Small but mighty!

The Evenflo NurtureMax rear-facing only (RFO) infant car seat is new to the Evenflo line-up and should not to be confused with a completely different seat, now retired, called the Nurture.

The NurtureMax wins the prize for being the most economical rear-facing only infant seat on the market, an impressive feat considering how many features it has!

Highlights include:

  • Economical price tag of $130 at Walmart, Babies R Us, AmazonBest Buy
  • For children who weigh between 4-22 lb (1.8 – 10 kg) and who are between 17-29″ (43-73 cm) tall
  • Swivel handle only needs one hand to operate
  • Harness adjusts from the front (versus a rear-adjust system on the now-retired Nurture)
  • Anti-rebound bar on the stay-in-car base
  • Fits teeny tiny babies well
  • Lightweight carrier
  • 4 crotch buckle positions 
  • 4 harness height positions (~4.5″, 6.5″, 8.75″, 11.25″)
  • 2 hip width positions
  • Expires 6 years from date of manufacture

Features and how-tos

The NurtureMax carry handle has a unique adjustment mechanism that makes it doable with one hand. Push down and then rotate.

While driving, make sure to have the handle in the up/carry position, or, rotated back to the head of the seat (although this makes it take up more space front-to-back).

The foot end of the NurtureMax carrier nestles under a little notch on the base. When docking the carrier you will need to lead with this edge to tuck it under the notch before locking the rest of the carrier onto the base.

Removal of the carrier from the base is like most other rear-facing only (RFO) car seats. Find the handle on the back/top of the carrier and squeeze. Due to the way the foot end of the carrier docks to the base (see above) a slight tilt up from the head end of the seat is needed to lift the carrier off the base. You will quickly get the hang of the slightly angled movement to dock and release the carrier, but if you are accustomed to the straight up-and-down movement of most other car seats this might feel a bit awkward the first few times.

When properly docked and locked onto the base these light grey side plungers will be visible. In fact, when you squeeze the handle to release the carrier, as above, you’ll see them move. 

In addition to doing a quick lifting up check to make sure the carrier is securely docked to the base, it’s also a good idea to glance at these windows and make sure the plungers are fully engaged. If something gets caught in there (your toddler’s goldfish crackers perhaps?) clean it out and try again.

When doing a baseless install – give it a try, it’s not hard and can be quite convenient at times! – you will need to lift the side of the cover up and out of the way to reveal the belt guides for the seat belt. If you never install the seat this way you’d never know there were belt guides there, but it’s simple to do if needed.

This kind of crotch buckle is called a ‘puzzle buckle’ – overlap the two pieces of crotch buckle tongues before plugging them into the crotch buckle itself.

Child fit

The NurtureMax is highly adjustable and is an ideal choice for preemies, or for caregivers with an unexpectedly small baby who doesn’t yet fit the car seat they purchased. 

With 4 harness height positions and a shell height that is on par with other comparable rear-facing only car seats, it can be expected that the NurtureMax will be outgrown around the weight limit of 22 lb (10 kg) or 29″ (73 cm) – which is around 11-12 months for babies of average height and weight.

The NurtureMax is a super option for preemies – it is inexpensive, and it adjusts down very small for a safe fit for the tiniest riders.

This doll is one of our standard test dolls and is approximately the size of a 7lb newborn. The NurtureMax would easily fit a smaller baby and adjusts at the shoulder, the hips, and the crotch.

The option to shorten the crotch buckle is a really nice feature to have. 

We don’t want to see an awkward gap like on the left in this photo; the harness isn’t adjusted properly like this, and baby could slouch or slump down into that space, potentially causing breathing issues if their airway is compromised.

Clear instructions for crotch buckle adjustment are on pages 39-41 in the NurtureMax manual.

Installation tips and vehicle fit

Unique among rear-facing only car seats at this price point, the NurtureMax base comes with an anti-rebound bar (ARB). That’s the vertical plastic piece that compresses against the vehicle upholstery and prevents excessive rebound towards the rear of the vehicle after a crash. While all rear-facing car seats in Canada must have some mechanism of rebound management (a bar like this one, a structural component like integrated cup holders that serve this purpose, a rear-facing tether, a carry handle on an RFO seat in a forward or up position, something else…) the ARB on this seat is integrated into the base, not removable, and requires no active steps to use correctly, all of which mean it’s properly in position at all times.

Find the UAS hooks stored on the underside of the base.

If you aren’t using them to install make sure to hook them here. This keeps them out of the way, and prevents damage to the hooks or other vehicle occupants.

Watch this short video for tips on how to attach and detach this type of J-hook UAS connector. 

Not just for this seat – here’s a body position we like to teach! Use your in-car knee to push the base BACK while using your hand to also push DOWN. Tighten the UAS strap or seat belt with your other hand.

We also like to get right into the car facing the rear, and use both knees to push back, but that’s not always doable for all people in all vehicles. We like options. 

This is what a lap/shoulder seat belt installation looks like.

Make sure that both pieces of seat belt webbing are tucked under the little plastic notches. They will keep the belt from slipping out of position.

If you find that the base is tilting you may use a locking clip to install the seat (find instructions in the manual or check out this video).

