Lessons Learned – Car Seat Safety

** This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting PGM!

You’ve probably seen this story circulating all over Facebook for the last week or so. I shared it on The Practically Green Mom Facebook page, and based on my post, one person has already told me that she turned her daughter’s seat back around. 🙂

But, Cameron’s passing should start a conversation about more than rear-facing vs. forward facing young children. We should really be talking about PROPER USE of ALL car seats. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about rear-facing vs. forward facing. Today, it’s still one of the most read posts on this blog, but I no longer agree with some of the information I provided my readers.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read the following graphic, and FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS in your car seat’s manual regarding installation and proper use of the seat (height and weight limits). Also, verify that your car seat is not EXPIRED by looking for a label on the seat itself. (Yes, car seats have expiration dates!)


If the label has a date of manufacture, but no specific expiration date (like the picture on the right above), you will need to verify the expiration year with the manufacturer. In this case, from the Britax website: “BRITAX convertible car seats manufactured after June 2010 (excluding the Classic line) have a service life of 7 years.” So, this seat with an August 2011 date of manufacture will expire in August 2018.

Rear-Facing (birth to age 2 minimum, ideally age 3-4)

The best way to keep your child safe is to have them rear-facing as long as possible. A child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Infant seats are not intended for long term use, as most babies outgrown them before their first birthday (usually by eight or nine months). If your child has outgrown their infant seat, the next step is a convertible car seat that can be installed rear-facing.

My son is 3 years old, and he could still be rear-facing…if we had a seat like the Graco Size4Me Convertible that would accommodate a taller child. (I believe this is the tallest rear-facing seat that is currently available.)

We have an older model Britax Advocate 70 CS Convertible – manufactured in 2011, which is outgrown in height earlier than some other seats (as I found out after I bought two of them…lesson learned!) Based on the “1 inch from the top of his head to the top of the shell” rule for this seat, my son has outgrown the rear-facing limits. The easiest way to measure this is to find a 1″ thick book, and put it on top of the head perpendicular to the shell. With the headrest in the way, you’ll have to eyeball it, but it’s pretty easy to see that we have 1″ or less between the top of his head and the top of the shell.


**The new Britax ClickTight Convertibles seem to have fixed this problem, though. Children can rear-face in these seats until their heads are one inch below the adjuster on the headrest, not just the shell. So, outgrowing the ClickTight seats in the rear-facing position by height won’t be an issue (even for really tall, skinny kids) as long as they are still under 40 lbs.

Forward-Facing (age 2 to age 5 minimum, ideally age 7)

As I mentioned above, the older Britax convertibles don’t accommodate taller children well, so he is also at the highest forward-facing harness level in the Advocate.


So, we are replacing that seat in DH’s car with a Harmony Defender 360 soon. The Defender is a Combination Seat, which transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness into a booster. This will allow him to continue forward-facing with a 5 pt. harness until he is old enough (and mature enough) to sit properly in a booster seat with a seat belt.

Another popular Combination Seat is the Britax Frontier 90 Harness-2-Booster which I have in my car now. It has the tallest forward-facing harness on the market as of this post. (See, I did my research this time! lol) It is ridiculously easy to install with the ClickTight technology, and my son has plenty of room to grow in it.


Booster (age 5 minimum to age 10-12)

There are three types of booster seats (confusing, I know!)

  • Combination Seat: As I mentioned before, this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a 5 pt. harness into a booster.
  • High Back Booster: Designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. Only for children who are old enough (age 5 minimum) AND mature enough (for many kids this isn’t until age 6-7) to sit correctly 100% of the time with only a seat belt. High Back Boosters are recommended for younger booster riders, because the high seat back reminds them to sit correctly, and they usually do a better job of positioning the seat belt on smaller children.
  • Backless Booster: Just like the High Back, it is designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. Be sure to have a vehicle headrest behind the child’s head, at least up to the tips of their ears.

Children should remain in booster seats until they are tall enough (4’9″ tall) to fit in a seat belt properly, which happens around age 11 for the average child. A proper seat belt fit meets the following 5 step criteria:

  • Child sits all the way back against the vehicle seat.
  • Knees are bent at the edge of the vehicle seat and feet are on the floor.
  • The shoulder belt fits evenly across the collarbone and sits flush with the torso. It does not cross the neck or face.
  • The lap belt is low on the hips, touching the tops of the thighs, not the stomach.
  • Child can stay comfortably seated this way for the entire ride.

And remember: your child should still ride in the back seat (even in a seat belt) because it’s safer there!

