New LATCH Car Seat Installation Guidelines Explained

latch_logoConfused by the new LATCH guidelines? You’re not alone! Leading up to the effective date of the new guidelines (February 27, 2014) some online and broadcast media stations have managed to confuse parents even more. And when it comes to car seats and the safety of your child, this is not a subject that should fall in the gray area.

Being a Child Passenger Safety Technician myself, I have found that the explanation by Sarah Tilton, BRITAX child passenger safety advocate, is very relatable for parents.

 

BRITAX believes that a safe car seat is one that:

  • Fits your child (based on weight, standing height and seated shoulder height)
  • Fits your vehicle
  • Installs and can be used easily every time

To help ensure that caregivers install car seats securely, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires most passenger vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002, to have special anchors for attaching the child seat using Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) directly to the vehicle rather than securing the child seat with the vehicle’s seat belt.

However, when parents secure their car seats using LATCH, they often don’t realize that the vehicle lower anchors have weight limits. In fact, according to a recent Safe Kids Worldwide study, 46 percent of forward-facing car seats with harnesses are incorrectly secured by way of lower anchor installation.

Most lower anchors are not designed to secure more than a combined weight of 65 pounds for both child and car seat. If the combined weight of a child and his or her car seat is more than 65 pounds, the car seat should be secured using the vehicle’s seat belt.

To help clarify these guidelines, NHTSA will require all car seats to include a statement on the warning label to indicate maximum child weight for the use of vehicle lower anchors during installation. The new labeling will provide a simple reference for caregivers who use a car seat in a vehicle that does not permit the use of lower anchors when the combined weight of the child and the car seat exceeds 65 pounds. NHTSA is expected to require these new labels starting February 27, 2014.

To further clarify any confusion you might have, Britax will be holding an open webinar on Thursday, February 6th from 1:00pm – 2:00pm EST. I highly recommend you reserve your spot now as space is limited. Signing up and reserving your spot for the webinar takes one minute and you can reserve your spot HERE.

BRITAX RECOMMENDATIONS

BRITAX recommends that parents use the following best practices when installing a car seat using the LATCH system:

  • Do not use lower anchors if the combined weight of child and car seat exceed 65 pounds.
  • Use the vehicle seat belt, not lower anchors (in most vehicles), when the combined weight of the child and car seat exceed 65 pounds.
  • If you cannot locate a weight limit for using LATCH in the car seat user guide or vehicle owner’s manual, you should install your seat with the vehicle seat belt and top tether.
  • Install the car seat with the top tether at all times, regardless of installation method (lower anchors or seat belt for forward-facing harnessed seats). Check the vehicle owner’s manual and/or car seat user guide to determine if there are weight limits for top tether usage.
  • Review the car seat user guide and vehicle owner’s manual, contact the car seat or vehicle manufacturer as necessary, or consult with a local Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) using a LATCH Manual, to determine the best method for installing the car seat. You can search for your local CPST on www.safekids.org.

ALTERNATIVE TO LATCH IN SELECT HARNESS-2-BOOSTER SEATS

One alternative to ensuring a safe and secure installation each and every time, without worrying about child and car seat weight or relying on LATCH, is the BRITAX ClickTight Installation System, found in the BRITAX FRONTIER™90 and PINNACLE™90 harness-2-booster seats. The system allows parents to install the forward-facing seat in harness mode, starting from at least 2 years of age and 25 pounds and up to 90 pounds. The technology behind the ClickTight Installation System allows parents to securely install their child’s car seat with just one ‘click.’”

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We own and use both the Britax Pinnacle 90 and the Britax Frontier 90 for my four-year old and six-year-old. I had a difficult time installing our previous seat in the third row of my Toyota Sienna. Once I got the Frontier 90, installation was easy and perfect/safe for my child. The Britax ClickTight seats are at the top of my list as a recommendation for children over 25 pounds and 2 years old.

4moms rockaRoo – Mommy Tested, Daddy Approved {giveaway}

Yes, you read that right.

But it could have easily read… Mommy Tested, The Whole Family Approved.

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As a 4moms family, I’ve done my fair share of putting 4moms gear to the tests – the Origami, the Breeze, the mamaRoo and now… The ever so amazing rockaRoo! All have passed my tests with flying colors, but with the amount of baby gear and baby related stuff we’ve had strewn throughout the house over the past 11 years, my husband has found a way to tune it all out.

Literally.

(Except for the times he makes comments about how many strollers are crowding his workspace in the garage).

