Tips and Tricks from a BIG-Little Happy Traveler!
A Guest Post by Ashley Weed Harnisch
Awareness around in-flight safety is ever-increasing thanks to the diligent work of both child passenger and air safety advocacy groups. The FAA1, AAP2, and the NTSB3 all recommend that children need to be appropriately restrained on an airplane. The Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives (B3A)4 allows us to see that aircraft incidents happen far more frequently than the media leads us to believe. An appropriate child safety seat eliminates the risk of your child being ripped from your grasp without warning during severe turbulence5, severe crosswinds6, runway accidents7, and even survivable crashes8. For a child under 40lbs and/or a child who is not mature enough to stay correctly seated with the airplane lap belt – the only option at this time is a FAA approved child restraint (i.e. car seat). Even after a child meets the minimum weight and maturity requirements to be safely restrained by the airplane lap belt, it is prudent to utilize their FAA approved car seat in-flight to eliminate the risk of damage from checking9, misrouting, or a total loss of the car seat! Two great sources already exist to provide you more detailed information on why a FAA approved car seat should be used on an aircraft10, and recommend car seats that often meet the needs for traveling11.
Note: The CARES Airplane Safety Harness12 is currently the only child restraint device approved by the FAA other than car seats. It should be noted, however, that CARES utilizes the airplane lap belt to restrain a child. This provides a very small window of opportunity for appropriate use as the airplane lap belt does not appropriately fit a child until they are approximately 40lbs.
A common misconception is that car seats are too large, too bulky, or too heavy to transport around an airport. To reduce the frustration for those traveling with children, child passenger safety experts often recommend traveling with a lightweight seat. What happens when your child outgrows the frequently recommended lightweight car seats!? As a frequent flyer, I’m here to debunk the naysayers with tips and tricks on traveling with some of the longest lasting (extended rear-facing) seats on the market! Even a task as difficult as clearing immigrations and traversing two terminals in 15 minutes is possible with the proper tools. (Ask me how I know!)
When choosing a car seat for travel, there are two key items that I consider and weight is not one of them:
Ease of install: Installing a car seat for the first time in a vehicle you are not familiar with is difficult enough. Add in the fact that you have just walked off of a red-eye flight and you will be cursing like a drunken sailor in no time! One minute oversight when installing a car seat could prove to be catastrophic. I find it
less nerve-wracking to travel with the car seat that we use on a daily basis, which allows me to be accustomed to all of its intricacies. Two items that are always readily available in my bag to assist with various installs are a locking clip13 and a tether connector strap (also known as a d-ring, used to create a rear facing tether point specific to seats that allow rear face tethering)14 since there is such a wide array of install possibilities across vehicles and countries.
Fit on aircraft: While no FAA approved car seat should ever be incompatible with aircraft, many seats prove to be a very tight fit when used rear-facing, require the armrest to remain up, or must be carried down the aisle of the aircraft above the airplane seats. While taking the time to carry the car seat down the aisle may seem negligible, imagine how much time is consumed if you were to do that 20+ times each year; 50 rows can be a long and tedious walk! How would you manage any other items going in-cabin with you during that time? Don’t forget about your little one either! As a frequent flyer, it was quintessential that we travel with a car seat that minimizes the door-to-door hassle by seamlessly fitting down the aircraft aisle.
This brings me to two seats that get a big “Gold Star” from a Mama who spends almost as much time looking down at the clouds as I do looking up at them! These two companies are both leaders in extended rear-facing seats, but most importantly they make some of the narrowest profile seats on the market, which allows for the car seat to be maneuvered down the aircraft aisle with minimal effort.
A big thumbs-up goes out to the engineers at Clek. Their tidy and sleek design makes my heart melt. Their minimalist design is number one on my list of features unique to the Clek convertibles that may often be overlooked by someone who is new to travel.
