Sunday, November 29, 2009

Coupon extended!

Due to popular demand, the Black Friday Weekend Sale has been extended!

Coupon code BLACK takes $5.25 off your total purchase and is now valid until midnight, Monday 11/30.

Why $5.25 instead of $5?  Don't question the savings, just save!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

BLACK FRIDAY WKEND: $5.25 Coupon Code

Shake off that turkey day daze and start saving!

Enter coupon code BLACK during checkout and save $5.25 off your purchase of regularly priced Car Seat Ponchos, from Friday 11/26 to Sunday 11/27.
(This will be the LAST coupon code until Spring 2010.)

Offer applies to new, online purchases of regularly priced merchandise only. Unfortunately, coupons cannot be used on clearance merchandise. One coupon per household. Purchaser is responsible for cost of shipping and handling. User name and password required. Pending purchases initiated during sale but completed 11/30 or later will receive check rebate in the amount of $5.25 with order shipment. For customer service, call 917-881-9044 between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Voicemail only on Thanksgiving Day, 11/26/09.

Best wishes for a happy & safe Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ask a lawyer what JJ Cole says about Bundle Me and car seats!

Regarding my post this week on the Bundle Me, one of my FaceBook friends asked, "Is there any pressure by parents or advocates to the Bundle Me makers?"

Answer:  Yes.  So much so, in fact, that JJ Cole, the manufacturer of Bundle Me, has a set response to these concerns. In 2007, there was a thread on this topic on, and o_mom, a CPST, posted this:

"Here is what they say (wording is very important):
"Tests performed on infant car seats with the Bundle Me® installed found that the car seats complied with the Restraint System Integrity and Occupant Excursion portions of the FMVSS 213 requirements. They are NOT saying that the Bundle Me passes FMVSS 213. They are claiming that they tested at least two seats with the Bundle Me installed and that those seats pass FMVSS 213 when used with the Bundle Me. Now, we have no idea what seats were tested and how many ways they were tested (every strap position, etc.) and so on, so it is still an unknown what will happen in your carseat the way you install it. "

Another point raised on the thread is that while their descriptions of the Bundle Me include "use with car seats," none of the car seats in which they PICTURE their product are ever actually IN CARS. They're on benches, on the ground, etc.  So are they actually saying their product can be safely used in car seats that are INSTALLED and IN MOTION? That would be a juicy point for lawyers' feasting if any litigation arose.

So clever are those lawyers, no?

Here's the thread for your bookmarks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Is the Bundle Me Bad in a Car Seat?

This questions comes up several times a year on parenting and safety boards across the internet:  Why do safety people tell you NOT to use the Bundle Me in a car seat?

The answer is that the portion that goes behind the child's back is too fluffy and thick, and does not allow you to properly secure your child in the car seat.  Fluff and bulk in FRONT of a baby and under the harness would compress in a collision, but fluff between the BACK of a baby and the car seat prevents the harness from being sufficiently tightened. 

While a Bundle Me does allow the harness to be directly on the child's chest, it provides only the illusion of security because of the extra "air space" in the back. In order for the harness to completely compress away that air space, it would have to squish down on all the baby fat, flesh and bone to an obviously ridiculous level.  No one would ever do that to her baby, so the extra space remains.  And THAT'S why the Bundle Me is bad for car seats.

To really illustrate the point, I want to highlight the excellent Bundle Me thread on BabyCenter's "Car Seat Questions" board that was posted early in 2009, by lullabymama.  She tested a real Bundle Me, a real car seat and a real baby to see if the fluffy back panel really made a difference, and took photos to document each step:
  • Step 1: Put Bundle Me on car seat, seat child and fasten harness to appropriate tension.
  • Step 2: Remove child, remove Bundle Me, re-seat and re-fasten child.
  • Step 3: Test harness tension by pinching harness straps above chest clip, near shoulder.  If more than 1" of strap can be pinched, the harness would be too loose to safely restrain a child in a collision.
Even I was surprised that the amount of slack!  I am going to bookmark that thread and refer to it whenever the question arises.  A picture is worth a thousand words, as well as the safety of your child.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Are you thinking of making a poncho to use in the car seat?

I just got another email from a mom who tried:
I tried to make my own, but I really can't sew so I tried a no sew option, using fleece. It worked, it was fast & easy, but it's not the greatest. It's only one layer and has no hood or zipper. It's working fine for now, as the weather hasn't gotten too cold here yet, but I'm going to need something better for winter! Keeping my baby safe and warm is the most important thing!
I promptly sent this mom a coupon code to save $10 off the price of a Car Seat Poncho.  Since it's two warm layers of 400-weight cozy fleece, it's like having TWO blankets snuggled over your little one.  Very warm, very safe, very convenient -- and very cute.

So if you made a poncho and wished it were warmer, cuter or more convenient, post to this thread and receive a $10 coupon code!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Maclaren Stroller Recall

On Monday, Maclaren recalled every stroller it has ever sold in the US, because of a mutilation hazard presented in the hinges.  Fingers on or near the hinge flex points can be severely pinched or even mutilated.

