Child Passenger Safety and Feeding On The Go- Answers From a CPST

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Allana Pinkerton, CPSI
This post made possible by the generous support of Diono.

September is child safety month and we’re taking a look at safety and what we talk about most around here at TLB: feeding our kiddos. Many of us find ourselves needing to feed on the go, from a snack in the car to an entire meal between one activity and the next. 

Allana Pinkerton, a child injury prevention specialist, CPST/CPSI, and mom of two answered our questions on The Leaky Boob Facebook page Live Stream on what we can do to minimize risk when it comes to feeding our children on the go. A huge thanks to Diono in making this conversation with Allana possible.

Whether your child is 3 months old or 3 years old or 13 years old, it is very likely there will come a time when meal or snack time happens on the road. It probably goes without saying that the safest option is to not eat in a moving vehicle. But we all live in the real world and can’t just stay in a bubble so sometimes that’s just not possible so we’re looking at what we can do to make the mobile mealtime as safe as possible. Below are the questions we asked Allana and the Leakies.

When it comes to feeding our children on the go, when we’re in a moving vehicle perhaps on a road trip or having to grab something quick between scheduling commitments, what is important to keep in mind?

*Please note: for safety and to reduce distractions, the driver should never eat and drive.

  • A seat that is more inclined is not a safe option to have a child eat food. Solids shouldn’t be fed in a laying down position.
  • Nothing too hot.
  • When possible, have someone keep an eye on a very young child when they are eating in a moving vehicle. Determine if a mirror is a safe or distracting option for you.
  • Pick foods that are easy to swallow.
  • Avoid choking hazards- for babies and toddlers, nothing hard or like grapes and popcorn.
  • Foods that dissolve easily will reduce choking hazards (i.e. puffs and yogurt melts, etc.)
  • Contained foods that aren’t as likely to spill and get car seat straps wet.
  • Keep in mind, if you’re always eating in the car it may be time to reevaluate how much we’re doing.

Is there anything in particular we should avoid when it comes to feeding our children on the go?

  • Hard candies, even lollipops (a sudden stop could result in injury and/or choking).
  • Foods you know will be messy.
  • Foods that may damaging to your child’s car seat (sticky drinks, dairy, etc.).

What do we need to keep in mind when it comes to installing children’s seats? How can parents find a local CPST to help them?

  • Read the manual. If you’re unclear about something, call the manufacturer. 
  • Have your seat checked by a CPST and be sure they watch you install it and check your install as well, not just have them install it for you. Find one here.
  • Do not use after market products with your seat that are not made by or approved by your seat’s manufacturer (i.e. strap pads) as they could compromise the safety of your seat.

Breastfeeding in the car seat moving vehicle child passenger safety

Are there any safety concerns related to these breastfeeding or bottle-feeding a child in their car seat in a moving vehicle?

  • Propping a bottle for a child not yet able to hold their own is dangerous in that the child may be overwhelmed with the contents of the bottle and has a higher risk of aspirating. Have someone give the baby their bottle and be able to pay attention to them as they feed.
  • Keep in mind a bottle would become a projectile in the case of an accident. Use as small a bottle as possible.
  • Breastfeeding a child in a seat, even if the breastfeeding parent isn’t leaning over the seat, is a significant hazard in the case of a car accident as it places something in front of the child’s face. Physics tell us that in a crash objects (including a breast) will weigh their weight times the force of gravity of the crash. For example, a 30mph crash is around 20-25 G’s (force of gravity). Let’s say the breastfeeding parent weighs 140 pounds. Multiplied by 23 G’s (right in the middle) means 3,220 pounds. That’s the total weight of their body with the momentum of the crash. Their chest alone will weigh at least 1,000 pounds, if not more. Being positioned in front of or possibly over the baby to breastfeed, that’s a minimum of 1,000 pounds being dropped or slammed into the baby. Potentially crushing the child and injuring the parent. This all would be true even with a seat belt on the breastfeeding parent as the parent would not be positioned properly with a chest belt to restrain them from hitting their child in the case of a collision or sudden stop. (See more on this here.)

Feeding on the go means seats will likely get soiled, what do we need to know about cleaning our seats?

  • Never hose a car seat down, that can compromise not just the cover and straps but also the frame and internal materials.
  • Follow your manual’s instructions. 
  • Replace straps if webbing becomes soaked.
  • See these cleaning tips.