Tidiness: Every part of the car seat – from the LATCH belt and tether to the manual – has a special little cove! The built-in lock-offs allow for a quick and easy install across a wide variety of vehicles. The Clek Fllo conveniently has a fold-under rear-facing recline foot that reduces the number of items you need to keep track of when traveling and the optional anti-rebound bar can be placed within the harness the same way your car seat arrived from the factory or left at home for safe keeping. Clek also offers several fun designs from Tokidoki and Paul Frank to keep your little one excited and intrigued with their car seat – even at 30,000 feet above the ground!
Narrow profile: The compatibility of Clek’s narrow profile convertibles and the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate16allows for effortless travel (the Go-Go Babyz Mini Travelmate is another compatible option) . One of the most difficult components to travel with little ones is the final phase from the gate to your seat. This combination allows you to not only maneuver the car seat with ease throughout the airport, but also conveniently lets you roll your car seat straight to your assigned seat. With two quick motions the Travelmate folds compact for easy stowing in the overhead bin.
Pro Tip: When arriving at the x-ray belt, you should see a small passageway either to the left or the right of the x-ray machine. You can park your Clek – attached to the Travelmate – at this passageway and then proceed through the x-ray machine as directed. Security personnel will promptly retrieve the items and maneuver them past the x-ray machine for a hand screening. When in doubt, a pleasant “Hello Ma’am/Sir, my child’s safety restraint is too large to pass through the x-ray machine. Where would you like me to position it for a hand screening?” should suffice and get you quickly back on your way to the gate.
Anti-Rebound Technologies: Unlike the Foonf, Clek’s Fllo can be installed in a rear-facing position without the use of the Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB). With the continuous reduction of economy class seat space, every inch of space is valuable and can often be the difference in achieving a proper car seat install. The Fllo’s advantage extends to installing the car seat in a vehicle once you have reached your destination.
Note: Clek convertible car seats conveniently allow for the use of either the ARB or a rear-facing tether when installing in a vehicle that provides dedicated rear-facing tether points. In the US, vehicles typically restrict the use of a Swedish style rear-facing tether (for the select few car seats which allow for rear face tethering), but the practice is more common in other countries. Clek also prohibits the Fllo from overhanging the vehicle seat, so the ability to remove the ARB is often necessary for a proper install in some vehicles.
The Diono Radians get an A+ for ingenuity. There are three features unique to the Diono Radians that may often be overlooked by someone who is new to travel:
Fold flat design: The Diono Radians have a convenient fold flat design. Not only does this allow the car seat to be carried like a backpack, but the car seat also fits on the airport security x-ray belt with ease. The Diono Radians can be carried on your back with carry straps18, or with Diono’s Car Seat Travel Bag19 which also conveniently holds the car seat’s rear-facing boot and the angle adjuster20 that is likely needed for any aircraft install and is also available for purchase separately. I highly recommend Diono’s travel bag if you are traveling with one of their car seats as it also keeps the LATCH straps and tether tidy while you chase your little one across the terminal – or make a mad dash for a connecting flight!
Bracing: While not an important factor to the majority of consumers in the US due to vehicle manufacturers prohibiting this practice, the Diono Radians do permit bracing.
This allows you to safely utilize the seat in a rear-facing position on even some of the tightest aircraft installs. Additionally, outside of the US, it is the norm rather than the exception for vehicle manufacturers to permit bracing of car seats. Vehicles outside of the US are often more compact and the ability to brace a rear-facing seat like the Diono convertibles can save you from playing vehicle roulette in the rental car parking lot. Unfortunately, this seat does not have a built-in lockoff so if you are traveling outside of the U.S. you may need to use the aforementioned locking clip since most vehicles outside the U.S. do not have locking seat belts, and ISOfix/LATCH may be unavailable.
Low profile: I’m convinced that one of Diono’s engineers is a frequent flyer and said “wouldn’t it be a dream if my child could appropriately use the tray table in flight”!? Diono’s low profile seats are often touted for ease of vehicle use when placing a child in the seat; however, this low profile design makes the Diono convertibles a dream during in-flight use with a child who is utilizing the seat in a forward-facing position.
