What do you get when you combine a catalog with a magazine? Our magalog, Surprises, is your guide to the best of our baby gear selection and the top toys of the season. But there’s more: each issue of Surprises is loaded with informative articles about babies and kids, and common-sense advice that you can use.
Just in case you missed them, we’re reposting our magalog backlog here on the Spilling the Beans blog. And we’ve got a great new issue on the way, launching in November 2012. Go here and sign up to make sure you get yours!
All Roads Lead to Safety: Car Seats and Installation
By Sheri Gurock with Dana Morgenstein
Every year, manufacturers up the ante by designing safer and simpler car seats, with better protection and easier installation. But in order for a car seat to do its job, it needs to be used properly. Every car (and every child) is a little different, so it’s easy to make mistakes. An estimated 3 out of every 4 car seats are being used improperly in the United States.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 9,000 lives were saved by child restraints from 1975 to 2008, and countless injuries were prevented. But a car seat only protects your child properly if it’s installed properly – so a little education goes a long way. Here are a few things you can do to stack the odds in favor of getting it right.
Choose the right seat
A safe car seat is one that fits your child and fits your car (and will be used properly every time). Consult with a store associate to be sure you are choosing a seat that will work for your child. Read the instruction manual and labels There’s a wealth of important information in there. Take 20 minutes and read it all. You’ll learn a lot.
Don’t make assumptions
Many parents assume that using LATCH is safer than a seatbelt (it’s not — they’re equally safe when used properly), or that using both a seat belt and LATCH must be better than using just one (it’s not). Car seats are meant to be used within very specific parameters, and if you go rogue, you’ll be compromising the safety of the seat.
Make it tight
A properly installed car seat should be snug and should not move more than an inch in any direction at the belt path. Often it takes some hard work to get it really tight. If you’re sweating, you’re probably doing it right.
Get the right fit
For rear-facing children, the harness straps should be at or slightly below the shoulders.
For forward-facing children, the straps should be at or slightly above the shoulders. The harness should be tight enough that you can’t pinch any slack vertically along the strap.
Finally, the chest clip should be level with your child’s armpits.
Go for a check-up
Whether you’re feeling confident or confused, it’s a good idea to get your car seat checked by a professional. At Magic Beans, we have a team of certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs) who can help you make sure that the seat you choose will fit your car and your child, and that it’s installed securely and properly. Our Car Seat Installation course is a private session lasting between 30 and 60 minutes. You’ll learn the basics of installation, so that next time you can do it yourself.
Want to learn more, and set up your appointment? Go to www.mbeans.com/install.
Don’t live in the Boston area? You can find a CPST in your area by visiting safekids.org.
Jonathan’s Picks: Our Car Seat Safety Expert Weighs In
Now that you know about our car seat installation service, you’re well on your way to becoming a car seat expert. But the question remains: which seat to select?
Here at Magic Beans, we know a thing or two about safety and quality in baby gear, and we provide a wide variety of top notch child safety seats to accommodate all ages and sizes, in every vehicle from a Mini Cooper to a monster truck. We asked Jonathan Otero, our staff Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor, to recommend a few of his favorites.
FAVORITE INFANT CAR SEAT (FROM BIRTH TO SIX MONTHS)
B-SAFE INFANT CAR SEAT, BRITAX · $179.99
This stylish, lightweight little seat is a tiny dynamo at only 9.8 pounds, with excellent side impact protection (SIP) and a relatively high rear-facing weight limit of 30 pounds. “The belt lockoffs make it easy to install and reinstall this car seat base, so it’s good if you’re moving it around a lot,” says Jonathan. And of course, the seat itself is designed to act as part of a travel system, which enables you to transfer the baby from car to stroller and back again without undoing any straps or waking a sleeping baby. Pop the B-Safe Infant Car Seat into the matching Britax B-Ready or B-Agile stroller, and you’re ready to roll.
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 5/70 is upholstered in lovely, breathable microfiber that’s easy to clean, and offers incredibly easy harness adjustment: you don’t need to uninstall the seat to change harness height. Plus, belt lockoffs make it easy to move around. It’s both beautiful and convenient.
On the other hand, the Diono Radian RXT is a super-practical 3-in-1 seat that you can use from infancy right up through your child’s school years. It converts from a car seat to a booster seat, accommodating kids up to 120 pounds. A powerful steel frame and SIP offer optimal safety, and it’s a great choice for a large family. It fits big kids, up to a height limit of 4’9”, and you can fit 3 Radian car seats across a single back seat.
FAVORITE BOOSTER SEAT (FROM 4 YEARS TO POST-BOOSTER AGE, DEPENDING ON YOUR STATE LAWS)
OLLI, CLEK, FROM $94.99
Sure, the Clek Olli Booster has fantastic engineering and safety, but what makes this an all-around favorite for parents, kids, and experts? “Because of the low profile, it doesn’t look like a car seat, so kids are more likely to sit in it,” says Jonathan. In addition to cool colors and fun patterns (including offerings from designer Paul Frank), this seat has a comfy memory-foam seat that fends off the dreaded “numb bum,” and it has plenty of room for your child’s hips.
What about car seat accessories? To take the strain out of carrying your infant car seat carrier, Jonathan suggests the Itzy Ritzy Wrap & Roll, a carrier cushion that unrolls into a comfy mat for babies. The UPPAbaby Sunshade keeps babies cool, comfy, and sunburn-free, and is designed to avoid becoming a projectile in a crash. And Lula Clips will “give you a hand” by holding car seat straps out of the way while you put the baby in her seat, so you don’t have to dig under your child or untwist unruly straps.