If you are installing the NurtureMax in an outboard position (on one of the sides) make sure to leave 1.5″ of space between the car seat and the vehicle seat in front of it. This will ensure adequate space for the car seat to move as designed in a crash.

If you are installing the car seat in the middle this does not apply unless there is also a vehicle seat there (in a 3-row vehicle, for example).

This is in a 2012 Honda Odyssey captain’s seat – tons of room.

When you install the NurtureMax base, whether it’s with UAS or the seat belt, make sure the recline line is level to the ground. Eyeballing this is sufficient, and it’s best to do when you are parked on flat ground. 

Properly levelling the car seat is important. We didn’t find it necessary in any of our test vehicles, but if necessary add a tightly rolled towel under the foot end of the base to make it more reclined, or push DOWN at that same spot when installing to make it more upright. This post is an oldie but a goodie, and explains all of that in detail.

Final thoughts

The Evenflo NurtureMax is an inexpensive seat that will fit small babies very well. It is straightforward to install, and has a lot of adjustability and features not typically found on less-expensive seats.

It’s not the most compact rear-facing only car seat out there, nor will it last the longest – but it’s not trying to be. It will fit reliably in most vehicles, tends to fit well in the middle of small vehicles, and in especially small cars there is always the option to install baseless. It’s a well-thought out value seat that is easy to use.

It might be the perfect seat for you if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a seat you won’t use for long, or if you unexpectedly have a small baby and need something to safely transport them while they grow into another seat. Despite the low price tag you will be quite pleased with the ease-of-use, light weight, and adjustability of this little gem.

Thank you to Evenflo for providing the seat used in this review – as always, comments are our own.

Evenflo recently released a brand new booster seat to the Canadian market. After Evenflo announced the retirement of the much loved Big Kid AMP Booster last year, we have been eager to try its replacement, the GoTime Sport! So far, the kids we’ve had ride in this booster have given it two big thumbs up!

GoTime Sport Limits:

  • 40 – 120 lb (18 – 54.4 kg) in high back booster mode and backless booster mode
  • 44 – 57” (112 – 145 cm) in high back booster mode and backless booster mode
  • At least four years old**

**It is worth noting that only the tallest of four year olds will meet the height minimum of 44?, as 50th percentile kids don’t reach that height until age 5.5 — an excellent age to start thinking about boostering. Most kids don’t have the impulse control or maturity to properly and safely use a booster seat until 5.5-6 years old. Some might be ready sooner, and others not until later. It’s important not to rush this step.

GoTime Sport Important Info:

  • Expires six years from date of manufacture
  • Does not require a vehicle head restraint behind it
  • Highest belt guide position is 19”
  • Shoulder belt clip for use in backless booster mode
  • Machine washable and dry-able
  • MSRP $79.99

GoTime Sport Measurements:

  • Tallest shoulder belt guide position: 19”
  • Lowest shoulder belt guide position: 14”
  • Widest point (at cupholders and side wings): 19.25”
  • Width at the back (arm rest to arm rest): 14”
  • Internal width at shoulders: 12.5”
  • Internal width at hips: 11”
  • Depth of seat pan as high back booster: 13.75”
  • Depth of seat pan as backless booster: 15”


The Evenflo GoTime Sport ships in a relatively small box for a high back booster seat, much to my surprise! This is because the GoTime arrives disassembled. Assembly instructions can be found in the manual and additional assembly instructions are included on the “Troubleshooting Your GoTime Booster Assembly” supplement found in the box with the booster. Assembly is an 8 step process for the Canadian version of the GoTime Sport. Set aside a few minutes to read over the instructions in the manual and the additional assembly supplement carefully before getting started.

Especially important is not to miss the step for installing the booster inserts on the back of the GoTime. The booster inserts are mandatory and must be installed before using the GoTime booster in high back booster mode. It may be easy for parents and caregivers to miss this step as it comes after the last step of checking your work in the manual. Do continue reading on to the next page where the instructions for installing the booster inserts are outlined.

Booster inserts – cheekily nicknamed “bat wings” amongst techs getting to know this seat – line up roughly with a child’s shoulder blades, but are attached on the outside back of the seat.

Using the GoTime Sport

When used in high back booster mode, the head rest of the GoTime is easily adjusted. Simply squeeze the grey handle at the top of the head rest and pull up or push down until the shoulder belt guides are at or just above the child’s shoulders. With the GoTime, there’s no need to reach in behind the seat as the adjustment handle is accessible from the front of the head rest. The GoTime has seven headrest positions and the highest shoulder belt guide position is approximately 19”.

When your child has outgrown the shoulder belt guide height in high back booster mode, you can remove the back of the GoTime and continue using it as a backless booster. In backless booster mode, the GoTime has the same height and weight limits as it does in high back booster mode (44 to 57” or 40 to 120 lb). The GoTime comes with a shoulder belt clip for use in backless booster mode. This clip will help position the shoulder portion of the seatbelt properly over the child’s shoulder. It should be used if the shoulder belt fit is not optimal without it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the cup holders on the GoTime. I know for some kids, cup holders can be the deciding factor in choosing their favourite seat. The GoTime has two cup holders that are part of the seat shell. That means they are not removable for washing. They are smooth on the inside though which makes wiping them out easy enough.