If you are getting concerned about the number of car seats you may have to purchase over your child’s 10-12 years riding in one, I have good news! There are a few seats on the market that could safely fit a child from birth to booster, including the new (and highly sought after) Graco 4ever All-in-One. (I wish I had one to review, because I have heard nothing but good things about it!) In fact, I did recommend another “all-in-one” seat (Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite) in my previous post, but I would like to retract that recommendation. I got this as a back-up seat for my in-laws’ car, and we’ve used it twice (I think) in over three years. While it is a perfectly safe seat in both rear and forward facing harnessed modes, it is not truly the “only seat you’ll ever need”. It is difficult to properly install rear-facing, and the versions with a 40 lb. harness limit may be outgrown very quickly height-wise. (Most of these models do not allow use of the top slot in harnessed mode.) This would cause a child to move into booster mode too early. And speaking of booster mode, several reputable sources and car seat techs do not recommend any child use this seat in booster mode due to inadequate fit.

I know I’ve given you a lot of information here, but it is SO important! Again, please FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS in your car seat’s manual regarding installation and proper use of the seat. If you have questions, PLEASE ASK a certified car seat technician! There are several Facebook groups (including Car Seat Safety), and online forums (like car-seat.org) with people ready to help you keep your child safe while riding in the car.

{This post is not affiliated with any car seat manufacturer, but does contain Amazon.com affiliate links. Making a purchase via these links helps support this blog. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.}

phil&teds Stroller Deal at zulily!

Recently, my husband and I have started contemplating adding a new baby to our family.  We’re not in any hurry to do so, but just the possibility of it being sooner than later has me thinking about what we will need to care for two children.

phil&teds stroller


So, I started doing some research on double strollers.  At the top of my list is the phil&teds Promenade Premium Urban Stroller, and this week only (August 1-8), zulily.com has them on sale! The stroller is $499.99 (reg. $850) and a second seat is only $99.99 (reg. $160).


What’s so great about the phil&teds Promenade Premium Urban Stroller?

  • Accommodates children from birth to age four
  • Can be used as a single or double stroller
  • Has eight seat configurations to allow traveling with two infants, an infant and toddler, or two toddlers
  • Has an adjustable handle (which my tall husband will appreciate)

I also found this video review on YouTube, so you can see it in action. (I’m not sure why it looks stretched out…sorry!)


philteds_vch_v1_9999_200_black_1374858946 The phil&teds Promenade Premium Urban Stroller has great reviews on Amazon and other sites, as well!  And if you already own a phil&teds stroller, you can stock up on accessories for it at zulily for a great price!  They have a bottle holder, storm or sun cover, car seat attachments, and more!

{I am an affiliate blogger for Zulily. This post contains affiliate links that support this blog. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.}

Okiedog Backpack & Diaper Bag Review

In preparation for our next road trip, I was thinking about buying a new diaper bag. Luckily, Okiedog sent me a couple of their products to review, so I didn’t have to! (They’re also sponsoring a giveaway – beginning June 10th!)


Since my little man is almost two now, I don’t necessarily need a large diaper bag if we’re just running errands for a few hours. I thought the Wildpack backpack would be a great alternative for the few things we might need – two cloth diapers, a small wetbag, a pack of wipes, and a change of clothes. It was a tight fit, but I still had a little room to fit my wallet in, too.


I love so many things about this backpack! First of all, it is ridiculously cute! It comes in several animal designs. (Ours is a tiger. Raaar!!) Little man loves the fuzzy ears. It lays flat which makes it super easy to pack. It’s definitely smaller than the other kids backpack we have, but I prefer that because it actually fits on his back. (Though, I do which the straps had a little padding.) It works just fine for a morning out and about, and will be great on road trips to pack his toys in!


When we’re traveling for several days, however, the Shuttle diaper bag is exactly what I need to pack up little man’s stuff! It is one of Okiedog’s largest diaper bags, and it comes with all of the bells and whistles – the included accessory set has stroller clips, an accessory bag, an insulated bottle holder, and an antibacterial changing mat. (This is going to come in very handy for truck stop diaper changes!)


There are three roomy pockets on this bag. The main compartment has a zippered pocket, two large open pockets, and two little straps to snap stuff on to avoid smaller things getting lost! The front of the bag has two smaller pockets for more storage. One contains deep pockets for bottles or sippy cups, though only the middle one is insulated as far as I can tell (but you also have the separate insulated bottle bag with this set). The front pocket is just for mom (or dad) – it has a phone pocket and a strap to hook your keys onto. (Perfect, because I tend to just toss them in bags, then they get lost in the abyss…)

image (2)

What I love most about this bag, though, is how easy it is to carry – you have so many options! There’s a sleeve on the back that allows you to slide it onto the handle of your rolling suitcase, you can attach it to your stroller with the accompanying stroller clips, and carry it like a shoulder bag OR a messenger bag!


