedied with a tightly rolled washcloth shaped into a “U” around the crotch buckle strap, I’m not sure why Graco made the crotch depth so large in a seat made for newborns.  I believe that the fewer modifications a parent has to make, the better.   One could  make the argument that my doll lacks a pelvis and a diaper and a real baby wouldn’t fit so poorly.  I assure you that real newborns do not actually fit much better.

Rather deep crotch buckleIn normal daily driving, a real newborn would slide down until their bum met the webbing. This would leave their vulnerable spine completely unsupported by the seat.  It could also cause breathing problems and reflux.

The seat has a 6″ crotch depth for a newborn!

Moving up the seat, you will notice that the lowest harness position is also not making contact with the baby. You may remember that for a rear facing seat, the harness must be AT OR BELOW the baby’s shoulders. Having the harness above the shoulders could allow the baby to ramp up the seatback in a collision before the harness stops him.

Lowest harness position

Again, one could say that my baby is a doll and a real newborn would fit better. Again, I would assure you that most do not.  You can also see that the chest clip is touching the harness buckle (slid all the way down), and is very close to the baby’s neck.  The buckle assembly and chest clip are HUGE!

With only two harness positions and a fairly short shell, not many babies will fit this seat well for very long.  The harness slots measure 8 and 10″ from the seat bottom.  Harness positions are 8" and 10" from the seat bight

The shell height measures 19″.And now the back of the seat. You can see the harness adjusters, which are the metal clips on the harness webbing.   Especially with a newborn, when there isn’t much harness length being used, it can be easier to adjust the harness each time you use the seat.   On the SR22, each side of the harness adjusts individually.

It can be tricky to get each side adjusted the same so the webbing lengths are identical.

It’s just not particularly user friendly.

But it has a nice useful 19″ sunshade!

Here’s the whole seat, with my mismatched base and seat.

So, how does it fit in a vehicle?

Fairly well, but again, not particularly user friendly.  If you happen to have LATCh in the seating position you intend on using, it works great.  If you have a lapbelt, it works well. But if you have to install with a shoulder belt, it’s not user-friendly for the average parent. Which, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you aren’t. You’re likely above average!

First, the level indicator is located only on one side of the seat itself. So when you install the base, you have to put it in, then click the seat onto the base to check the angle.  If the angle is wrong, you have to take the seat out to reinstall the base, and so on and so forth.

A LATCH install in my Pilot is pretty straight forward.

With a lap-shoulder belt, it looks straight forward. Route it through just like the LATCH strap, buckle it and lock the belt, right?

Not so much. With that approach, you are likely to end up with a lopsided seat over time.

To fix that little issue, I usually recommend using the locking clip (LC) that comes with every car seat instead of locking the belt at the retractor.  It must be within 1″ of the buckle and you ONLY use them on lap shoulder belts.  I took some pictures to demonstrate how to put an LC on a seatbelt, but due to formatting issues,it will have to be a post of it’s very own. Another day…

Anyway, with the SnugRide 22 installed with the base, I measured about 16″ from the car seat “bight” to the vehicle seat back, which means there is 16″ of legroom for the baby. I measured 31″ from seatback to seatback with my driver’s seat where I normally have it to drive.  It was just barely touching the back of the driver’s seat, but not bracing against it.

So, in short, I think that for someone who truly feels like they NEED an infant seat, this one is inexpensive and will do the job, though not particularly well for most babies. I did borrow one from my sister in law to use when I brought Little Man home. And I hated it. She used it for her younger son until I procured from a friend a front adjust SR20, which she used through it’s expiration date. I don’t recommend this seat unless a parent has a real need for an infant seat.  I feel that there are convertibles for less money that will last a child longer and actually fit newborns better.


I’m a Rebel. Meet the not-legal (in the US) Britax Two Way Elite. January 12, 2011

Britax makes a seat in Sweden called the Two Way Elite. It rear faces from 20 to 50 lbs, and can be used forward facing from 33 to 50 lbs.   I think it’s a very sweet seat.  Unfortunately for me (and many others), it’s not technically legal to use here in the US. It hasn’t been tested to NHTSA’s criteria.  For about $500, I could import one, but that’s a A LOT of money for one child seat.  A fellow tech in my area happens to have one and was willing to let me borrow it for a week.  I didn’t get measurements, unfortunately. And I forgot to take pictures until I was waiting to meet her to return it to her, so all I have is cell pics. And Mr Orange was quite grumpy.  But here they are!