 

Allana Pinkerton is the Global Safety Advocate for Diono. She began her career in Child Passenger Safety as a National Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2001 and advanced into the position of a National Instructor in 2002. In 2004, she founded a non-profit organization, Sit Tight, which provided education and free car seats to underserve communities.
As the Global Safety Advocate, she facilitates educating the staff, consumers and the media about car seats. Allana works closely with the marketing team, educating at consumer and industry trade shows, as well as writing blogs on CPS issues. She is called upon to work with engineering and product development team on current and new products. As Diono expands across the globe, Allana continues to expand her role assisting the Diono European and China teams.
Allana has two children, Max (12) and Andrew (20) who is ironically a race car driver. She has been married to Paul for 22 years and he still cannot install a car seat.
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Free to be SAFE!- #TLBsafeKids with Clek

#TLBsafeKids

Hey Leakies,

It’s time to talk about practicing safe…ty.

We’re not here to feed into any anxiety or to cause any stress about your family’s safety.

Be honest, you probably do that just fine on your own.

Since so many of us parents have no problem worrying about our families we wanted to start something to actually help reduce that worry.

I know, right? How are we going to do that without alcohol?

Community. Better than fine wine.

Through the month of September and even far beyond we’re building community to share information, tell our stories, confess our fears, admit our mistakes, and help each other work out the right safety decisions for our families. Free of judgment, #TLBsafeKids respects the individual responsibility of parents for their family and trust them to make the best informed safety decisions according to their individual resources, circumstances, and access to information.

Respecting each other, ourselves, and our children, #TLBsafeKids brings together parents concerned about safety around information, ideas, and sharing our stories. And we believe it can be fun. Though there are aspects of safety conversations and education that can be scary, when we approach it with respect and a sense of fun it can become a part of parenting that isn’t dominated by fear and instead builds confidence in ourselves, our communities, and most importantly, our children. Together we are journeying toward health, safety, confidence, and awareness. Not as isolated individuals, but as a family, a community. With each other and with our kids, we’re taking steps to be confidently and freely safe. It may mean getting your car seat installation checked, reassessing your home for safety hazards, changing how you talk to your children, adjusting your sleep arrangements, fixing something broken in your home, you name it, you define what #TLBsafeKids looks like for you.

It all began in August 2014 with the first ever #TLBmoves and it took off. We cheered on some working on (and succeeding) quitting smoking, others had step goals to hit, there were those that started yoga or crossfit or pilates every day, and others started having salads every day. Getting moving together brought us closer together and we discovered that thanks to the global village of the internet, we could cheer each other on and have fun in the process. When we found ourselves stuck, we could be honest about the challenges we were facing and there would be no judgment, just support and encouragement. It was inspiring and we all wanted to keep moving. Nobody was judged and everyone was supported.

Not long after that we began dreaming about other ways we could support each other and other areas that can be difficult to address alone or where we fear judgment. Safety quickly emerged as an area that where many of needed judgment-free support and information sharing. And to safely admit our missteps along the way.

So #TLBsafeKids was born.

From sleep to babywearing, from car seats to home safety, from relationships to skin care, from health to cleaning products and so much more, we’re talking about it all with #TLBsafeKids and daring to honestly share the journey with each other without judgment. Ultimately, we believe this is the only way we can actually succeed.

#TLBsafeKids isn’t about wrapping our children in bubble wrap and keeping them from experiencing the world around them. Respectful of ourselves and our children, #TLBsafeKids aims to help each of us, parents and children alike, to tap into our own power to make confident decisions assessing risk, utilizing products, and employing strategies that allow us to live life to the fullest while being safe.

We hope you’ll join us.

It’s time for #TLBsafeKids!

Whatever area concerns you the most, our #TLBsafeKids community is here to support you. We may not have all the answers but you have our support in finding them.

Whatever your goal, you can join us for #TLBsafeKids!  This is all about embracing an intentional lifestyle that isn’t encumbered by safe practices but enhanced by them. No matter where you’re starting from and we’re here to support each other completely free of judgment each step of the way.

We have a team to help provide some inspiration, not with dictating how you decide to keep you family safe, #TLBsafeKids isn’t about acquiring a certain set of safety rules, but honest and respectful sharing of the journey we’re all on to keep our children safe. Kids in tow and personal goals put out there, our team isn’t to glamorize the journey, simply to share together one step at a time.

