IIHS Booster Seat Best Bets [And Buy-It-Now Prices]

IIHS Booster Seat Best Bets [And Buy-It-Now Prices]When your child outgrows other forms of forward-facing restraints, it’s time for a booster. But which ones are best?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just released its latest report with belt fit data on more than 100 booster seats currently on the market.

Of the seats tested, 58 were listed as “Best Bets“(meaning that they fit most kids ages 4 to 8 well in most cars) and five seats were listed as Good Bets (acceptable fit in most cars). Around 40 seats fall into a middle “Check Fit” category (they work in some cars, but not others). Two seats were not recommended–the Safety 1st All-in-One and the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite.

10 Popular “Best Bets” include seats at a wide range of price points starting at around $18:

I’m also including buy-it-now prices (the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularlyon these seats, and I’ve linked to Amazon below, so you can check out the seats there.

Surprisingly, the new Britax Pinnacle 90, Pioneer 70 and Frontier 90 boosters are designated as Check Fit boosters–a significant slip in their ratings. The geometry of the Frontier 90′s armrest “doesn’t consistently provide the same lap belt fit as the earlier model,” says senior IIHS technician Philip Floyd.

You can see more results at the IIHS website.

Other resources:

See more essential car seat posts at BabyCheapskate.com.

Want Car Seat Safety Info? Check Out these 13 Sites and Facebook Pages

Ever feel like you’re overwhelmed when it comes to car seat safety? You’re not alone!

There are lots of great sites, pages and groups out there to help parents understand the what, how and why of car seat safety. We’ve collected over a dozen of them here.

NOTE: None of these sites, pages or groups is a substitute for having your car seat checked IRL by a CPST. Find an inspection station here.

Websites

Facebook Pages

  • The Car Seat Lady: Popular page run by ”a pediatrician, nurse & new mom with 40+ years & 20,000+ car seat installations combined experience”
  • Car Seats for the Littles: Vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death for children. This page’s mission is to change that.
  • Dear MTV: Care About Car Seats Inspired by improper car seat use on MTV’s Teen Mom & 16 and Pregnant

Facebook Groups

  • Car Seats for the Littles Group: Large group. Created to “provide a central location for moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caretakers, and anyone else who takes care of or just loves children to stay informed about car seat safety.”
  • Car Seat Safety: Open group. “A community for people who have questions about their car seats or need help to find an appropriate seat for their child(ren). CPSTs, CRST and knowledgeable, passionate carseat lovers are here to help”
  • South Florida Car Seat Moms: A closed group run by our very own FB admin and CPST, Nava.
  • Car Seat Safe Kids:  Newish Facebook page spreading the word about car seat safety.

Thanks to Nava for helping gather these great resources.

Know of any other great sites, pages or groups focused on car seat safety? Let us know in the comments!

Best New Baby Gear for 2013 [Part 1: Car Seats]

Welcome to Part 1 of BC’s Best New Baby Gear posts. It’s about car seats. Each year dozens (if not hundreds) of new baby items hit the market. Some are really promising and some are real head-scratchers (like these beauties from last year’s ABC Kids Expo).

Learning about all the new products can be overwhelming, so here’s help.

Below you’ll find a roundup of some of the most interesting new car seats hitting the market. Some came out in late 2012 and some will do so later this year. In addition to the MSRP and availablility date, I’m also including useful snippets from reviews and press releases along with links so that you can read more, see the specs, etc.

And remember, if these prices seem especially high to you, remember than these are MSRP or list prices. Expect to be able to save 15% or more on these items within the first year they’re on the market depending on brand. Here’s an example: the Britax Marathon 70 G3′s MSRP is $289.99 (similar to that of the Chicco NextFit), but it’s pretty easy to get it for $212 or so.

Another thing to remember is newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. There are lots of less expensive but still great seats out there–including highly rated models from Diono, Recaro and Britax–that you can find for 20% to 30% off fairly regularly. And if your budget dictates that you spend under $150, be sure to check out my new roundup of budget convertible seats.