Fit to Vehicle

We tried the Evenflo GoTime Sport in a 2017 Nissan Versa Note, 2019 BMW X4, 2016 BMW X5, 2014 Honda Odyssey, 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan with Stow & Go, 2014 Honda CRV, 2015 Toyota Sienna, and 2022 Tesla Model 3.

As the Evenflo GoTime Sport is quite a bit wider than its predecessor, it’s unlikely to be a top pick for tight seating situations (like fitting two seats side by side or fitting three across). That being said, it is narrower in the back than at the front which may allow it to fit well in sport-style vehicle seats that might have more pronounced side bolsters in the outboard seats.

The Booster Inserts (aka bat wings) on the GoTime will keep this booster sitting more upright in some vehicles. In vehicles with seats that are naturally more reclined, the GoTime only seemed a little more upright than other boosters we’ve tried. In vehicles with relatively upright vehicle seats, it was definitely noticeable that the booster was sitting quite upright. An added bonus of these booster inserts is that in vehicles with fixed or forward leaning head restraints, it’s unlikely those vehicle head restraints will make contact with the GoTime or push it forward at all. That’s great news for those with forward leaning head restraints that must remain in place.

If you have a middle vehicle seat with an arm rest or cup holder that pulls down from the seat back, you may find that the booster inserts of the GoTime sink into the seams/edges of that stored arm rest/cup holder assembly in the vehicle seat back. I found this to be the case in a 2017 Nissan Versa Note where the width of the booster inserts just happened to perfectly match the width of the arm rest/cup holder pull down when it was stored in the seat back. The GoTime booster inserts did sink into the seat back in this vehicle, but after sending photos to Evenflo, this was given the okay. This was a non-issue in the other vehicles I tried the GoTime in as the booster inserts didn’t line up perfectly with those middle seat arm rests/cup holders in the other vehicles.

We were pleased to see that the GoTime Sport fit so nicely in the 2022 Tesla Model 3. It has been challenging to find booster seats that work well in this vehicle as it has fixed forward leaning head rests, pronounced side bolsters, and recessed fixed buckle stalks. The narrow back of the GoTime Sport base meant it did not sit on top of the buckle and it left lots of room for easy buckling. The Booster Inserts (aka bat wings) kept the GoTime well in front of the vehicle head rest so there was no interference.

The only difficulty we experienced with the GoTime in any of these vehicles was in the third row outboard seats of the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan – known for its notoriously challenging seat belt geometry. In the outboard positions (driver side and passenger side), belt retraction was poor. That means that when the child leans forward slowly (nose to knees) and then sits back upright quickly, the shoulder portion of the seatbelt lagged behind the child and remained loose. Good belt retraction is a key component of proper booster fit, and we want to see that shoulder belt stay with the child’s torso and remain snug against their body when they sit back upright. For this reason, we would not recommend using the Evenflo GoTime Sport in the 3rd row outboard seats of this generation Dodge Grand Caravan, or in any other vehicle seating position where retraction is poor.

As with any new car seat or booster seat you intend to purchase for your children and your vehicle, we recommend trying it out before buying.

GoTime Sport High Back Booster

We recommend that children remain in their high back booster until they outgrow it. Belt fit in a booster, whether that’s a high back or a backless, is key to booster fit. In our experience, belt fit is best in a high back booster. Regardless of whether your child is riding in a high back booster or a backless booster, proper belt fit is the same: the lap belt should be low across the thighs and hips, and the shoulder belt needs to make contact with the chest, cross the collarbone, and sit centred on the shoulder.

The advantage to a high back booster seat, especially for new booster riders, is that the back of the booster provides a physical reminder to the child to sit upright for the whole ride, every ride. The headwings also help prevent a child who has fallen asleep from slumping or leaning out of position. If you have a child who still sleeps in the car, teach them to look up at the ceiling of the vehicle when they feel sleepy. This will help ensure they remain upright in their high back booster seat even if they fall asleep. The headwings and sidewings of the GoTime Sport Booster are nice and deep, providing great support to keep a child properly positioned and minimizing the likelihood a child can lean side to side out of position.

Our GoTime Sport testers are 6 years old, 46lb, and 48″; 7 years old, 47lb, and 47″; 8 years old, 52lb, and 50″; and 10 years old, 62lb, and 53″. (Special thanks to Lindsay of Car Seat Cubs for sharing her 6 year old GoTime tester with us.) All four of our testers can still use the GoTime Sport in high back booster mode. The 10 year old needs the headrest in the highest of the 7 positions, but the 6 and 7 year olds have lots of room to grow.

Despite their depth, none of our testers found the headwings to feel confining. They found the cover to be comfortable, even for longer drives, and I’d have to agree. The padding does feel soft and squishy and I can’t press down and easily feel the hard shell of the seat through the seat pad.

Buckling up the GoTime is really simple. The armrests are surprisingly short making the routing for the seatbelt quite open. This made it easier for our 7 year old tester to buckle himself into the seat (something he still needs help with in other boosters). There’s an indentation under the armrests that the seatbelt nestles into, ensuring it’s not going anywhere during the drive.

The GoTime Sport’s seat pan in high back booster mode has a nice depth. It’s not so deep that the 7 year old’s knees can’t bend nicely over the edge of the booster, but it’s not so shallow that the 10 year old’s thighs feel unsupported. It’s a great balance.