#TeamTLBsafeKids! Meet the five mamas who will be sharing their #TLBsafeKids journeys during the month of September:

Jessica: Founder, owner, and author of The Leaky Boob Facebook group and website; mother of six girls, ages 3, 5, 7, 12, 14, and 16.

Jasmine: is a stay at home mom of 4, 2 in heaven and 2 boys ages 4.5 years old and 7 months. Her eldest has Autism and they are currently implementing some new safety strategies according to his needs. Jasmine is a babywearing group leader in the Pacific Northwest.

Kileah: Member of TLB’s editorial team; mother of four children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 22 months. Kileah loves canning, cooking, and being with her family.

Brianne: work from home mom of 3 children, ages 11, 6, and 3 years old. Brianne is married to a fitness enthusiast but has struggled to find time for herself to do the same.

Meet our partners:

#TLBsafeKids is a big undertaking and we are so thrilled to be working with brands we believe in to bring you this event. Our partners really want to see families discovering the best safety practices for them! With information, education, and support, our partner brands is going out of their way to support YOU. Culminating with a giveaway featuring the best of all our partnering brands for #TLBsafeKids. We’ll be sharing photos of #TeamTLBsafeKids using gear from the following brands:

 

#TLBsafekids clek sponsor

Clek. Elemental safety is the Clek approach — the Clek way of thinking is about the performance of each of their products and the lives they are protecting. Essential elements and our methodology enable them to develop systems that work together to protect our kids. Manufactured in North America with a commitment to innovation without compromise and sustainability which is evident in their recycling program. Clek is striving to keep our kids safe today and tomorrow.

 

#TLBsafekids with California baby, skin deep safetyCalifornia Baby. With a mission to only create the safest natural products to soothe, nourish and smooth out life’s rough patches the natural way: one baby, one kid, one family at a time; California Baby makes it a priority to keep our kids safe from head to toe. They’re obsessed with purity and sustainability in every part of the process, from ingredient selection to manufacturing to packaging and beyond. With California Baby moms and dads who can rest easier knowing that they haven’t brought another unsustainable, toxic product into the house.

Newton Logo

 

Newton. A breathable crib mattress unlike any other. No matter where your baby sleeps, in their own room in a crib, in a crib side-car with your bed, in a crib in your room, or on a Montessori style bed on the floor, a breathable sleeping surface for you little one will let you breath easier too. Newton knows that your baby’s safety comes first and they also know how much you want to give them the right start in life. As experts in the area of sleep, they know just how important good sleep is for both of you. This is why they have devoted our time and expertise to creating a crib mattress that is not only safer, but also more comfortable.

#TLBsafeKids Health safety sponsor Crane

 

Crane. Since 2005, Crane USA has taken the lead in putting the “fun” into cool mist humidifiers, air purifiers, and space heating with a commitment to design for better living. Knowing just how much the air we breath impacts our health and safety, Crane products are functional and efficient at fulfilling your home health needs while communicating an appreciation for elegant design. With a unique sense of design and unwavering commitment to quality Crane continues to create their own distinctive interpretation of humidity, air quality, and heating solutions while remaining a step ahead of the crowd.

catbirdbaby_logo

 

CatBird Baby. Designed by a mom who needed help carrying everything with her baby, CatBird Baby Carriers are designed to be practical, stylish, comfortable, and easy to use. With a variety of products to support babywearing and make the babywearing experience even more enjoyable, CatBird Carriers are designed by a mom for moms and dads. Offering hybrid carriers along with standard designs, CatBird Carriers listens to parents and what they are looking for in a babycarrier.

Rhoost #TLBsafeKids partnering brand

Rhoost. Rhoost’s goal is to create products that allow parents to spend more time having fun with their kids, and less time worrying about them.  They are committed to creating innovative solutions that are safe for babies, safe for the environment, and easy to use. And they’ve succeeded. From baby grooming to cord winders, from finger guards to outlet covers and cabinet closures, Rhoost supports parents in safe, easy living.

When?
#TLBsafeKids runs run from September 1st-30st, 2015, but we hope you’ll keep growing, learning, and sharing long after the end of the month! (We may have something up our sleeves to that end, too!)

How?
Participation is up to you. How do you want to be involved? Want to share your story? Have some specific safety concerns you want to address in your own home? Are you passionate about certain aspects of safety and want to support others in learning about it? Is sharing the process and seeing how others are putting safe practices into place in their home helpful for you? Whatever it is, there are options for finding the way to participate that works best for you and your goals.