✔ = Budget Buy

Car Seats | Convertible

  • Chicco NextFit 65 convertible car seat. $279 – $299. “For starters, there’s a really cool new LATCH system with integrated pulleys that significantly reduces the effort required to tighten the install. And—get this—the seat has a whopping nine recline positions, meaning it’ll fit into the contour of whatever seat you’re dealing with.” StrollerTraffic.com. JPMA Innovation Award winner. Available this spring.
  • ✔ Graco  Size4Me 70 / MySize 70 convertible car seat. $179.99. “Simply Safe Adjust harness system that allows you to raise and lower the harness height with the squeeze of a lever, without having to uninstall the seat or re-thread harness straps.  Also, the unique InRight LATCH system is easy to install and even easier to uninstall, unlike those on many basic entry-level carseats” CarSeatBlog.com. Available now.
  • ✔ Graco Head Wise convertible car seat. $199.99. Similar to the Size4Me but with side impact protection. Available now.
  • The First Years True Fit iAlert convertible car seat. $399.99. “Features car seat monitoring system designed to alert parents of potentially life-threatening situations.” Press release. JPMA Innovation Award winner. Release date unknown. Available for preorder at Amazon.
  • Diono Radian GTX convertible car seat. $369.99. Sarah says, “The Radian GTX is only sold by authorized independent stores and offers some extras like a free seat protector, 10 year warranty (first and only by Diono), 2 cup holders, and more plush PureFab stain resistant fabric.” Available now.

Car Seats | Infant
  • Uppababy Mesa infant car seat. $280. “The car seat has side-impact protection with a nice visual cue on the adjustable headrest that shows exactly where the head should be positioned relative to the side cushions for optimal protection. The harness adjusts quickly and easily with no rethreading necessary. The lowest harness position is optimized for preemies.” MBeans.com. Available in May.
  • Maxi Cosi Prezi infant car seat. $289.99. “Superior Side Impact Performance: Featuring New G-Cell HX & Air Protect technology; Easy-out harness lifts out of the way; 5-position no re-thread adjustable headrest; 5-point; harness with Center Front Adjust; 5-position adjustable base with built in Rebound Control; 1-click mini LATCH connectors” EverydayFamily.com. JPMA Innovation Award winner.
  • Cybex Aton 2 infant car seat. Price unknown (though the original Aton runs $249.99). “Height-adjustable load leg; increases stability and improves crash protection” Car Seat Blog. Also features Linear Side-impact Protection. Available mid 2013.

Thanks to BC Facebook page admins Nava, Leah and Sarah for their help with this series of posts.

Which of these seats grabs your attention the most?

See more new gear for 2013: Part 2: Strollers and Carriers | Part 3: Boosters, Breast Pumps and More 

Related: “Buy It Now” Pricing on 13 Bestselling Car Seats 

Top Convertible Car Seats Under $150: 6 Picks

Repeat after me: I do not need a convertible car seat that costs more than $150. I do not need a convertible car seat that costs more than $150…

It’s true! It’s easy to spend big on car seats, but the seats on this list will serve your family well for much less–less than $150, to be exact.

These seats are on the list because they’re priced right AND they get good reviews and ratings from folks who know about seats and safety: The American Academy of Pediatrics, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the folks at Car-Seat.org and others.

Notes on choosing a seat: All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. And remember, there is no perfect seat for every child. Ultimately, the seat that’s best is the one that fits your vehicle and your child well. For more info on choosing a car seat check out Car-Safety.org’s “basics” page.