Belt fit at the shoulder was excellent for our testers. Our 7 year old tester has narrower shoulders, and finding a booster that positions the shoulder belt centred on his shoulder has been a bit of a challenge. No problems here with the GoTime. Belt retraction is also excellent in high back booster mode for both children in the majority of the vehicles we tried (see my note above regarding the 3rd row outboard seats of the Dodge Grand Caravan).

Although the GoTime Sport does look to be more upright in high back booster mode than other boosters, none of our testers complained about this. The overall comfort of the seat certainly seemed to outweigh the more upright seating position.

GoTime Sport Backless Booster

I quite like the Evenflo GoTime Sport in backless booster mode, and our 10 year old tester does too. As a backless booster, the GoTime is comfortable and supportive. The seat pan is fairly deep at 15”, offering plenty of support for a child’s thighs.

Our 10 year old tester still has 4” to grow before he’s outgrown the height limit of the GoTime in backless booster mode. With a maximum height limit of 57” (or 4’9”) the GoTime should get many kids to the height where they can ride safely using the adult seat belt without a booster. In general, kids need a booster seat until they are at least 4’9” and they pass the 5-step test for seat belt readiness. You should expect your child to need a booster of some kind until they are between 10 and 12 years old. At 53” tall, our 10 year old tester has some time before he’ll be ready to ride without a booster seat. Some kids will need a booster seat beyond 57” before they can safely 5-step in their vehicle, so it would be nice if the GoTime had a higher standing height limit than 57”. That being said, boosters with a higher standing height limit are few and far between.

Our 10 year old tester does not need to use the shoulder belt clip with the GoTime in backless booster mode. Belt fit across the shoulder is good without that clip. Our 7 year old tester, on the other hand, does need that shoulder belt clip. Our 7 year old tester is a couple years away from riding in a backless booster on a regular basis, but for testing purposes we tried him in the GoTime in backless mode. Belt fit is great with the shoulder belt clip for him, and he found the seat comfortable.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Evenflo GoTime Sport is a great replacement for the Evenflo Big Kid AMP. Its open belt path makes routing and buckling the seatbelt a breeze, even for new booster riders. The cover feels plush and comfy and even long drives garnered no complaints about comfort from our testers. The seven head rest positions provide a fit that grows with your child, allowing the seat to be used in high back booster mode for a good long time. Though we would prefer to see a top height for the shoulder belt guide that’s higher than 19” for this high back booster, it was more than sufficient for our testers. Our own 10 year old tester has not yet outgrown the back of the GoTime Sport, though he has long legs and a slightly shorter than average torso. The cup holders and sidewings of the GoTime Sport are fairly wide at 19.25” making this a booster that’s less likely to fit side by side with another seat or three across. With that limitation in mind, we still think the GoTime Sport booster is a great choice. The Evenflo GoTime Sport retails for $79.99 which makes it a nice price point for a long lasting booster that fits well in most vehicles.

Also available is the Evenflo GoTime LX. The difference between the Sport and the LX, according to Evenflo is minimal. “The use, child fit and key features are consistent between the two. The big differences are primarily aesthetics of hard goods and soft goods (which is easier to see when the product is side-by-side.”

Your chance to win one!

Thank you to Evenflo for providing the GoTime Sport used in this review. All comments are our own.

Also thank you to Evenflo for offering one up to our readers! Enter for your chance to win an Evenflo GoTime LX in Chardon Black fashion. Use the widget below to enter.


About the author:

Originally from Vancouver, Stefanie spent twelve years in Calgary and moved back to BC with her family in 2018. A CPST since 2017, she now lives in Victoria with her cat, husband, and two boys (aged 10 and 7). Stefanie is available for in-person car seat checks in Victoria. You can book with her right here.

Updated July 2023 with details about the Evenflo Revolve Extend and Evenflo Revolve Slim; this review originally was focused only on the original Revolve, specifically the GOLD edition.

I had the chance to use the Revolve 360 Rotational All-in-One car seat for a few weeks when I had a friend and her young child visit…and the short version of this review is that I love it.

I started drafting this review in my head before I actually sat down to write it, and distracted myself with witty titles, usually involving songs with ‘spin, revolve, or around’ in them, and of course that sent me down the rabbit hole and I listened to all sorts of songs I didn’t know existed. And do you see that I settled on the really exciting “Evenflo Revolve 360?” Sigh. Anyway…

I also noticed recently that Walmart had the Revolve on sale for $360 and I wondered if that was someone in marketing or sales being really crafty. Good for them (and a smoking deal too). So many interesting ways to put a clever spin on this seat (haha, see what I did there?), but it doesn’t need slick marketing to convince me. It’s well-designed, it’s nice to use, and it offers some super features. Of course it has limitations, as do all seats, but it’s a really interesting choice and a game changer when accessibility is needed.

This review features the Evenflo Revolve 360 GOLD but the standard version has many of the same features and I will point out where the GOLD differs. Updated July 2023: also watch for updates for where the Revolve Extend and Revolve Slim differ.

Who will fit in this seat?