Here’s the seat uninstalled sitting in the back of my Pilot:

I didn’t get an English language manual, but it has installation pictures printed on the back of the pillow!

I never installed it forward facing, with the assumption that if I were to import this seat, I would only be using it rear facing. With a 50 lb rearfacing limit and a 50 lb forward facing limit, I saw no reason I would use it forward facing.

The cover goes all the way around and zips down the back. Totally awesome!

It has a little flippy foot that you either leave tucked under the seat (like above) or flip out to change the recline angle.  There’s a locking adjuster with a strap on it so you can lock it in any position in the range of tucked and fully flipped.  It also has two rear facing tether straps, which are totally different than the tethers we use on US seats.

When installed, they look like this. (Who made such a mess in my car?!)

I know it’s hard to see, but the female end of the tether strap wraps around the leg of the front seat just like the Britax and Sunshine Kids rearfacing tether D-ring on US seats does.

The US Britax seats have velcro tabs on the harness to keep it out from under your child’s bum while you put them in.  The Swedish seats have spiffy little rubbery tabs with holes!

The harness is a little different also.  First, you’ll notice it doesn’t have a chest clip. At all. The European regulations require that their seats have only one mechanism to unlatch to remove a child from their seat.

It also buckles the opposite direction as our US seats. Our lap portion comes from behind the buckle part and our shoulder straps come from in front.  This seat is not threaded incorrectly-this is how it is from the manufacturer. I didn’t get a good picture of it, but it has a puzzle buckle. That means that you put the two metal buckle tongues together before plugging them into the buckle.

The apparently gigantic harness pads supposedly keep the harness straps in the correct position.

They are connected to each other via a strap that threads through the back of the seat.

So, on with the installations.  Keep in mind these installations are going entirely by the directions of the owner of the seat-who also lacked an English manual.

The “long belt bath” went over the “arm”, under the seat, and back over the “arm”.

From the top:And the “short belt path”. Up from under, over the seat, and down through again.

From the top:

And occupied:

Close up of the growth room with a funny mid-yawn face:

Overall, I really liked this seat. I mean REALLY liked it.  But for $500 for a 50 lb seat, I just couldn’t justify importing when I can get a $300 US seat with a 45 lbs rear facing limit. Even if the Two Way does install easier and takes up less front to back room than the Radian.


The end of an era is near December 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — carseatnerd @ 3:07 am

and I’m bummed.

Mr Orange is 40 lbs, 4 years old and 40″ tall. Technically legal to ride in a booster seat in most states.  But he still rides rearfacing in my Pilot in a Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL.  Little Dude is 30 lbs, 2 years old and 34″ tall.  Technically legal to ride forward facing, but is also still rearfacing in all of our vehicles in Britax Marathons (Classics).

The new issue is that my Marathons are 33 lb rearfacing limit models.  Which means Little Dude is fast approaching the rearfacing weight limit, so he needs to move out of them.  Which means that Mr Orange has to give up his Complete Air and his Radian XTSL and ride in one of the Marathons, the Britax Frontier and the Graco Nautilus forward facing.

Because my boys are in three vehicles regularly, I feel that I truly need three seats for each child. My husband doesn’t always install seats as well as I’d like, and my mom just won’t install them. So….I’m selling a Marathon and I bought a new Britax Roundabout 55.  I’m unnaturally excited to get my new seat. I’m like a little kid waiting for Christmas and the UPS (or this time, the  FedEx) Man is Santa.  The shell has the same inner dimensions as the Marathon, but it has a 40 lb rearfacing limit.  Based on Mr Orange’s growth curve and Little Dude’s growth curve, I’m hoping to make it to around 4 with him in it.