 

That was until 4moms came into the picture.

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A stroller that unfolds and folds itself?
He might have wet himself with excitement when he first saw it in action.

A playard that doesn’t require curse words to assemble?
He still got a beer for helping, but was in a much better mood after setting up Quinn’s play space.

A motion seat that doesn’t take up the entire room, doesn’t plow through batteries, has built-in sounds and plays music from his iPhone?
Anything that plays music from his iPhone (and doesn’t take up the entire room) is a plus in his book.

And now… A rocking seat that takes literally seconds to assemble, is super simple to operate, it’s not an eyesore, is as quiet as a mouse and the baby adores it?
Gold.

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Because it’s well known that we love our 4moms gear, the questions I’ve been asked the most lately are… How does the rockaRoo compare to the mamaRoo? Which one do you like better? and Which one should I get for my baby?

My answers?

I love both for different reasons. But here’s the breakdown…

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  1. The rockaRoo retails for $159-$179 making it a more affordable option compared to it’s sister the mamaRoo, which retails for $219-$249.
  2. The rockaRoo (11.5 pounds) is a smidge lighter than the mamaRoo (14 pounds), which makes it a smidge easier to move about the house. Although, the mamaRoo moves from room to room very easily as well – trust me!
  3. Both come with an AC adapter and mp3 cord, which eliminates the need for batteries and allows parents to play their choice of sounds and music – the mamaRoo has built-in nature sounds, the rockaRoo does not. What the rockaRoo does have is a pocket at the back of the seat, which is a perfect place to safely store your mp3 cord when not in use – and perfect for both cords while transporting it to grandmas.
  4. The rockaRoo has a little bit more of a roomier seat than the mamaRoo. Both the mamaRoo and the rockaRoo accommodate babies from birth to 25 pounds. The mamaRoo seat adjusts positions – reclined to upright (the picture above is with the mamaRoo fully reclined) – the rockaRoo does not adjust because it rocks front to back and has a perfect recline angle for the motion it provides.
  5. The rockaRoo has one movement – front to back rocking – and five speeds. The mamaRoo has five unique motions that mimic a parent’s natural movement along with five speeds. Both are designed with baby in mind to sooth and comfort baby in the most natural way – second best to mom or dad’s arms for those times when mom and dad’s arms need a break. And it happens.
  6. Both the rockaRoo and the mamaRoo have a removable toy bar. Both swing out of the way and detach easily. The toy bar on the mamaRoo is a little more substantial and comes with three reversible and removable stuffed toy balls. The rockaRoo’s toy bar holds 3 stuffed toy balls (that look more like stuffed triangles) and they slide into the toy bar frame instead of pop out. Baby Quinn (at six months old) can pop the mamaRoo balls out of the toy bar when he wants to, and is just now figuring out how to get the rockaRoo balls out. I really like the design of the rockaRoo balls – he can hold and manipulate them (in his hands and into his mouth) very easily.
  7. The mamaRoo comes in six choices of seat fabrics – the rockaRoo comes in three choices of seat fabrics. All are easy to remove and machine washable. You can also purchase (sold separately) an extra seat fabric for those times when your baby has a blow out and the seat fabric is in the wash, but you need your beloved rockaRoo. This has happened to us more times than I can count and having the extra seat fabric is a lifesaver. The Newborn Insert (also sold separately) was very nice to have the first few months as well.

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Quinn is a huge fan of the rockaRoo! He puts it to good use throughout the day and at playtime to practice his hand-eye coordination with the toy bar. Even at six months old he falls fast asleep in it! And trust me, this is a big deal as sleep is not a regular thing in this house right now.

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After owning and using the mamaRoo since Quinn’s birth, the rockaRoo had some “living up to” to do when it first arrived. But I’m pleased to say that the rockaRoo holds it’s own. With four boys in the house, I often need a safe spot for Quinn to play, rest and relax for those times when he simply cannot be in my arms – homework, dinner, potty breaks, breaking up fights, kissing boo boo’s, picking up LEGOs… You know, the usual. The rockaRoo is not only all that, it’s also extremely soothing and a perfect quiet space for Quinn when things get a little overstimulating (which happens often in our house – as you can imagine).

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What sets the rockaRoo apart from the traditional swing is the fact that it rocks like a rocking horse. 4moms took the traditional swing and flipped it on its head. That design detail, along with the five different speeds, maximizes the sensation of motion for your baby at baby’s head, which is where it matters the most.