Where?
Anyone, anywhere can participate! We’ll be announcing some fun prizes from our brand partners this month, and those are limited to the United States at this time, but the world is your oyster if you want to get active with us!

JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP (Please note: this is a co-ed community where you’ll find support as we get active and learn about safety together. Judgement free! Come as you are, this group is your #TLBsafeKids tribe!)

Who?
You, your friends, your kids, your partner, your boss, your mom, your dad… anyone!  Though The Leaky Boob is focused on encouraging families primarily through breastfeeding, we support breastfeeding moms and everyone that supports them.  Breastfeeding isn’t a requirement to participate with TLB and #TLBsafeKids.

We’ll have more updates soon – in the meantime, please follow TLB on Instagram to keep up with #TLBsafeKids. Use the hashtag #TLBsafeKids on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share your pics. We want to see what you’re doing to keep respectfully keep your family safe and share the journey with you!

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Ask the CPST- of spit up, screaming babies, turning to forward facing, and tethering

This post features questions from readers for a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) focusing on car seats and is made possible by the generous sponsorship of clek who have made their staff CPSTs available to The Leaky Boob community in order to answer your questions and help you keep your children safe. 

smelly car seat

 

Dear Julie,

My daughter spit up badly in her infant seat and now the straps smell like spoiled milk. My sister-in-law told me that if I wash the straps it will ruin them and the car seat will be ruined. The whole car smells like old spit up, what can I do? 

Sincerely,

Gagging in Florida

 

Dear Gagging in Florida,

That spoiled milk smell is always a tough one to get out of anything! The answer to this question can vary widely based on manufacturer. The first course of action would be to refer to the instruction manual that came with your child’s car seat. Typically there will be instructions included within the manual that cover cleaning the harness system. If for some reason you cannot find this information in the manual, or the information provided doesn’t help remove the smell, then it might be time to give your seat manufacturer’s customer service department a call. They will be able to give you more personalized advice based on your individual situation. Sometimes, depending on the seat you have, replacing the harness straps may be necessary. I hope you are able to get the smell under control quickly and back to enjoying car rides.

Ride On!

Julie At Clek

 

Dear Trudy,

My son is 9 months and a big boy at 24 pounds. He hates his car seat, crying when we even start walking toward the van and when he is in it for much longer than 20 minutes or so, he starts vomiting. My husband wants to turn him around but I had planned to do extended rear-facing. I’m at a loss, what are our options? Is there anything we can do to help him? I’m not sure if he’s experiencing motion sickness in the van or if he’s just mad and ends up throwing up because he’s upset. We have older children with events and activities so just avoiding trips really isn’t possible but we’re all on edge any time we go anywhere because of his screaming. Please help, I hate seeing him so miserable.

Thank you,

On Edge Mom

 

Dear On Edge Mom,

It sounds like your little guy is having a tough time on car rides. I can sympathize with how stressful car rides are for your family right now. Sometimes kids just hate being in the car and buckled in, but a lot of times their crying is a way of communicating with us and telling us that something else is wrong. I’ll do my best to give you a few tips that will hopefully help to make car rides a little easier for everyone in your family.

If your son is still in his rear-facing only seat, then my first suggestion would be to move him to a rear-facing convertible seat. Sometimes a baby’s fussing is specific to one seat. Kids will often find infant seats to be more confining and uncomfortable as they get older, so if this is a relatively new problem, you may find switching seats solves your problem. Likewise, if the fussing started after moving him to a convertible seat, it’s possible that there is something in the seat that he finds uncomfortable – every seat is designed with different features, and while most babies aren’t picky, I have seen babies who cry in one seat but are happy in another. If the fussing just started when you moved to a rear-facing convertible seat, then you might consider trying a different seat if you have a trusted friend who might be able to lend you one. You’ll notice a change almost instantly if it is comfort related.

Some other tips that work with some children is having a variety of soft toys that they are given only in the car. At his age he might appreciate a cloth book with the corners that have the different teething textures if you can find one.

Sometimes unhappiness in the car around his age can be a bit of separation anxiety. If it’s possible to test another adult sitting in the back with him on a trip some time, that may give you a way to check and see if that is the trigger. That cause can be a little bit harder to deal with sometimes – but finding the cause is more than half the battle.

Rear-facing is absolutely the safest way for infants and toddlers to ride and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child ride rear-facing until at least their 2nd birthday. It’s great that you’re seeking out solutions to try and keep him safe and also solve his fussing. I hope these ideas help make car rides a little less stressful for your family and wish you well in finding a solution that helps your son be more content on drives.