I compiled a list of about eight different seats with a 40 lb rearfacing limit, but narrowed it down to the Roundabout 55 because I was able to get it at a significant discount and it has most of the features I was looking for.  Of all the seats I’ve installed, Britax convertibles have always been the easiest.  It is also one of the two brands with rearfacing tethers, which I feel are important for heavier rearfacers.  The features it didn’t have that I was hoping for were side impact wings, and deeper leg room for leggy kids.  But since Little Dude isn’t leggy, I’m not too upset about that part and rearfacing (especially tethered)  offers so much side impact protection in and of itself that I decided not to worry about that either.

I’ll let you know what I think of it and do a comparison as soon as I get it!

Edited To Add: I got the Roundabout 55. I didn’t like it.  I sent it back. I didn’t think that it would give m e the rear facing height I would need.


I made it. Barely. October 29, 2010

Filed under: Seat Reviews,Uncategorized — carseatnerd @ 4:35 am
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been home from my trip for almost a week now.  I haven’t quite fully recovered. I don’t think I’ll do that again. Flying solo with two small kids is no walk in the park! I don’t need to bore you with a lot of details, but I’ll sum it up for you just for kicks.

Highlights: Snacks smooshed all over the floor where we sat at the terminal, Mr Orange licking the bathroom sink at the airport, Little Dude throwing an all-out fit waiting to board the plane, Little Dude kicking the seat the whole flight both directions, Mr Orange licking the bottom of his SHOE in flight after visiting the bathroom on the plane, Little Dude throwing an all out fit when I took his shoes off for security and again waiting to board the plane, both kids dropping everything in their laps on the floor so my seatbelt was almost never actually on, and Mr Orange had to pee RIGHT NOW before the seatbelt sign was turned off so I got lectured by a flight attendant.

On the way out, my mom helped me. Thank goodness!  I had Mom roll my suitcase to the baggage check counter, while I wore my (30 lb!) backpack and rolled the boys in their car seats.  Then I put their backpacks on the GoGo Kidz handles.

Here’s the setup I was working with:

Marathon with attached GoGo Kidz Travelmate

Radian with backpack straps

Radian folded with rearfacing boot stored in straps

I also obviously had wheels on the Radian which are not in the pics above.  Here is a crappy cell phone pic of me walking through the parking garage with both seats in tow.

Trekking through the airport garage

Now this worked great except going through security.  The seats don’t fit in the scanner with the wheels on and have to be hand-screened which of course takes longer.  But it was worth it to not have to carry them, check them or rent some upon arrival.

I installed both seats forward facing on the plane mostly to make it easier for me to entertain the boys and be interactive with them. FAA regulations state that they could not impede access to the aisle, so the Radian was installed in the window seat and the Marathon went in the center.  This left me in the aisle.  You know, in case I wanted to leave them behind in an emergency situation.

Also worth noting is that the Radian DOES NOT INSTALL WELL on the plane with the wheels on. Because the Radian is such a straight seat, the wheels pushed it out from the seat bight (crack) enough that when we landed, the whole seat leaned forward quite a bit. On the return trip, I opted to take the wheels off and carry it backpack style once we got to our terminal. I got a much more secure installation that way!

The nice features of the Radian are 1) It sits low enough that the child in the seat is able to use the tray table, and 2) It’s narrow enough that it fits down the aisle of the plane so you don’t have to lift it up over the seats. I rolled it on the wheels right to our seats on the way down and walked down the aisle with it on my back on the way home. Fabulous! (pics soon!)

The Marathon installs beautifully with the wheels on, though you do need a seatbelt extender. You can get them from the flight attendant. If you don’t use an extender or flip the female end of the buckle 180 degrees, your seat will be stuck and the pilot will not be happy about having to call a mechanic to come get your seat out by removing screws in the belt attachment.  (pics coming soon!)

I am hoping to make this trek again in March, but with two not-so-minor changes. I will have another adult with me and I am buying a Ride Safer Travel Vest for Mr Orange to wear instead of using a car seat in the rental car. I plan on using the Radian for Little Dude both on the plane and in the rental car and Mr Orange will use just the plane belt during the flight and the RSTV in the rental car.


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