So sit back and enjoy, little ones! And enjoy you will…

 4moms-rockaroo-giveaway

{GIVEAWAY}

One lucky little one will get to enjoy a brand new rockaRoo thanks to 4moms. Simply enter below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check the 4moms Facebook page for a daily chance to win a rockaRoo. It’s so good, everyone deserves a chance to own one.

 

Disclosure: 4moms provided us a rockaRoo for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

How We Set The Table for a Kid-Friendly Holiday

This year I’ve somehow proven to myself that functionality, style and holiday cheer is obtainable with four children in the house. Who knew? I’ve also determined that ones portrayal of traditional cheer comes in many forms and colors, but one thing remains the same no matter where you are or what you style may be – and that is when the entire family gathers around the holiday table.

Instead of the same ol’ red and green or blue and silver, this year I used our personal style to create the perfect holiday style for us – and one that will carry us through the New Year. Which equates to one less thing for me to worry about and clean up.
In going with our new craftsman-inspired style and décor, I’ve pulled together items that not only fit my personal taste, but ones that are functional, too! (As most of the items can be re-used throughout the year). You’ll also notice that my tall glass hurricanes – that pair so well with festive, glitter clad fillers – mercury glass trees and real candles have disappeared from the mix and have since been replaced with kid-friendly holiday décor that hopefully doesn’t need to be replaced with each passing year.

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1. Glass tablescapes are a thing of the past with four boys running wild in the house. Wooden or woven serving trays and baskets, like the Pottery Barn Jacquelyne Wood Handled Basket, create a safer tablescape amongst children and look amazing with shatter-proof ornaments, pinecones or colorful/decorative felt balls.

2. It is possible to create a child-friendly tree without all the characters ornaments and hazardous glass. The Tweet Life Ornaments from The Land of Nod are innocent and safe for kids (should they get their little paws on them). These also look amazing hanging on twigs and branches used for a tablescape.

3. Wood and metallics are two of my favorite things – and not just during the holidays. With the Golden Age Stockings, also from The Land of Nod, I can accent my craftsman style with some modern flair. For those that don’t have a chimney to hang stockings, I love the idea of a large bow around the back of the dining room chair with the stockings hung off the side of the chair. (This also works to keep kiddos away from the fireplace).

4. Baby’s First Holiday Dinner is kind of a big deal. I’ve been searching and searching for something unique and stylish and finally landed on the Bunny knit baby sweater and hat from Red Envelope. Baby Quinn will look adorable at dinner, don’t you agree?

5. Whether strewn across the windows and shutters behind the table or draped as part of the tablescape, this Starry Garland from The Land of Nod is a perfect addition for the holidays – and beyond.

6. No table is truly complete without the main attraction. Yes, the table itself is a key player and the tablescape is a good supporting role, but the area rug really makes or breaks the entire room. For our new décor, I’ve chosen the Mohawk Home American Craftsmen Style rug in Serenity Oak Creek Bison. The mixture of browns, creams and tans with the pop of blues and gorgeous garden, floral, ikat and medallion design is just my style.

7. I have four boys. I also have Flameless Wax Candles from Pottery Barn at the center of our table. Enough said.

8. In going with my new Craftsman-style décor, I love the look of crisp white with wood – wood anything. Like these Wood Charger Plates from Red Envelope. Simply dress them up according to the holiday (different napkin rings are a perfect and simple way to change the look or feel to match your style or holiday décor) and enjoy them year round.

9. There are lots of family dinners to be had, which means my wee ones spend a lot of time gathering around the family table. We eat, play games, talk… And just enjoy each others company as it’s few and far between the rest of the year. All my kids sit in or on a Stokke Tripp Trapp. The ergonomic design allows for natural movement of their antsy bums and the footrest provides just the right amount of support to keep them comfortable while enjoying family time. The new Aqua Blue Tripp Trapp is quite a beautiful sight, too.

10. I stocked up on these Target shatter-proof ornaments this year. With a baby in the house, it was either that or mommy’s anxiety would rise to dangerous levels. These babies live in my tablescape baskets and on the tree.

11. Give me a pretty green wreath and I’m happy. I found this Boxwood Square Wreath at West Elm and said, yes please. Can you picture this hanging with a wide piece of burlap? I can. On the wall, next to the table.

