The Car Seat Lady

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The Car Seat Lady made a recent visit to our house. We were getting ready for a big road trip and wanted to install our new Britax FRONTIER 85. My daughter is helpless to resist the temptations of pink, so when the new seat arrived I knew we had to get it in ASAP.

Alisa Baer, MD (AKA The Car Seat Lady) and I emailed back and forth about the kids'?? weights and the make and model of the seats. Alisa graduated from NYU Medical School--homework and research come naturally to her. She always does a bit of research before showing up and I was extremely impressed with her knowledge. When she arrived, Alisa looked at the current configuration of the seats in our CRV. Our first mistake? The tethers were sharing a hook AND they were also in the wrong spot.

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We unhooked the tethers and then properly placed them on the tether anchors in the vehicle (which in my CRV was confusing--as the tether anchor for the center seat was on the roof, but for the two side seats was on the back of the vehicle seat). Next, Alisa checked how tightly I had the seats attached to the LATCH system. I'??d done a pretty good job, but with a little trick they were even more secure. Alisa showed me how to recline the vehicle seat and then tighten the belt holding the car seat. When the vehicle seat is returned to its upright position the car seat is snugger than I'??ve ever had it.

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It was time to put in the newBritax. We'??ve had a Frontier for a year or so and I'??ve been pretty pleased with it. The new 85 looks even more promising. The cup holders are now built into the seat (not retractable) and the armrests are now in a fixed position. Safety-wise the Britax company has been busy. True Side Impact Protection The True Side Impact Protection technology on the Frontier 85 includes deeper side walls, and works to distribute crash forces, shield from vehicle intrusion, contain the head and body, and keep the head, neck and spine aligned. This is important because one in four of all motor vehicle crashes that involve children occur from the side, and these crashes result in a significantly higher injury rate than front or rear crashes.

Alisa made sure to tell safety issues and me to submit the registration form so I can be updated on recalls. She made sure I'??d set the shoulder strap at the right height. And then we started to route the vehicles seat belt through the Frontier 85. The serpentine method (also know as the "long path" in the manual) was quite tricky. I'??m happy that I had an expert on hand to show me the system. Our daughter is approaching 40 lbs. Once at 40, she cannot safely use the lower anchors of the LATCH system any longer. In our CRV the lower anchors have a weight limit of 40 pounds, therefore we installed the Frontier 85 using the vehicle's seat belt and the tether. Alisa said that the tether is the most important part of a forward-facing car seat and to use it regardless of whatever is connecting the bottom part of the car seat or the lower anchors.

Frontier 85 harness-2-booster is a new model that offers the highest harnessed weight and height capacity in the industry. Mr. Momtrends and I decided our almost 5 y.o. isn'??t ready for a booster. We tried one, but she kept wriggling out of the seatbelt. This model is designed to keep children in a five-point harness for as long as possible. Frontier 85 offers a total of 10 harness positions and three buckle strap positions. The harness also has a cobble weave design with sewn buckle stops to help prevent the harness from twisting and sliding out of place. The Frontier 85 comes in four fashions (pink for us!) with a suggested retail price is $279.99.

With the seats properly secured, we'??re ready to hit the road. Our recommendation: Find and expert in your area to help you install the seat. Its well worth the time and money. In NYC, check out Alisa'??s site here. Elsewhere in the country, visit www.seatcheck.org to find someone trained in your area.

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