Kind Regards,

Trudy At Clek

 

Dear Julie,

Our vehicle is from 2001 Mercury Villager and while we’d love a new van, we can’t really afford one at the moment. My parents got us a nice convertible car seat though and we’re ready to turn our 4 year old forward facing on her birthday but how do we use the top tether in such an older vehicle?

Gratefully yours,

Confused in New Mexico

 

Dear Confused in New Mexico,

First off, I’d like to commend you for keeping your daughter rear facing past the minimum recommendations! It is after all the safest way for children to travel. At Clek we are strong advocates of extended rear-facing. Our convertible seats, Foonf and Fllo, were designed to international best practices for extended rear-facing use, which is to accommodate children in a rear-facing installation until their 4th birthday.

In regards to your question about the use of top tethers in older vehicles, I’m going to answer yours specifically, and then provide some general information for other readers that might have a similar situation. I’m happy to inform you that your 2001 Mercury Villager is already equipped with not only top tethers, but lower anchors as well. Location of these is dependent on what type of seating layout you have in your Villager. Locate your vehicle Owner’s Manual and read the section that discusses installing child restraints. In that section you should find mentioned where the top tethers and lower anchors are located in your vehicle. If ever you find that you need help with something pertaining to using your car seat, first reach out to your car seat manufacturer. Most will be able to direct you over the phone, or help locate a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) near you for some in person assistance. You can also locate one online by visiting cert.safekids.org.

Now I’m going to give a little background on top tethers and lower anchors. LATCH (which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) became a standard for 2003 or newer model year vehicles. Vehicles since that date are required to have at least two seating locations with LATCH. There are also some 2001 and 2002 model year vehicles that included LATCH prior to it being mandated. Those vehicles will have this information in their Owner’s Manual.

Top tethers themselves, however, can be found in vehicles dating back to model year 2000. Approximately 80% of model year 2000 vehicles came with tether anchors already installed. Why is this important? Top tethers help to minimize the forward motion of a car seat in a collision. So what happens if your vehicle doesn’t have top tethers? Many vehicle manufacturers can provide consumers with a tether anchor kit to be able to retrofit your vehicle with a tether anchor. Some vehicle dealerships will even install the kit for you free of charge.

The Owners Manual for both your vehicle as well as your car seat contains a wealth of information and is always my first recommendation for clients when they have a question. And when questions still go unanswered, Customer Service is standing by to lend a helping hand.

Safe Travels,

Julie At Clek

 

If you have questions about car seat safety, feel free to ask on the clek Facebook page, send them a tweet, or email your question to be included next time to [email protected]

 

Trudy SlaghtTrudy Slaght, Clek CPST, CRST-IT As Clek’s Child Passenger Safety Advocate, a previous board member of the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada, and a CRST Instructor from Edmonton, Alberta, Trudy Slaght pretty much breathes, eats, and lives child passenger safety. With her brain crammed full of valuable tips and advice, Trudy attends and speaks at various industry conferences across North America and provides everything from simple helpful guidance to advanced technical support for parents, caregivers, and even fellow technicians.
A mom of two, Trudy has been involved in the field for over 7 years, spending lots of time thinking about, practicing, and preaching the best methods to keep our little ones safe for the ride. And, even with all this on her plate, Trudy still somehow has the passion and energy to be a contributing author to Canada’s National Child Passenger Technician Training curriculum.
Julie_LR copyJulie McCuen, Clek CPST Since becoming a Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2012, Clek CPST Julie McCuen has willingly sacrificed her digits and limbs all in the name of keeping kids safe. After feeling inexplicably drawn to learning about weight limits, velocity factors, and Rigid LATCH connectors, Julie enthusiastically entered the wonderful world of child passenger safety to help families install and use their car seats properly every single time.
Despite a few bruises and broken nails, Julie’s fervent curiosity and commitment to safety hasn’t waned one bit. She’s now working towards becoming a CPST Instructor so she can pass along her valuable knowledge and insights to others who are equally eager to learn. When not working with Clek, Julie spends her time raising her three beautifully unruly children who are 9, 6, and 4 with her husband of 10 years.
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What’s green and white and safe all over? Clek Foonf Review

 Full disclosure: Clek is an active TLB sponsor at the time of writing this review.  I do not receive any financial compensation for any of my reviews, the product is all I receive so I can review it.  The financial sponsorship of Clek for TLB has no bearing on my review and I will share my honest opinion of their product, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If, at any time, being open and honest with my readers does not work for a sponsor and they choose to withdraw their support of breastfeeding mothers through sponsoring The Leaky Boob, I would rather they move on anyway.  My readers can trust that this review is free of any manipulation or effort to preserve my relationship with Clek.  
Disclaimer: I am not a child passenger safety technician or any kind of car seat expert.  I’m simply a mom of 6 kids and I’ve used a lot of seats.  My opinion is simply that, my opinion and I can’t give you any kind of credentials that says you should listen to it.  I have been using the Clek Foonf for the past 3 months.