 

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How are you going to set your table for the holidays this year? If you would like a fresh start or just want to spruce up your family gathering area, I suggest you check out the Mohawk Home Pin To Win – Set The Table with American Rug Craftsmen on Pinterest. Enter to win an American Rug Craftsmen rug of your choice with up to a $1,000 retail value.

Visit Mohawk Home on Facebook or Pinterest to see official rules and details.

 

Disclosure: Mohawk Home sponsored this post and sent us a new rug to complete our ‘set the table’ look for the holidays. All opinions are my own.

One And Done: The Babybjorn Baby Carrier One

Parents love options – babies love options and one thing I’ve found with each of my babies… they are all different. Very different. But not only are their personalities different, their needs and preferences change almost as quickly as mine.

When it comes to baby carriers, it used to be that I preferred one carrier over another for various outings and reasons. Longer day trips meant I needed a carrier with a little more support for my back, a comfortable sleeping position for baby and/or adjustability. Quick errands called for something easy to use and so on.

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With the Babybjorn Baby Carrier One, it’s one and done. There’s a position for every stage, preference and outing type.

FRONT AND BACK CARRY POSITIONS
The Babybjorn Baby Carrier One accommodates children from eight pounds to 33 pounds and has four different positions to grow with your child.

babybjorn carrier one carry positions

NORMAL LEG POSITION AND WIDE LEG POSITION
The best thing about the Carrier One is the ability to seamlessly change carry positions without the need of additional pieces or accessories. With the exception of the newborn height position, the zippers at the bottom of the seat control the leg position for your child and daily preferences. The normal leg position is used for the newborn carry, inward facing carry and outward facing carry and the wide leg position is used for the inward facing carry and back carry.

  • Newborn carry: Approximately 0-4 months, minimum 8 pounds/21 inches
  • Facing inward carry with normal leg position: Approximately 4-15 months, maximum 26 pounds
  • Facing inward carry with wide leg position: Approximately 4-36 months, maximum 33 pounds
  • Facing outward with normal leg position: Minimum 5 months – approximately 15 months, maximum 26 pounds
  • Back carry with wide leg position: 12 months – approximately 36 months, maximum 33 pounds/39 inches

 

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ERGONOMIC CARRY AND COMFORT
The first thing I noticed when taking the Baby Carrier One out of the box is the overall size of the carrier. The body appears to be larger and padded in just the right spots for added comfort to both baby and parents. Don’t read this the wrong way, I liked that the body of the carrier appeared to be larger. And once I tried it on, my thoughts were validated as the carrier molded to my baby’s body seamlessly and in every position we tried.

Comfort features:

  • Ergonomic design
  • Waist belt with adjustments on both sides
  • Shaped, padded shoulder straps to relieve pressure
  • Outward seams – everything that touches baby is soft and free from harmful chemicals
  • Adjustable width for baby’s leg positions
  • Sturdy head support – can be folded down when baby is facing outwards

The Babybjorn Baby Carrier One was developed reflecting the advice of the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.

NEW BUCKLES
The new buckle system is awesome. The safety buckles at the side and the head support buckles at the top slide and click into position, which makes getting baby in and out extremely easy.
The waist belt buckle took wearing the carrier twice to get the hang of it, but that’s only because I’m so used to buckles that click together. This one fits together like a puzzle piece and audibly clicks into place once locked and secure. After a few times, it was second nature and very easy to do.

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WHAT WE LIKE
Like I mentioned above, I really like the structure of the seat, the new buckle system and the ability to adapt the carrier easily to a growing child or to ever changing needs within the family lifestyle.
I would love to see Babybjorn offer sucking pads for this carrier. My little guy is the perfect height to get those straps in his mouth – and they get wet/dirty very quickly because of this. They do have a bib accessory for the forward facing position.

I can’t wait to use this carrier in the back carry position once my baby gets older. I love that the carrier is secured on the parent before placing baby in and can even be rotated into the back carry position while baby is secured in the seat. And with four kids in tow, I love the ability to change the scenery and comfort (sleep position) for the baby as quickly as possible.

The Babybjorn Baby Carrier One is available in black cotton mix and black mesh and retails for $199 and can purchased online or in stores.

 

Disclosure: I’m working with Babybjorn to provide a review of the carrier. All opinions are my own.