Under $100

Cosco APT 40RF Convertible Car Seat: $59.99 at Diapers.com

Highlights: RF: 5-40 lbs. FF: 22-40 lbs. – 19″ to 36″. 4 harness heights. 3 buckle locations. Side Impact Protection. 5-point harness with up front adjuster. | Car-Seat.org review

Safety 1st OnSide Air Protect Convertible Car Seat: $59.99 at AlbeeBaby.com

Highlights: RF: 5-40 pounds. 19″ to 40″. FF: 22 to 40 lbs., 34″ to 43″, 4 harness heights and 3 buckle locations. Air Protect Revolutionary Side Impact Technology: Breakthrough system shields head and immediately reduces side impact forces through the precise release of air. Nava notes that the OnSide “is pretty much a Scenera in ‘fancier’ clothing.”| CarSeatMoms.com review

Safety 1st Guide 65: $78.27 at Walmart.com

Highlights: RF: 5-40 lbs and 19″-40″. FF: 22-65 lbs and 34″-52″ tall. 5 harness heights and 3 buckle locations. Sturdy frame with side impact protection. | CarSeatMoms.com review
$100 to $150

Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat: $125.99 at AlbeeBaby

Highlights: RF: up to 40 lbs. FF: up to 65 lbs. up to 50″ height. 5-point, front-adjust harness. Removable infant insert and headrest. Side impact tested for occupant retention by the harness system. EPS foam for effective impact energy management. | CarSeatMoms.com review

The First Years True Fit Recline C650: $128.60 at Dealomite

Highlights: Great ease-of-use rating. For use with children 5-65 lbs and up to 50′ tall. RF: up to 35lbs.Easy-to-read center angle indicator with two position settings. Easy adjust, no rethread harness for use to 65 lbs.

Safety 1st Complete Air 65 Convertible Car Seat: $149.99 at AlbeeBaby. [Edited: Amazon has it for 115. Thanks, Brandi!]

Highlights: RF: 5-40 lbs. and 19-40 inches (head below top of headwings). FF: One year of age and 22-65 lbs. 34-45 inches, shoulders below top of harness, ears below top of headrest. Breakthrough system shields head and immediately reduces side impact forces through the precise release of air. QuickFit Harness System adjusts harness height from the front in one easy step without uninstalling from the car. One Click LATCH installation system allows for faster and easier installation when moving between vehicles. | CarSeatMoms.com review

Which looks best for you? Do you have any other seats you’d put on the list? 

Thanks to BC FB page admins Nava, Sarah and Leah for help with this post!

More Resources 

IIHS Releases 2011 List of Booster Best Bets

When your child outgrows other forms of forward-facing restraints, it’s time for a booster. But which ones are best?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just released its latest report with belt fit data on 62 booster seats. Of those 62, each model that could be used as a high back and a low back booster was considered to be 2 separate boosters for a total of 83 seats evaluated.

Of those 83, a record 31 seats were listed as “Best Bets”(meaning that they fit most kids well in most cars) and five seats were listed as Good Bets (acceptable fit in most cars). 41 seats fall into a middle “Check Fit” category (they work in some cars, but not others). Six seats were not recommended.

Seats failing the test due to poor seatbelt fit:

  • Evenflo Chase
  • Evenflo Express
  • Evenflo Generations 65
  • Evenflo Sightseer
  • Safety 1st All-in-One
  • Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite

“If the booster isn’t doing a good job — if the lap belt is up on your son or daughter’s tummy or if the shoulder belt is falling off your child’s shoulder — then find a replacement booster seat as soon as practical, but you’ll probably want to keep using the old one until then,” says Anne McCartt, the Institute’s senior vice president for research.

Popular “Best Bets” include seats at a wide range of price points: Cosco Pronto (high back, about $40), Diono (Sunshine Kids) Monterey (currently about $112), Britax Frontier 85 (high back, currently $212.49), Graco TurboBooster Baldwin and Elite (highback, $69.98) , Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (high back, currently $159.99), Recaro Vivo (high back, currently $82.59), and Evenflo Big Kid Amp (low back, currently $24.99)

You can see more results at the IIHS website., and you can get the full list of model numbers and booster pics here.

Other resources:

See more essential car seat posts at BabyCheapskate.com.