Regardless of the child restraint device you choose to take with you on your next adventure, always consult the manual and know ahead of time where the FAA sticker is on your car seat. Reaching out to a CPST or the car seat manufacturer may prove to be invaluable to you as some seats have features or quirks (e.g. seat belt extender, reclining aircraft seatback then raising it back up after installing, leaving aircraft armrest up, etc.) that need to be accommodated when traveling. If you do not already own one of these two extended rear-facing seats, or if they are out of your budget for purchasing a narrow profile travel seat – never fear! Several budget-friendly and lightweight travel seats are available to choose from as well. Depending on the age, weight, and height of your child, the Cosco Scenera NEXT21, Safety 1st Guide6522, Combi Coccoro, Evenflo SureRide DLX 6523 or Evenflo Sonus or Stratos may all be great options for you. For a child over the age of 2, who is forward facing, the Graco Tranzitions, Harmony Defender 360, Cosco Finale or Evenflo Maestro may be worth considering. Feel free to consult my friends at Super Car Seat Geek24 to see which seat would be a good choice for your situation. The most important thing is to do is to travel safely and make lots of wonderful memories!
Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives4 http://www.baaa-acro.com/
severe turbulence5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvgDrw81B0g
severe crosswinds6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMUdXJPUwm8
runway accidents7 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/plane-skids-off-runway-at-new-yorks-laguardia-airport/
survivable crashes8 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/plane-crash-near-resolute-bay-kills-12-1.1021035
more detailed information on why a FAA approved child restraint device should be used on an aircraft10 http://csftl.org/leaving-on-a-jet-plane-the-csftl-guide-to-safe-air-travel-with-children/
recommend car seats that often meet the needs for traveling11 http://csftl.org/on-the-road-again/
locking clip13 http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/lockincss.aspx
a tether connector strap (also known as a d-ring)14
Clek Fllo15 http://amzn.to/2jsTX6Z http://clekinc.com/fllo/
Go-Go Babyz Travelmate16 http://amzn.to/2k7M2Qf https://www.gogobabyz.com/product-i14550-c26-gogo_Kidz_Travelmate_.aspx
Diono Radian17 http://us.diono.com/convertible-boosters
carry straps18 http://amzn.to/2hWw1II http://us.diono.com/accessories/radian-carry-strap
Car Seat Travel Bag19 http://amzn.to/2hVDvM5 http://us.diono.com/accessories/radian-travel-bag150521115326
angle adjuster20 http://us.diono.com/accessories/angle-adjuster
Cosco Scenera NEXT21 http://www.coscokids.com/car-seats/convertible-car-seats
Safety 1st Guide 6522 http://safety1st.djgusa.com/en/djgusa/search/convertible-car-seats
Evenflo SureRide DLX 6523 http://www.evenflo.com/Products/Evenflo/Car_Seats/SureRide_DLX/
Super Car Seat Geek24 https://www.facebook.com/SuperCarSeatGeek
Air Bags aren’t for Kids
Precious Cargo: a Guest Post by Lehigh Valley Find & Go Seek 12/27/13
What could be more important than ensuring that your children are as safe as possible when driving around town?
I have followed Super Car Sear Geek on Facebook for a while watching for tips, deals on car seats and interesting facts about car seat safety. It became clear very quickly that Abbie (aka Super Car Sear Geek) knows her stuff and is truly passionate about what she does. Her Lehigh Valley Car Seat service offers FREE car seat checks to parents and caregivers in the region and has invaluable advice for families through her courses, checks and other available services. Recently partnering up with fellow CPST Erica McCabe the service has now expanded to provide car seat checks in the Pocono region also!
Personally, I thought I knew everything I needed to know (I bet you do too). Abbie can teach even a seasoned parent some new tricks for keeping safe while driving ( I promise!). Attending a class and scheduling a car seat check probably are not high on your to do list, they weren’t high on mine either. Keep reading and see why you might want to re-evaluate that to-do list, it will be worth your while! I cannot say enough how much this class and car seat check boosted my confidence in my ability to secure my children in our vehicles. It say sound “geeky” but the first time I drove with them in the back seat I thought to my self “I KNOW they are as safe as they can be” and I actually felt better and safer while driving them around.