Original RevolveRevolve ExtendRevolve Slim
Weight limits4 - 40 lb rear facing
22 - 65 lb forward facing
40 - 120 lb booster
4 - 50 lb rear facing
22 - 65 lb forward facing
40 - 120 lb booster
4 - 50 lb rear facing
22 - 65 lb forward facing
Height limits17 - 40" rear facing
28 - 49" forward facing
44 - 57" booster
17 - 48" rear facing
28 - 49" forward facing
44 - 57" booster
17 - 48" rear facing
28 - 49" forward facing
Top harness height19"19"19"
Age requirementsage 2 - forward facing
age 4 - booster
age 2 - forward facing
age 4 - booster
age 2 - forward facing

As always we appreciate Evenflo’s minimum age limits and promotion of best practice. Don’t rush through the stages!

Highlights and features:

  • It rotates! That’s the game changer here. A full 360° at times.
  • SensorSafe alert system (GOLD), more on that later
  • Tether is integrated to the base so it’s potentially a one and done installation – or easily swapped between differently-sized users (grandkids, perhaps – or a daycare, or family support agency)
  • Hook-style UAS connectors (standard), premium UAS connectors (GOLD) 
  • Plush, removable, machine-washable padding
  • Harness heights between ~7” and ~19”
  • Booster seat shoulder belt guide max height ~19.5”
  • Width at widest point: Original & Extend 19.8″, Slim 16.7″ 
  • Dual dishwasher-safe cup holders 
  • Range of recline angles (some variations between models, see details below)
  • Easy-to-use LockStrong seat belt tensioner (not a lock-off…more on that later)
  • Multiple crotch buckle positions
  • No-rethread harness
  • Tidy storage for all the things (UAS connectors, tether, harness)
  • 10 year expiry
  • MSRP: $549.99 base price to $749.99 depending on model and trim level
  • Available at major retailers
  • Did we mention it rotates?

Fit to vehicle

Evenflo Revolve 360 installed in a vehicle with the door open, and rotated to load
White hand with red and pink sleeve cuff showing grabs a handle labeled lift to rotate

So the rotational feature first. We know that’s what draws your attention as it certainly did ours. It’s visually interesting and I had several people approach me in parking lots while I was loading or unloading to ask me what it was, and I was happy to share my thoughts. 

The rotation is easy to use. You can rotate a full circle in one of the recline settings, but you don’t need to so don’t worry about the fact that you can’t in all three rear-facing recline settings. You are really only going from side-loading to rear-facing travel, and back again. If you do try to force it all the way around when it is not on the setting where that’s possible you might jam it. Evenflo has instructions for how to unjam it, but best to avoid that situation. You must never, ever drive with the child side-facing, that is not a travel mode and is very unsafe, and if you are driving without a child in the car with you make sure to rotate it into a stable, locked position even when empty.

You might be able to rotate it one-handed, or may need a second hand to guide the turn. It will depend on your dexterity and the weight of your child and how cooperative they are. It’s a smooth motion but toddlers and preschoolers with boots on will need to lift their feet a bit to avoid bumping up against the base. As kids get heavier the rotation will require more effort to manage.

Young white child with brown hair wearing black pyjamas is buckled into a car seat

I drive a Honda Odyssey, which means I have plenty of roof clearance, and a sliding door. This makes for great access to my 2nd row and if you have been resisting a van let me tell you, I’m never going back. Team Loser Cruiser all the way. I really enjoyed the access and ease of loading with the Revolve 360 and my van. I could use the floorboard as a staging area to remove my little buddy’s coat (practice safe winterwear people, even in Winnipeg when it’s -30℃, which was a lot of days last winter), lift him straight up into the seat, get him buckled, remove boots, coat back on like a blanket, and then rotate into the locked travel position. I am over 40 and getting more decrepit by the day, so my out-of-practice toddler-wrangling self appreciated not having to hoist and twist sideways to load a toddler. 

Generally, the Revolve 360 is better-suited to vehicles that have more front-to-back space, but I also tried it with my Honda Civic, and it was highly functional there too with my 5’8” self sitting comfortably in front of it. 

You may find the rotating feature handy if you have children riding in the 3rd row. Larger vehicles may have enough room for kids to walk past a rotated Revolve 360 installed in the second row, to access the 3rd row. 

The Revolve 360 is likely not a good choice in super compact vehicles but it’s worth a try if you really want to make it work. Yes, you could even install it in the middle (where rear-facing seats tend to have more front-to-back space to work with) but by doing so you’d really lose the functionality of the rotation because you’d be leaning into the middle seat to load. 

The Revolve 360 is not going to have room to rotate if installed directly next to another car seat, so if you are looking at a 3-across the Revolve is not a good choice. The possible exception to this is if you go with the Revolve Slim (it is among the very narrowest of seats on the market at only 16.7″ wide at the widest point!), and are rotating it next to an infant base. This is so dependent on the specific vehicle and seat combinations that it’s worth a try if you’re desperate to not replace your car.

Evenflo Revolve installed rear facing in a Civic; head rest is fully extended
Evenflo Revolve installed rear facing in an Acura MDX with black interior


This seat has caught the attention of those who require more accessibility than a traditional car seat tends to offer. If you or another caregiver have any difficulty lifting, the ability to load straight-on will be a great feature for you. 

If you just want the convenience of that – that is also a valid reason to buy one!