“Buy It Now” Pricing on 13 Bestselling Car Seats

How do you konw when it’s time to pull the trigger on a car seat purchase? I’ve analyzed sale prices on a dozen of the most popular infant, convertible, 3-in-1 and booster seats to find the “Buy It Now” prices.

These “Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price. You can beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale. I’ve also told you who has the best price right now on the seats.

The Seats:

Chicco KeyFit 30 in Adventure: List Price: $180 | Buy Price: $151 (16% off)

Graco Snugride 35 in Rittenhouse: List Price: $160 | Buy Price: $138 (14% off)

Britax Chaperone: List Price: $230 | Buy Price: $175 (24% off)

Britax Marathon 70, Onyx: List Price: $280 | Buy Price: $210 (25% off)

Cosco Scenera in Sunapee, Stone, Black Santee, or Medallion: List Price: $60 | Buy Price: $39 (35% off) Note: the Scenera RF runs a little higher. Buy price on that is about $75.

Britax Boulevard 70, Onyx: List Price: $310 | Buy Price: $245 (21% off)

The First Years True Fit, Casino: List Price: $200 | Buy Price: $140 (30% off)

Evenflo Tribute in Kristy: List Price: $70 | Buy Price: $56 (20% off)

Graco MyRide 65 in Cuddle: List Price: $150 | Buy Price: $124 (17% off)

Britax Roundabout 55 in Onyx: List Price: $200 | Buy Price: $160 (20% off)

Britax Frontier 85 in Rushmore: List Price: $280 | Buy Price: $225 (20% off)

Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 in Matrix: List Price: $180 | Buy Price: $138 (27% off)

Recaro ProRIDE in Envy: List Price: $280 | Buy Price: $224 (25% off)

I’ll be posting similar lists for other baby gear categories in the future. Stay tuned!

AAP Releases New Car Seat Recs [Plus Essential Car Seat Shopping Tips]

As you may have heard, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have released new car seat guidelines. The AAP and NHTSA now recommend the following:

  • Keeping toddlers rear-facing until they’re two years old.
  • Keeping kids in boosters until they’re 4 feet 9 inches (between 8 and 12 years of age).
  • Kids under 13 should ride in the back seat.

That means some of you may have suddenly found yourselves in the market for a new seat. Here are a few tips to help you choose:

Choosing a Convertible Seat

We’ve seen several new high weight limit convertible car seats hit the market over the past year or so, and these new recs will no doubt encourage car seat makers to release even more models. The following sites offer recommendations, ratings and reviews of convertible seats:

  • The NHTSA gives the following rear-facing convertible car seats an overall Ease of Use rating of 4/5 stars: Britax Advocate 70, Britax Boulevard 70, Britax Marathon 70, Evenflo Momentum 65 DLX with SureLatch, Evenflo Momentum 65 LX with Quick Connector, Graco MyRide65, Recaro ProRide. The The First Years True Fit Premier  and the The First Years True Fit Recline are the only seats to get 5/5 stars.
  • CarSeatSite.com likes the Combi Coccoro and the Cosco Scenera 40RF, Evenflo Triumph 65, and the First Years True Fit
  • CarSeatBlog.com recommends the Britax Advocate, Cosco Scenera, Graco MyRide65, Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL, Safety 1st Complete Air 65 LX, First Years True Fit, Evenflo Triumph Advance 65 and a few others.

Seats that we see on multiple lists AND cost less than $200 include the budget-friendly Cosco Scenera 40RF ($63; rear faces to 35 lbs), Graco MyRide65 (lists for $159, rear faces to 40 lbs), Evenflo Triumph 65 ($140, rear faces to 40 lbs.), and First Years True Fit Recline (currently $152.84 at Amazon, rear faces to 35 lbs). The Britax Marathon 70 has gone below $200. It usually hovers around $220 (rear faces to 40 lbs).