Car Seat Class
I recently attended her “Crash Course: Car Seat Safety for Caregivers” at The Growing Place (www.thegrowingplacepa.com) in Emmaus. Abbie presented her course in an interactive, engaging way, by asking questions quizzing us on our past knowledge and by letting us be the inspectors of the seats shown above. She used videos that showed the severe impact that children endure during crashes. These videos showed in real time how improperly restrained children sustain impact during a crash.
One of the most important items discussed which is extremely relevant during the cold winter months, is the fact that children are NOT to wear bulky winter coats while restrained in a car seat or boosters! Abbie had creative suggestions for how to keep kids warm and safe during the chilly winter months. This class is highly recommended to parents-to-be, current parents, child care providers, and grandparents and would make a great gift!
The Growing Place
I attended my course at The Growing Place (http://thegrowingplacepa.com/) in Emmaus. This local business offers a variety of services to parents, parents-to-be and caregivers. Pre-natal massage, breastfeeding classes, birthing classes, doula services, car seat safety, baby sign language and more! This unique center hosts a variety of services that support families and mothers/mothers to be. They also host a free mom’s group for mothers and their children the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. Their home-like setting is comfortable and welcoming and is tucked just off of Main St. in Emmaus making it quite convenient. Stop in to see their location and meet their friendly staff or drop in to their mom’s group and meet some new friends and playmates.
Checking the Seats
Abbie and I met to check our current seats for proper installation and fit. Her evaluation was so thorough, I was very impressed. She checked each child’s weight and height and evaluated how they were sitting in their current seats. She determined our older child was near to growing out of her seat, which hadn’t occurred to me yet! There are factors that go into determining a fit that Abbie knew and I did not. Her check was much more comprehensive than the check we received from the local police station and The Personalized Quick Reference Guide seat she left us with is a great reference tool to follow along with and monitor for when our children are ready for another switch.
Car Seat Concierge
When purchasing car seats for our children the first 2 times we focused mainly on price, height and weight, looking for something that seemed to last a while and would meet our child’s needs. If you ever been to the car seat section at Buy Buy Baby or Babies R Us, you understand the veritable jungle that one encounters when shopping for a car seat, its a nightmare, how could you possibly pick the perfect seat at the best price to last a long as possible?!?! Abbie helps with this too, her car seat concierge service evaluates every variable that goes in to picking a seat and guides you to choose the best seat for your budget, child and car.
- vehicle make/model
- multiple vehicle usage
- child’s height/weight/age
- rear facing or forward facing variables
- price point/affordability
Her extensive experience with different seats, vehicles models and safety regulations will guide you in your purchase. This service was AMAZING! She guided us in our purchase, helped find a great deal on the seat we needed after noticing that we were about to outgrow the current seat being used. She evaluated our needs for a seat and made recommendations based our our children’s specific needs. I would never have been able to navigate the 1,000’s of available seats with such ease had it not been for Abbie’s advice. Our daughter was so excited by her new seat when it arrived, we regretted not wrapping it up for Christmas!
I highly recommend this service to anyone who is looking for a new seat for their child, it is 100% worth the cost, especially in that Abbie certainly knows where to find a great deal on seats, so your cost could easily be cancelled out by the savings you get on a great deal.
Interested in scheduling a free car set check? You can contact Abbie by phone or e-mail or through her facebook page. Like her page on facebook to follow along for great tips and tricks!
Want to find a class to attend? Keep an eye on
What people are saying … See reviews and raves about Abbie’s services here: http://lehighvalley.findandgoseek.net/listing/super-car-seat-geek-/healthy-families
Thanks for visiting and please be sure to stop byhttp://lehighvalley.findandgoseek.net for more Lehigh Valley family resources, activities and fun for kids!