Further, if the child you are transporting needs help to get into their seat, and their weight or mobility makes that a challenge for you, consider this seat, especially if you drive a vehicle with lower roof clearance. The rear-facing weight limit of 40 lb on the original Revolve won’t be a long-term solution for kids who need to ride rear facing beyond that time, but it’s something to consider if it makes loading and unloading easier. Note that the Extend’s rear-facing weight limit of 50 lb does, ahem, extend this time frame somewhat, but the shell height and child fit are essentially the same – so this added weight limit is only useful for shorter, heavier kids. Slight variations may occur with different trim levels that have certain padding options.

Rear-facing recline:

The Evenflo Revolve 360 has a weight-based rear-facing recline range, and three mechanical recline positions that you set with a handle. You should have no difficulty attaining the required recline position unless your vehicle seat is extremely sloped or extremely flat. If that describes your vehicle then please please try before you buy, and make sure you can use the seat throughout the entire weight range and not just for the size your child currently is.

Note: the original Revolve and the Revolve Extend require the seat to be more upright at higher weights. The Revolve Slim allows the seat to be more upright, but does not require it. 

Super smart base design:

When you install a lot of car seats like I do you quickly notice if a feature is awesome, or not so much. The base on the Revolve 360 is definitely in camp awesome. This base is not like the base on an infant seat:, although the seating area part of the Revolve does come off (it’s called the shell in the manual) they can’t be used separately. When the shell comes off it looks like a weeble and must be laid gently on its side. I do worry a bit – possibly unfounded – that the rotating mechanism could get gritty or gunked up with sand, food crumbs, etc., so if it were me I’d take dirty boots off, and I’d vacuum regularly (haha, yeah, vacuuming regularly is not a thing I do in my car, to my spouse’s disgust. But you definitely should). 

Evenflo’s designers knocked this one out of the park, and here’s why:

  • It’s easy to install using either the seat belt or UAS (not both).
    • Note: when installing with the seat belt make sure the UAS connectors are stored, and also fully loosened so a snug strap doesn’t interfere with the seat belt and LockStrong mechanism. 
    • Note: seat belt ‘buttons’ or ‘loops’ (features to prevent the latch plate from sliding down to the floor) can be difficult to manoeuvre around. And unfortunately you won’t know it’s a problem until you see exactly where it hits the LockStrong mechanism. Another reason to try before you buy.
  • The storage locations for the UAS connectors are intuitively located and nicely integrated into the base. 
  • The LockStrong belt-tensioning arm makes getting a tight seat belt installation easy by using the mechanical advantage of the lever. It’s not a lock-off though, so don’t forget to switch the seat belt to locking mode or using the locking latch plate on your seat belt.
  • Excellent red/green markings let you know if the arm is locked or not (this theme repeats elsewhere on the seat). 
  • The tether for the seat is part of the base, and is required in both rear- and forward-facing modes
    • That means you must install it only in a seating position in your vehicle where there is a tether anchor, even when rear facing. If you aren’t sure, check your vehicle manual for this information.
    • That means that you can rotate the seat between rear- and forward-facing modes without uninstalling anything. It literally takes 5 seconds to swap between modes, which is an excellent feature for someone who transports kids of different ages and stages, such as daycare providers, grandparents, or family support workers.

Comfort features:

If you are a first-time parent and are reading up on what seat to get your little one…spoiler alert. Kids are messy. Even if they never eat in the car (which I suppose is possible, although I was never successful!) they shed kid detritus constantly. Messy hands, messy footwear, crumbs, sand, you get the idea. Of course you can limit the damage with a brand-approved under-seat mat, or a towel to protect the upholstery, but that’s just harm reduction really. There will still be mess. See my note above about some concern about grit getting into the rotation mechanism.

Like most (all?) Evenflo seats the soft goods (cover, pillows, padding, harness covers, etc) can be removed and machine washed. Always check for specific cleaning instructions in your car seat manual, usually near the end.

Cup holders are dishwasher safe. You will appreciate this fact when you realize the flowers or the really cool dead bug your child found at the park were left in the car, along with a handful of goldfish and the granola bar they took a bite of, didn’t like, and spit out. Yummy.

Harness covers:

Kids who don’t like things at their neck may not like the feel of the harness strap pads of the original Revolve – and they will seem really large on a small baby. The harness covers though are entirely optional and easily removed.

Original: The harness has two separate components at the neck area. The harness strap pads are permanently attached to the car seat and help to position the harness correctly on the child’s body. The harness covers are for comfort, and may be removed. It may take a bit of practice to get used to adjusting and manipulating the two different pieces but it gets easier the more you do it. 

Extend & Slim: No integrated harness strap pads, and the harness pads are optional and removable.

Check out Evenflo on YouTube for videos of the Revolve 360 in action.

Quick Clean cover (on some models):

Some Revolve models (the Extend is shown here) have a Quick Clean cover that makes it easier to remove and wash only the part of the cover that is dirty. Seats with this feature will have this orange tag readily visible on the front top corners of the seat.

Fit to child:

My kids are big now, so thank you to Canadian CPSTs who provided photos of their kids in this seat.

Always make sure a car seat is as reclined as allowed for newborns – this protects their airway. Pay careful attention to instructions for how to position the body pad for a small baby. When fully reclined the Revolve 360 takes up a fair bit of front-to-back space, so make sure your vehicle can accommodate it before intending to use it from birth. 