Choosing a Booster

  • For boosters, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives a”Best Bet” rating to the following boosters: Cosco Juvenile Pronto, Britax Frontier 85, Clek Oobr, Graco TurboBooster Crawford, Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR, and Recaro Vivo. You can see the complete list here.
  • The NHTSA gives a 5-star Ease of Use rating to boosters including Chicco KeyFit Strada, Compass B505, The First Years B570 Pathway, Magna Clek Oobr, Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR, Evenflo Big Kid Amp, Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (No Back).
  • Some forward-facing only combination seats offer extended 5-point harnessing for older kids. Popular models include Graco Nautilus ($135, 5-pt harnessing to 65 lbs., and Britax Frontier (currently $209.99; 5-pt harnessing to 85 lbs.).

There is no perfect seat for every child. Ultimately, the seat that’s best is the one that fits your vehicle and your child well. For more info on car seats, check out Car-Safety.org’s “basics” page. CarSeatData.org lets you check the compatibility of your car with various seats.

What do you think of the new car seat safety recommendations?

 

IIHS Releases 2010 List of Booster Best Bets

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report Wednesday with crash test data on 72 booster seats.

Seats failing the test due to poor seatbelt fit:

  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe (combination highback)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1 (highback)
  • Evenflo Express (combination highback)
  • Evenflo Generations 65 (combination highback)
  • Evenflo Sightseer (highback)
  • Harmony Baby Armor (dual backless)
  • Safety 1st All-in-One (3-in-1 highback)
  • Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite (3-in-1 highback)

Testers cited poor seatbelt fit: “A good booster routes the lap belt across a child’s upper thighs and positions the shoulder belt at midshoulder,” says the report (see image).

The report gave a “best bet” rating to 21 seats and a “good bet” rating to 7 more. The rest of the seats were found to work well in some vehicles but not others.

Popular “Best Bets” include Cosco Juvenile Pronto, Britax Frontier 85, Clek Oobr, Graco TurboBooster Crawford, Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR, and Recaro Vivo.

Good Bets include Graco TurboBoosters Sachi and Wander, Evenflo Symphony 65, and Britax Parkway SG. You can see more results at the IIHS website.

When choosing a seat, you might also check these seats against the National Institute for Highway Safety’s Ease-of-Use ratings.

Other resources:

  • SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. offers  several other booster resources.
  • For all things car seat, I recommend checking out the discussions at Car-Seat.org.

See more essential car seat posts at BabyCheapskate.com.

Essential Posts: Car Seats

For your browsing pleasure, a list of BabyCheapskate.com’s latest essential articles on car seats:

Baby Cheapskate Infant Car Seat Guide

Best Convertible Seat Under $100? BC Asks the Experts

Booster Seat Best Bets: Safety Ratings from IIHS

Booster Seat Best Bets: Safety Ratings from IIHS

In the market for a booster?

On December 22, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released new safety test results for booster seats. They tested 60 2009-model seats using a dummy the size of an average six-year-old. Their “Best Bets” include the nine seats “most likely to position lap and shoulder belts correctly on many children in many cars, minivans, and SUVs.” Of the nine Best Bets listed, which range from $25 to about $279, seven are high-back boosters. Dual-use seats, which can be high-back or low-back, were given a rating for each mode of use.

IIHS Best Bets (in no particular order):

  • Britax Frontier (~$279)
  • Clek Oobr (~$275)
  • Cosco Juvenile Pronto (~$35)
  • Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (~ $65)
  • Maxi Cosi Rodi XR (~$160)
  • Recaro Vivo (~$99)
  • Recaro Young Sport (~$212)
  • Combi Dakota (~$40)
  • Evenflo Big Kid Amp (~$25)

See more: “Good Bets” | “Not Recommended

Download the consumer-friendly full report (.pdf), including a list of all the seats tested.

You might also check these seats against the National Institute for Highway Safety’s Ease-of-Use ratings. The Eddie Bauer, Evenflo, and Cleck seats earn 5 stars there.

Other resources:

  • SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. offers a handy .pdf with fit weight limits and specs on different seats.
  • For all things car seat, I recommend checking out the discussions at Car-Seat.org.