It has been quite some time since I have written about car seats and car seat safety and now that we moved my son into my daughter’s car seat and bought her a new one I figure it is about time. As a refresher or for those of you who are new and have not ready my About Me section, my daughter and I survived a severe, high speed highway crash in 2009. It was one of those events where you are doing everything right and someone’s poor choices end up changing your life (we were driving on the opposite side of the highway when the car came flying into us). It is a miracle that we are both alive and I feel extremely passionate about making wise product choices for my family, especially cars and car seats.
Fortunately, I was already a stickler about car seat installation prior to the accident and I took months researching then selecting our car and my daughter’s convertible car seat. I believe that in addition to God’s grace the car and car seat were huge factors in our lives being spared. My daughter was in a Britax Boulevard at that time and we purchased the Advocate, which had just been released, before I was discharged from the hospital to take her home. As a side note, for those of you who may not know car seats should never be used after an accident. Obviously in our case since the accident was so severe, but any significant impact can compromise the car seat’s safety since it is designed to take the brunt of things for your little ones.
Now back to our newest car seat. My daughter has been riding in her Britax Boulevard 70 for the past year (read my Britax Boulevard 70 review), but it was time to move brother up into the convertible seat since he had just about grown out of his Chaperone. The decision I needed to make was whether I would get another convertible car seat or a booster seat. The convertible car seat didn’t seem logical since she is huge for her age and if I was going to buy another one I wanted a weight range beyond the 70llbs. of the Boulevard. Yet I still wanted all of the safety features my Boulevard had including the five-point harness and true side impact protection to better protect their head and necks, keep them from bashing into each other’s heads if they were to be sitting next to each other and from the side of the car in the event of a crash.
As loyal as I am to the Britax brand I did look at a few other booster options, but no other models I came across offered a five point harness and side impact protection in addition to a permanent back. I finally decided to go with the Britax Frontier 85, which offers everything that the Boulevard convertible car seat has, but it has a higher weight range, side cup holders and the more booster like shape makes it easier for my daughter to climb in by herself. It also has the option to remove the five-point harness and use a shoulder belt when she is older and although I won’t be worrying about that for a very long time I like this feature.
The seat is nice and roomy and she loves both the little arm rests and the cup holders. They usually house snacks, toys and other nicknacks, but I love that she has her own place to put her drink when needed since the car’s built in cup holders are out of her reach. We chose the cowmooflauge print to match the Boulevard 70 and to avoid any arguments about colors, pattern and to ease the transition for both of them. New seat, familiar print.
Overall I am very happy with my choice and will consider buying one for my son in a couple of years if we need to do another car seat shuffle as our family grows. The LATCH allows for a secure, hassle free installation and it includes a place to clip onto when they are not in use, which is perfect when you are transporting it or checking it in at the airport. There are settings for younger riders (the Frontier can be used as young as the age of two, but weight and height minimums apply) and as I mentioned earlier it can be used with the shoulder seat belt for older children using a guide to properly position the seat belt across their body.
The bottom line is this is a safer booster option for toddlers, preschoolers and children and it allows children to remain in the safest possible seat for the longest length of time. We have been using this seat for a couple of months now and I cannot think of any short comings thus far and don’t anticipate any in the near future. Remember that car seat regulations are minimums, not milestones and needing or buying a booster seat does not mean you need to compromise your children’s comfort or safety.
1. Car Seat Regulations are Minimums, Not Milestones. Do not turn your child forward facing just because they have reached the age of one and 20 lbs. or put your three year old in a backless booster. Always aim to keep your child in the safest seat or position as long as possible and move to the next step when they have exceeded the height or weight limits for the particular product you are using.
2. Buy the best car seat you can afford. Whether it is $100 or $300 this is the one piece of baby gear, next to their crib, in which you should invest the most money and time researching. A convertible car seat, for example, may fit your child for 6+ years, so if you purchase a $250 car seat and use it for 6 years that comes to about $3.50 per month. Now that is what I call affordable insurance.
Although the infant car seats are lovely to tote around, click in the stroller and lug around in a shopping cart, convertible car seats can save you money in the long run, especially if you can only afford to buy one seat. Many go from birth to 70 lbs. and can be the only car seat your child will need until they graduate to a booster seat.
3. Read the installation manual fully and follow all the instructions and recommendations. I don’t read manuals for a lot of things, heck, probably most things, but car seats are a must. Even if you choose what you believe is the safest seat in the market, if it is not installed correctly it is not going to do your child any good. Accidents are out of your hands, but installation is in your control and an important responsibility.
4. Rear facing is now recommended until the age of two, or until they outgrow the height or weight limits your particular car seat outlines for rear facing infants and toddlers. If you have big babies like I do, just do your best to keep them rear facing as long as possible and be sure to make note of the rear facing height and weight limits of a car seat before you purchase. The more growing room the better.
5. Stop using a car seat after its expiration. Resist the urge to use it for “just one more” child or year past the expiration. It is your child’s life you are gambling and I think we would all agree that a couple hundred dollars is a small price to pay in the big picture if you end up needing to buy a car seat to get them through a little longer. Make sure to check the expiration range when shopping for car seats as many expire after four or five years and others do not expire for over seven years.
This car seat was personally purchased by me and all thoughts and opinions are my own.My Top 5 Car Seat Reminders Plus a Look at Our New Car Seat I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}