Our Okiedog bags will definitely be with us all summer! They are the perfect companion for a short day trip, or a long holiday weekend!

Happy Traveling!

As a special bonus – readers of The Practically Green Mom get 20% off their order at okiedog! Use code 3916 – good through July 31, 2013!

{Okiedog sent me two bags of my choice in exchange for a review. All opinions are 100% my own. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.}

Strolling through the Holidays Giveaway

Would you like to go strolling with your loved one this Holiday Season? 

The Blogging Mamas Network and KiddyUSA have come together to bring you a great giveaway for the brand new KiddyUSA City 'n Move Stroller
This stroller is the perfect companion – it's Lightweight {at only 21 lbs}, Comfortable for Mom/Dad and Child, and Maneuvers Easily.

The Kiddy brand, based in Germany, is synonymous with innovation and style when it comes to children's car seats and strollers and now the brand has launched in the US. 
The KiddyUSA City 'n Move comes in 7 fantastic colors {Winner will choose their Favorite!} and accommodates children 6 months to 55 pounds! 

To see even more of the City 'n Move Stroller, including detailed pictures and favorite features, read the KiddyUSA City 'n Move Stroller Review by Lindsey from So Easy Being Green.

The KiddyUSA City 'n Move Stroller is available at a variety of retailers.  The City 'n Move retails for $219.99 and will be available on Amazon very soon!


This giveaway is open to US residents, 18+ only.  Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 30th. 
To enter, please use the Rafflecopter Form below.



Disclosure:  Special thanks to Hosts According to Jenny, So Easy Being Green, Leetle Baby, and other Strollin' Bloggers!  Event bloggers are not responsible for Sponsor Prize Shipment.

Turn that seat around! (or not…)


As most of you probably know, I’m on a birth board with other moms who had babies in August 2011. Honestly, it’s kind of boring now that there aren’t any debates on vaccines, breastmilk vs. formula, etc. Everyone’s just doing what’s best for their family (which you should do anyway), so I’m just scrolling through post after post on Halloween costumes, and where to find the best coat for the cold weather that will never make its way here. (I bet you $10 DS will be in a t-shirt and jeans at Christmas!)

But, one post actually caught my eye today! It’s about car seats, and whether people have started turning their kids forward facing yet now that they’re one. Legally, in my state, you CAN turn a child forward facing at the age of one, AS LONG AS they are 20-22 pounds.

However, “the AAP advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.” (From the American Academy of Pediatrics)

Here is a fantastic graphic on car seat recommendations from the NHTSA (click the image to make it larger):

At 13 months and 24-ish pounds, {Hunter} exceeds the current forward-facing law, but his seat is still rear-facing (and will be until at least his second birthday).

We may not do everything “crunchy” around here, but we are extended rear-facing!

If you’re in the market for a new rear facing convertible car seat, there are a ton to choose from! (I can personally vouch for the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Convertible Car Seat & the Britax Advocate 70 CS Click and Safe Convertible Car Seat. Both are fantastic!)

{This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure policy.}

Baby Bargains

I ordered Baby Bargains (the book that was discussed in the comments of this post) off of Amazon, and it got here today. (Thanks Amazon Prime free 2 day shipping!)

Over 500 pages of baby stuff to ooooh and ahhh over!! Hopefully, this will help me make some decisions…I’m just overwhelmed by all of the CHOICES for baby gear. What do I REALLY need? Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know?

If you’re interested, Baby Bargains also has a blog with information on recalls, etc.

And if you have any other book recommendations about pregnancy, babies, etc., send them my way!

Stroller search

I’ve been doing some research about strollers lately…and I think I may have found “the one”!

I had already decided against a bulky travel system, because I think it would just be too much for me to handle.  I was planning on going with a car seat carrier, like the Graco SnugRider Infant Car Seat Frame Stroller, then purchasing a separate stroller later.  A friend of mine has a Combi stroller for her 3 year old that she seems to like, but I tried to push it and it’s kind of difficult to steer (and that was without the kid, it just had shopping bags in it!), plus it’s not a one-handed fold (though it does fold up quickly!)

But then I thought about the fact that I’ll probably need a double stroller down the line, and if I go that route, I’ll end up with THREE strollers and that seems a little silly.  I’m also considering babywearing (I love the Ergo!), so all things considered, the SnugRider car seat thing is out.

Back to square one…looking for a lightweight stroller that could accommodate an infant car seat when needed.

I liked the Graco Alano FlipIt Travel System, until a few days ago, when my friend over at New Mom Survival Adventure wrote about strollers

and I fell in love with the Baby Jogger City Mini.  It’s a little more than I was planning to spend…but look how easy it folds!


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