From what I've seen, one of the major places this can happen is on the main frame of the stroller, perhaps referred to as the "side bars".  Others refer to it as the "elbow hinge."  When the stroller is folded, the top and bottom bars of the frames "V" open.  When they are almost in line with each other, they snap into the elbow hinge with a clear click.  I'm not sure if there is a spring coil and that snaps the bars into the hinge, but when the stroller is opened, there is a noticable snapping sound.  This is the moment when a little finger (or a carrot) can be crushed (as demonstrated by a British news segment).

Here is a feature on ABC news, showing the area of hazard and potential injury.  Owners of Maclarens can contact the company for hinge covers.  They are made of black nylon and attach to the frame with velcro loops.

There are a lot of comments out there about how silly this recall is, e.g., "Who lets their kid stand so close to the stroller anyway?"  I can see exactly how and why.  While a mom is trying to keep a bag from falling off her shoulder, close the trunk, and unfold a stroller, she also has to make sure her toddler does not wander away.  Since she can't hold the child's hand AND do all of the above, she'll say something like "keep your hand on the stroller, sweetie."  That's also something moms say to their older children when they are putting a younger baby into a stroller, basically, "anchor yourself to something tangible until I can take your hand again."  Also, moms and kids do the in/out stroller routine so often, I could see how the child might be halfway seated in the stroller, or lowering him or herself into it, just before that final "SNAP."  So quit snickering, you know who you are, it could happen.

Personal anecdote vindicating purchase decision:  About 6 years ago, when my husband and I were shopping for strollers, we were pointed to the Maclaren, which was, at the time, the premium brand.  (This was before Bugaboo mania.) 

My top criterion was that the stroller be one-hand foldable, and Maclaren did not fit the bill.  When the salesperson demonstrated the whole "kick it with your foot, fold it forward, then collapse it to the ground" maneuver, I gave it a big thumbs-down.  I guess all that manipulation is required because of all the hinges, which allow the stroller to fold up so compactly.  Much more than I knew I'd be able to handle -- not to mention I'm somewhat of a tightwad, and would never spend that much on a stroller anyway.  We ended up with a Graco Citilite (since discontinued), which I could fold and lift into the trunk with one hand, in less than five seconds, while holding my baby in the other arm.  Used the heck out of that thing for five years, and it was under $100.

More links:
The official announcements by Maclaren USA and the CPSC PSA
A British news segment, featuring buggy as veggie snapper

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Can car seats be any safer?

I posted the following to the Car Seat Questions board on Babycenter, and am interested to know what you think:
On a recent Babycenter thread, I cheekily suggested a seat that fills with foam upon impact (which might not be all that safe, I know), but what else could there be?
With higher rf weight limits, higher weight FF seats, and SIP becoming the standard for new car seat models, what other safety features could manufacturers consider adding to car seats?

One thing that I could see is emergency locking retractor belts in car seats -- the kind that are sensitive to rapid deceleration, and have an inertial mechanism device that pulls the seat belt taut upon impact? I think the Safeguard seats had them (correct me if I'm wrong), but that seat was so expensive, and I believe Safeguard is no longer making that model.
Other ideas?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

More Safety Peeps Love the Car Seat Poncho!

The Car Seat Poncho gets the thumbs up from the Kyle David Miller Foundation, in their recent blog entry, "Dressing for Winter and Safety:"

... [The Car Seat Poncho] is wonderful, purpose designed poncho that keeps children both safe and cozy in your vehicle. The double zip function makes it easy to push aside the material in the front while you secure their harness underneath. The poncho then sits over the harness putting nothing bulky between your child, their seat and the harness. I love this product and it is my #1 child christmas/birthday gift.
I'm thrilled to be mentioned in their post, because keeping children safe is the super-duper, primo numero uno mission of the Kyle David Miller Foundation.  KDMF is a wonderful non-profit organization which seeks to increase awareness high-weight harnessing and donates high weight capacity 5 point harness car seats to low income families across North America.  It was founded in in December 2006 after the Miller family lost their 3 year old son Kyle in a motor vehicle crash on May 2005. The seat belt holding his booster seat failed and he was ejected from the vehicle and killed.

To support the goals of the foundation, H Barry Boo LLC donates $3 from the proceeds of every Pink Camo and Gadget poncho sale.  We call these Kyle's Ponchos.  When parents purchase either of these styles, they are not only keeping their children safer, they are helping an important cause and honoring the short life of a sweet little boy who was taken much too soon.
And while we're at it, why not throw in a BLOG SPECIAL:  From now until midnight Sunday, November 8, 2009, purchase either of Kyles's Ponchos and get a FREE MATCHING HAT.  Quantities are limited, so don't miss this chance to score a fetching, car seat safe winter ensemble for your little one.  Feel free to pass this info around to birth boards and Facebook friends!