This review shares our experience with the Clek Foonf and our thoughts on the seat.  If you don’t have much time, you may want to skip down to the end for a summary.

 

I remember when we were expecting our eldest and we had to pick out a carseat.  I was 20 and The Piano Man was 22.  We walked into the big box store and looked at the display of seats that seemed ridiculously huge to hold such a small person.  It was overwhelming.  We read the features and didn’t understand what they meant.  Intimidated we went and asked for help from a store employee, an even young guy that we hoped would know more than we did.  He showed us the most popular seller, a bucket seat that was part of a travel system and it had a low price point.  Plus, we liked the color scheme.

And just like that, we picked out our seat. We figured all the seats were the same and we knew nothing about checking installation. In the more than 14 years and now 6 children we’ve been dealing with child safety seats since that day, we’ve learned a lot and make our decisions regarding seats in a much more thorough fashion now.  I now know lingo and recommendations, have talked with CPSTs, watched videos, and learned some of the different safety standards around the world.  I know what’s important for our family in a seat and it doesn’t matter what the most popular seat is and the color is just a bonus.

Still, selecting the right seat can be an overwhelming task. The most important thing I’ve learned about selecting a car seat?  Select the safest seat you can properly install and use according to your budget.  Having a seat with a high safety rating means nothing if you don’t install and use it properly.  I actually cringe about some of the seats we’ve used over the years.  Worse, I nearly cry when I think about how we installed and used some of them.  So grateful that in spite of our ignorance and poor seat usage our children are ok.  I am all too aware that if we had been in a serious accident I probably couldn’t say that.

important car seat rule

Now we know better so we can do better. Being aware and better educated on the issue of child passenger safety (by no means an expert!), I was intrigued when I learned of the new convertible seat coming from Clek, the Foonf.  Just as Sugarbaby was reaching the point where she was outgrowing her infant seat, the Foonf became available.  I had the chance to play with the seat at the ABC Kids Expo and liked what I saw.  Because I’m not an expert, I talked with CPST Jamie Grayson, The BabyGuy NYC and CPST Christie Haskell to hear their thoughts on the Foonf.  They explained how many of the safety features utilized technology haven’t been used in child passenger safety seats before and shared their own excitement about how this seat could greatly improve the industry overall.  Curious as to how well us normal, non-CPST parents could use the seat, we decided to give it a try.  There were so many features that we liked when we read it, it seemed worth giving it a go. foonf_safety_rear_facing Quick specs on the Clek Foonf:

clek Foonf info

clek foonf measurements and weight

When our seat arrived (a Christmas gift for Sugarbaby- she loved the box) I have to admit to being a little intimidated.  It seemed so… nice.  And high tech.  I wasn’t sure we could even figure it out properly.  So it sat for 2 weeks until we had a day with nothing on our schedules just so we could take plenty of time setting it up. Turns out we didn’t need all day. We watched Jamie’s video and the video on the clek site before we attempted our own install.  It was fairly simple and though we had some issue getting the rebound bar in place because it’s a tight fit (not a bad thing!) and The Piano Man had it right for about 10 minutes before realizing it.  Without a doubt it was the easiest seat we’ve installed that we felt the most secure about.  It was so stable so fast.  I have never felt so confident that we installed a seat correctly.  In fact, installing it and seeing how secure it is made me want to recheck the seats our 3 and 5 year old are currently in.  I have loved their seats (Diono Radian RXTs) though after playing with the Foonf I’m not quite as in love with them as I had been.  They are still great seats, it’s just the technology, features, and ease of use of the Foonf is just so much more advanced.  It’s kind of like watching the special effects of a movie that used to wow you but ten years later they look less impressive.

clek Foonf rear-facing seat belt install lock off clips

We had to use the seat belt install as our van (Nissan Quest 2001) doesn’t have the LATCH option.  The seat belt install was far more stable than we expected and so much easier than we’ve ever experienced.  Even The Piano Man’s larger hands had no issues.  The only problem we ran into with the rear-facing seat belt install?  We managed to miss that the internal lock offs for the seat belt were two pieces and were trying to secure it with only one.  Once we figured that out it was a snap, literally.  It was so easy to install we were actually nervous that we did something wrong.  So we called Jamie.  He talked us through it, looked at pictures I texted him, and he confirmed that it actually is that easy.