Some users found it a bit tricky to centre their floppy newborn on the slightly side-angled seat when loading. Older kids experienced this less, but take the time to position your child before buckling.

Rear facing:

The Revolve seats will fit most kids who are between 4-40 lb and 17-40” tall (original), and the additional height and weight of the Extend and Slim (4 – 50 lb and up to 48″ tall) will provide more use for kids who are heavier for their age, or who carry more of their height in their legs. The shell heights are comparable across all versions so all versions of this seat are the shortest lasting for long-torsoed kids, or for those who have big heads and/or long necks. And here’s why (this applies to any rear-facing seat with a no-rethread harness): when rear facing, the harness is positioned at or below the child’s shoulders AND there must be car seat head rest or shell (varies by model) above the head, usually at least 1″. This is to keep the child’s head contained and protected in a crash. With this type of seat, when you raise the head rest to get more coverage, you also raise the harness height…potentially to above the child’s shoulders. If you are not sure how your child is fitting you should absolutely reach out to Evenflo for support.  

The harness has ample length for most kids in that range, and there is lots of legroom. 

Young white child is buckled rear-facing in a car seat; he is wearing a grey toque, black sweater, blue pants, and red boots. He is holding one finger up near his face

Forward facing:

This seat has one recline position when forward facing, and it is fairly upright. The harness height is very tall – among the tallest of available Canadian seats! – but the interior space at the shoulders, and crotch buckle length may get uncomfortable for kids at the higher end of the weight limit.

Booster seat mode:

While the original and Extend versions of this seat do convert to a booster (quite easily, with handy storage for the harness so you don’t lose any parts) in most cases the booster mode will be outgrown shortly after the harness mode is outgrown (by height). It would be a very petite 10yo who fits in the Revolve 360 as a booster seat, and while most kids of that age do still require a booster seat for the adult seat belt to properly (and safely!) fit them, they also tend to have strong opinions about what they ride in and what is cool (or not). Consider this a back-up mode should it ever be needed, but it is rare for families to use it beyond the forward-facing stage. This is true for any 3-in-1/all-in-one seat: nice to have, great if it’s needed, but not a daily rider.

Neither of the experienced booster riders below could buckle themselves due to how high the Revolve 360 sit up off the vehicle seat, however, the belt fit was excellent on both of them. They have nearly outgrown it though, by shoulder height. 


Available on a range of Evenflo seats, SensorSafe is an added safety feature intended to reduce the incidence of hot car deaths (hyperthermia) and other in-vehicle safety concerns. It works with a unique bluetooth-enabled chest clip, a mobile app, and on some products (including this review seat) a piece that Evenlfo calls a dongle that plugs into the OBD port on your vehicle. If you’ve ever had an emissions test or run your own diagnostic test on an error code on your vehicle, that’s what you plugged into. It’s on the underside of your steering wheel area, near the driver’s knees, and requires no special skills to install.

From Evenflo: “SensorSafe…monitors the well-being of your child through a smart chest clip that syncs up with your smartphone via Bluetooth (and on some older versions, a vehicle dongle that plugs into your OBD port). Breathe easier knowing that the SensorSafe mobile app will send you a notification in real-time if:

  • Your child unbuckles the chest clip while the car is in motion
  • The back seat has become too hot or too cold (above 35°C or below 7°C)
  • Your child has been seated for too long (more than 2 hours)
  • You’ve accidentally left your child buckled in the car

Read all of the SensorSafe FAQs here.

SensorSafe is not available on all versions of the Revolve. How do you know? Look for the white chest clip, shown here on the Evenflo Revolve Slim.

I downloaded the app and installed the dongle and got myself set up to use SensorSafe. It was very straightforward, with plenty of help text and how-tos integrated into the setup (see screenshots above). Note: the dongle version has been phased out and all current seats are set up to communicate directly with your smart phone via Bluetooth.

My little buddy (age 2.5) was delighted to discover that the system sings, and the notifications to the app were immediate. I played around with some of the settings, and I liked that I could have multiple car seats loaded into one app. This would be handy if I had multiple kids with seats in multiple vehicles. 

I also really liked the safety aspect of setting up a cascade of emergency notifications to people I pre-selected should it have been necessary. This works a lot like a safe arrival program at school or daycare, where if the first person on the list doesn’t respond the rest get notified in order. And, since you have location services enabled on the app, your contact list will be notified in short order about exactly where you were when it pinged. My physical location is redacted for privacy on the screenshot here but the lat/long it reported was exactly where I was when I captured this, and I didn’t have real family members set up to test, but you get the idea.

So in theory it would go like this. You drove to work, and because it was not your usual routine, you forgot you were on daycare drop-off that day, so your brain took over and did what you usually do: parked the car, grabbed your bag, and walked into your building. As soon as you got out of range of the buckled chest clip the app would notify you on your phone. Let’s say you didn’t respond right away by clearing the notification – it was loud and you didn’t hear it and got distracted by the cute puppies in the lobby of your building…SensorSafe would then contact the people on your emergency list to tell them that there’s a child in the seat and GPS coordinates of where. If your contact tried to call or text you and you didn’t answer they could call 911 or other help and know exactly where you were parked. 