(The original blog post can be found at: http://lehighvalleyfindandgoseek.blogspot.com/2013/12/precious-cargo.html )
Cozywoggle Jacket Review 11/1/2013
It’s November and it’s officially getting cold in many parts of our country! If you’re like most parents, you’ve been starting to look around for a nice, thick winter jacket to keep your child toasty warm during the cold winter months ahead.
But did you know that most winter jackets are extremely dangerous to wear in the car? If you’ve ever seen the infomercials for those space-saving bags, you can easily visualize what happens to a traditional winter jacket when force is applied to it – it compresses. This leads to dangerous slack in their harness or seat belt during a crash, which could lead to injury or even ejection from their seat and/or from the the vehicle itself!
So what’s a parent to do? Well, there are several safe options:
- A single-layer, form fitting, waist-length fleece jacket is safe to wear in the car since it’s already pre-compressed. A second, more traditional jacket can be purchased for your child to wear when playing in the snow.
- You could remove your child’s thick winter jacket and put it on them backwards after strapping them in, but this can be time consuming and frustrating – let’s face it, when it’s freezing outside, we all want to get things done as quickly as we can!
- A Car Seat Poncho is a safe & popular product for parents with small children, but since ponchos are open on the sides, it’s not very conducive to playing in the snow and can be a bit drafty on some of those blustery winter days.
Recently, I came across a new product called the Cozy Woggle jacket and it really caught my eye! It looked like it might be a great solution for a lot of families so I was thrilled to get my hands on one a few days ago.
The Cozy Woggle looks just like a traditional winter jacket, BUT the sides of it actually *unzip* to make it car seat friendly! Your child will just walk out to the car with the jacket intact and climb into their seat. You’ll unzip the sides of the jacket and they’ll simply pull their arms out of the elastic wrist bands. The back of the jacket easily flips up and over the back of their car seat. All you’ll do at that point, is reach under the front of the jacket and buckle your child into their seat. The front of the jacket will cover your child’s torso & lap to keep them nice and toasty. If they get too warm during the car ride, it can easily & quickly be removed and set aside until you reach your destination. Once you arrive, the child simply puts his or her arms back through the wrist cuffs. You quickly zip each side back down & you’re off!
(You can view one of their videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=En5PrGde90A )
The jacket is constructed from a heavy duty wind/water resistant polyester shell, a cushy polyester fiber-filled body & a soft fleece lining. The hood is removable to reduce possible bulk and/or for those who prefer to wear a hat. Since I just got the jacket last week, I cannot attest to its long-term durability. I don’t know that I’d expect it to be on par with something from L.L. Bean, but I have no immediate concerns at all.
The Cozy Woggle comes in a selection of popular colors, including navy blue, red, dark purple and pink. It comes in a nice variety of sizes too (12 mos to size 6)! I was especially thrilled to see it offered in some bigger sizes (note: the sizes 5 & 6 do not have the penguins embroidered on them. Instead, the company name appears).
Even though my 6-year-old son wears a size 5 top, I requested his jacket in a size 6 to leave room for extra layers (for playing in the snow) since I was unsure how the sizing ran. The jacket is definitely big on him, but that did not seem to be a hindrance in the car seats that he tried the jacket out in (a Britax Marathon70 and a Britax Frontier; both forward-facing). He said that the jacket is warm, soft and comfortable and wasn’t at all bothered by it in the car seats.
The Cozy Woggle currently retails for $74.99 (plus S&H) but they have very generously offered a discount especially for Super Car Seat Geek fans THROUGH THE END OF NOVEMBER 2013! Simply use the promotion code “CARSEATGEEK” when ordering athttp://www.CozyWoggle.com and you’ll instantly save $15!
As a mother & Child Passenger Safety Technician, safety in the car is paramount. I understand how dangerous a winter jacket can be when worn in the car. I feel confident in the safety of this product and I feel comfortable recommending the Cozy Woggle to other parents as one more convenient & effective way of keeping their child(ren) safe & warm in the car!