What I’m Using: Orbit Baby Infant Car Seat Travel Collection

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The convenience and style of the Orbit Baby system had me sold from the start – and from the moment I started thinking about car seat placements. With an 11 year old out of a booster seat, and a five year old and three year old in 5-point harnesses, I had to place car seats in my minivan like puzzle pieces. The thought of where my kids would sit had my head spinning, which is something I never thought would happen considering I have a minivan. But when it comes to carpool, school pick up, drop offs and the fact that I can’t get the infant car seat out of the car (if it’s behind the driver’s seat) while the car is parked in the garage, it wasn’t exactly cut and dry.

When I first reviewed the Orbit Baby infant car seat, I noticed the seat could rotate on the base in order to allow older kids to pass and enter/exit the car. This was huge for me considering the only acceptable spot for the infant seat in my situation and car is the passenger side, which is the side all my kids enter and exit the vehicle. With the Orbit Baby infant car seat, that’s still possible and doesn’t cause unwanted headaches. I simply rotate Quinn, while he’s in his seat, and the kids can get in and out. I’ve even mastered this from the driver’s seat, which helps speed along the after school pick up process with the older two.

I also praise the 360-docking feature on a daily basis. From docking it on the car seat base, docking and rotating it on the stroller while out and about… To rotating the seat to easily and quickly get Quinn out and to allow for diaper changes on the floor space in front of the seat. I still geek out about how easy life can be because of this simple design feature. And I think my husband might be getting sick of me still talking about it – almost four months later.

Aside of the rotate feature, the seats organic materials are another key factor for me. We spend a lot of time in the car and I wanted Quinn to be surrounded by the least amount of toxins and chemicals as possible.

2 weeks old in the Orbit Infant Car Seat

2 weeks old in the Orbit Infant Car Seat

While using the infant car seat the past 3+ months, I’ve found a few key things I thought were worth mentioning. Quinn was not fond of the strap pads until recently. After figuring out why he was unhappy in his seat, I removed the strap pads, but kept the head support in place for a few months. Now that he’s closer to four months old, and has better neck control (and a bigger head), I removed the head support and put the strap pads back on. One their own, the strap pads provide a good amount of head support when he falls asleep in the car now. The new Baby Gear Spa Kit with spot treatment spray? A must! Especially if you’re constantly on the go like we are and don’t have time to take off and wash the cover constantly.

3.5 months old in the Orbit Infant Car Seat/G2 stroller (not in motion)

3.5 months old in the Orbit Infant Car Seat/G2 stroller (not in motion)

When I’m getting my hair done or out shopping, I strap a soft hanging toy to the side of the soft carry handle and clip another soft toy to the side with toy rings. These little additions keep him occupied and happy, but I always remove them while in motion in the car. Lucky for me, he’s perfectly content looking out the window.

On a walk at the La Costa Resort - Napping thanks to the Paparazzi Shield

On a walk at the La Costa Resort – Napping, thanks to the Paparazzi Shield

The Paparazzi Shield is also right up there as a favorite feature. It keeps unwanted hands off my baby, keeps the sun out of his big blue eyes and he now knows that once I put it in place and start rocking the stroller, it’s nap time! Plus, it keeps him asleep because there’s no wind in his face or over stimulation around him.

Orbit Baby Travel Collection with Panniers and Sidekick

Orbit Baby Travel Collection with Panniers and Sidekick

The G2 stroller frame with the Orbit Baby infant car seat makes a great travel collection. I’ve modified our system to accommodate our lifestyle and it works and adapts seamlessly to our ever-changing daily needs. While the G2 Stroller comes with the under basket Pod, I knew I needed more space. So I ordered the cargo basket accessory. I also got the Stroller Panniers, which have proven to be extremely useful for outing with more than one kid, grocery shopping or for delivering flowers to grandma. The Sidekick Stroller Board is the biggest head turner ever. I think passerby’s get whiplash when they see it – not even joking. I get stopped daily and get more comments on the Sidekick than the baby!

In addition to the Orbit Baby accessories, I’ve also added the Skip Hop Grab and Go Stroller Organizer for added storage – mostly for my phone, wallet, burp cloth and water bottle on the days I run a quick errand or simply don’t feel like lugging the diaper bag with me. And I keep a set of the Petunia Picklebottom Valet Stroller Clips on the handles for my Timi and Leslie Marie Antoinette diaper bag.

Bottom line, the Orbit Baby Travel Collection helps keep my daily systems in place – and running smoothly.

 

Disclosure: Some of the items mentioned above were given to us to review or as a gift. Some were purchased by myself. I’m only talking about these items because that’s what I have found useful for our daily needs and hope that these ideas and suggestions can help parents when trying to decide what is right for their individual lifestyle.


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