Note: I still recommend having your installation checked by a CPST in person just to be sure, at least your first time installing a new seat.

Sugarbaby has never been a fan of being in her car seat.  Even approaching the van with the door open would lead to her getting worked up.  As a busy family with 6 children involved in activities, never being in the car simply wasn’t an option.  So we’ve all endured her hate for trips in her seat.  The first time we used the Foonf, she predictably freaked out.  There was no way she was going to be happy about being in a car seat no matter how impressive a seat it is.  But gradually, over the next week or so, we began to see something new from her in the van with less crying, then less fussing, then no fussing, then happy babbling baby.  Complete 180, now she actually reaches for her seat when we approach the van.  I’m not sure it is simply that the seat is more comfortable, that she actually has more room in the seat, or that it has a higher base so she’s higher up, but it was a relief to no longer have a screaming baby in the van any time we have to go somewhere.  A happy baby in an unshakable seat = happy mommy.  If we were ever to be in a serious accident, while there’s no way to be 100% sure, I have little doubt that Sugarbaby would emerge unscathed, probably even happy.

clek Foonf action shot close

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

What I liked (or “The Good”):

I love, love, love that the Foonf is so easy to install.  The easier to install a seat is, the more children will safe.  The internal lock-off clips are amazing.  I can’t get over how well they secure the belt.  When friends ask to see the seat that’s the first thing I show them because they are just. that. amazing.  I also love the storage for the latch connectors since we don’t have the latch option and I hate having to deal with those things in the way with our other seats.  How secure that rebound bar makes the seat, incredibly stable, is a huge selling point as well.  AND this seat is 100% recyclable.  So when we’re finally done with it I love knowing it won’t be headed to a landfill.  But that’s another thing, we may not be done with it until she’s driving herself.  With the weight and height limits on this thing she may be taking it with her to college.  Ok, not really but it has the highest weight limit for rear-facing in the USA (slightly lower in Canada) and will easily keep her safely rear-facing until her 4th birthday.  Which is awesome.  It is likely that she will be in this seat forward facing for a good long time as well, I suspect until she’s about 6 years old.  Talk about your money’s worth.  This may not be the case for everyone, each child is so different it depends on how they grow but with a 9 year, yes you read that right, a NINE year expiration on all of clek’s seats the potential is there or to have the seat for another baby when the older one grows out of it.  Having a seat so long it could easily get gross but clek has thought of everything and the fabric cover is not only entirely removable, it is a GREENGUARD Select Certified Crypton Super Fabric which, according to their site, “provides permanent protection against stains, moisture, and odor-causing bacteria.”  When Sugarbaby puked a bit in her seat I simply wiped it up with a cloth and there was no sign it had ever been there.  Though you can see the Crumpled REACT Safety System, knowing it is there is a huge comfort.  We haven’t been able to afford to upgrade to a newer vehicle so we really appreciate this extra level of safety in Sugarbaby’s seat.  It’s trim size (it looks so much bigger than it is) makes it possible for 3 seats in a row in most vehicles.  Lastly, though I don’t pick a seat any more based on the color scheme and look of the seat, I do love how the foonf looks.  We selected the Dragonfly model and the green cover and white base look sharp and cheery.  One of my favorite features, silly those this may sound, are the magnets that keep the straps out of the way when putting baby in the seat.  No more fishing for them behind her!

But my favorite thing about this seat has little to do with the seat and everything to do with the fact that my daughter is finally happy in her seat.

There’s a lot of “The Good.”

Clek Foonf = happy baby!

Sugarbaby loves her Foonf! Which means I love it too.

What I didn’t like (or “The Bad, and The Ugly”)

I hate the price.  In fact I squirm a little telling people about the seat and I have to share the price.  I’m kind of embarrassed to have a seat that costs so much.  It seems so… extreme.  At $479 it’s a pricy piece of equipment.  Safety equipment.  However, this isn’t a seat that lasts for a few months and if your child sits in it rear-facing for 4 years it works out to $119.75 annually for their safety.  If they are in it for a year or more beyond that, it’s even less.  I decided to ask Jamie Grayson if the seat was worth such a price tag and here’s what he had to say:

I can’t tell you if the Foonf is “worth” the price.  That’s completely subjective because everyone operates on a different budget.  What I can say is that the quality of materials used, the safety technology involved, and the ease-of-installation with the rigid LATCH add up to an incredible seat.  Add to that fact that it rear-faces to 50lbs (USA only, Canada has a slightly lower weight limit on that), is incredibly narrow yet has a wide seat for kid’s comfort, and the fact that the upholstery is GreenGuard Certified, and the Foonf is something to be reckoned with.  When all is said and done, the above features combined might make people view the price differently.

I know that coughing up that cost up front can be challenging but we’ve personally decided that even though we won’t get as many years use out of it, we will be purchasing a second foonf to keep our petite 3 year old Smunchie rear-facing longer.  When it comes to baby gear, I’m all for simplicity and choose to select a few key items where we will spend the money for higher quality and do without.  For example, we currently do not have a stroller or a crib and would rather invest in a higher priced car seat.  The Foonf is the most expensive baby item we own and while I didn’t pay for this one we are saving to purchase another.  I absolutely believe it is worth it.  So I hate the price but I understand it and personally feel that the upfront cost is balanced out by the long term pay off for our family.

Also, Clek has created the Foonf in Drift for $399.99 –it is the non-Crypton fabric and does not have the magnets that I adore, but it is still a great value.  Those things are really just fluff anyway, it’s the safety features that are the real point.

I also don’t like but understand the weight.  Weighing in at 36 pounds rear-facing and 32 pounds forward-facing, you’re not going to want to lug this very far.  It’s heavy.  But when you look at all the safety features the thing is loaded with, it’s not a surprise.  Reinforced steal and magnesium underbelly, an Anti-Rebound Bar, energy-absorbing foam lining on the inside and outside of the frame, head protection and side-impact collision protection, high weight and height limits, LATCH storage, etc..  Features like these don’t come light.  All this is going to weigh something.  I agree with Jamie, if you’re going to be taking this through the airport, get one of those carts so you don’t hurt your back carrying 36 pounds of top notch safety technology.

This is a small thing but I felt I needed to be honest and share anyway.  The Foonf sits rather high and it makes me nervous sometimes that I can’t see out the window on that side very well.  However, that’s what we have side and rear view mirrors and my baby girl is so happy, perhaps because she can see out better thanks to being up higher.  This is a very minor point for me, really just an observation.

Overall:

As amazing as all the neat safety features are, I’m not sure I completely “get” how incredible they really are.  Instead, what I love about this seat is simply that it’s usable.  I feel confident that I can install it correctly and the ease of which that installation requires makes me want another one.  Knowing it has such cutting edge safety technology is comforting but I’m never cutting edge on anything so it’s only a minor selling point for me.  We’ll be buying another one because we’re confident that how we as parents use the seat is safer than any other seat we’ve owned.  For me that makes it worth every bit of that price tag and the hefty poundage.There is no doubt in my mind that a car seat is the most important purchase I am making for my child’s daily safety and I feel the Foonf is well deserving of the investment.  I am thrilled with this seat and am looking forward to getting one in Snowberry.  I can’t tell you if the Foonf is the right seat for your family but I’m confidently recommend those in the market for a new convertible seat consider it.

Smiling Sugarbaby in Foonf

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Clek giveaway and child passenger safety chat archive

Want information on child passenger safety?  What are other families doing and how are they making their decisions?  What do child passenger safety experts recommend?  Check out our chat on the wall with clek and Vera Fullaway, CPST for an interactive exchange about keeping our children safe in vehicles.  This chat was sponsored by clek.

 

Talking about booster seats

How to go about selecting a seat, what Leakies would do differently now

About buying used, using a damaged seat, and expiration on seats

Rear-facing and when to move forward

Infant seat, convertible, booster, etc. talking about different kinds of seats

clek’s oober and olli seats

cost associated with car seats and navigating the overwhelming world of child passenger safety

chest clips

Leaky questions

Talking to others about car seat safety

 

Clek is generously giving away 2 different seats, the oobr and the olli as part of our chat on The Leaky [email protected]@b Facebook page.

To be entered to win one of these seats, use the widget below.  This giveaway for is open to Canadian and USA entries only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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