Once I walked away from my van to put my garbage cans back into the garage before driving away, and that was too far for the app’s settings; most people are going to want to choose a bigger buffer before getting notified. I also laughed at the temperature range. It was March in Manitoba but it was still well below freezing. Being constantly reminded that it was cold is a feature that did get a bit annoying. Thanks SensorSafe, I live in Winnipeg, I KNOW. I didn’t use it in hot weather to see how sensitive it was to temperature on the warm end of things. 

Originally designed to alert the user if the chest clip was buckled, and then not unbuckled after a drive (simulating leaving a child in a hot vehicle), SensorSafe has smartly evolved to do more than just note the chest clip situation. It will also:

  • Notify if you walk too far away from the vehicle and it senses there is still a child in the seat (via the buckled chest clip)…this assumes your phone is with you. It’s communicating with the phone of course, not you. But whomst among us doesn’t have a phone glued to their body at all times?
  • Your child unbuckles their chest clip while the car is moving. This can be helpful if your child is an escape artist, but will only notify you, and of course you are driving. Have a plan for how to address this behaviour to make it stop.
  • The back seat is too hot or too cold. 
  • If you’ve been driving for more than 2 hours, as a reminder to take breaks. I didn’t take any trips of this length to test this notification.

Final thoughts:

The Revolve is a very nice option for those with room to rotate, offering smart design and comfort features to make loading an unloading a breeze. Whenever possible, test fit before buying to make sure there is room to rotate, and that you can properly install both rear- and forward-facing in your vehicle. 

Your chance to win one!

Thank you to Evenflo for providing the Revolve 360 GOLD (as well as the Revolve Extend and Revolve Slim) used in this review. All comments are our own.

Also thank you to Evenflo for offering one up to our readers! Enter for your chance to win an Evenflo Revolve 360 in Amherst fashion. Use the widget below to enter.

About the author:

Jen Shapka has been a CPST since 2010. She lives in Winnipeg with her two dogs, husband and kids, and a winter that never ended. It snowed a few days before writing this review. 

Chicco released the MyFit onto the Canadian market in June 2020, and we purchased one so that we could check it out and share our thoughts with you. This was just after much of Canada cautiously emerged from round one of lockdowns and things were starting to open back up. We thought we’d get this review out soon.

Reader…it was not soon.

But here we are, happy to report that the MyFit is a really wonderful option, and is high on our list of recommended seats. Keep reading to see if it might work for you!

The Chicco (pronounced Key-Ko, for real) MyFit is a forward-facing only seat that later converts to a high back booster. It is appropriate for kids who are at least two years old and forward-facing. The specific fit requirements are as follows:

In harness mode:

  • At least 2 years old
  • 25 – 65 lbs (11.4 – 29.5 kgs)
  • 54” (137 cm) tall or less

In booster mode:

  • At least 4 years old
  • 40 – 100 lbs (18 – 45.3 kgs)
  • 38” – 57” (97 – 145 cm) tall
  • Able to sit tall and straight at all times (for most kids this is closer to age 6)

Measurements and features:

  • Torso height in harness mode: ~12.5” – 19.5”
  • Torso height in booster mode: ~13.5” – 20.5”
  • Width at widest point:
    • 17.5” at the shoulders
    • 17” at the base and arm rests
  • Two crotch buckle positions
  • Nine headrest/harness height positions
  • Four recline positions and bubble recline indicators to fit a good range of vehicle seat shapes (not for discretionary recline)
  • Premium, push-on UAS connectors
  • Integrated shoulder belt lock-off for seat belt installation
  • Removable harness pads and crotch pad
  • Flexible and foldable cup holders
  • Built-in storage compartment for harness system while using booster mode
  • Use lower anchors to secure the seat when in booster mode (optional)
  • Expires 8 years from date of purchase (with proof of purchase) or 8 years from date of manufacture
  • MSRP of $400 but often on sale for $330 or so; available at Canadian Tire, sometimes at, often at boutique retailers

Things we love about this seat (spoiler alert – a lot, we 🧡 this seat):

  • It has one of the tallest standing height limits in harness mode of any seat currently available – a super choice for tall or long-torsoed kids, or those who need to be harnessed for longer than average
  • It is narrow – a great option for a 3-across situation
  • It has a lock-off, which makes seat belt installation easier
  • It has very nice finishing details and a polished feel
  • It has a really smooth adjuster mechanism, making it easy to tighten the harness

Things we don’t love (minor things):

  • The manual is bilingual, but all mashed together. Every line alternates between English and French, making it very distracting to read and follow along. Caregivers will miss things, it’s bad. It helped to cover most of the page and read line by line to ensure we didn’t miss important details. Some readers may prefer to acquire a PDF of this manual and do a CTRL+F for keywords. It’s that distracting. #WhyChiccoWhy?
  • Interference with vehicle head restraints in harness and booster modes may be an issue. This is a vehicle issue more than a seat issue, but will make this seat incompatible in many vehicles with forward-leaning or non-removable head restraints, and is a problem common among seats in this category.

Since we are slow getting this review published and the seat has been on the market for some time, we are able to provide feedback from a broad range of CPSTs as well as from a parent struggling to make 3-across work in their vehicle. Yes, we are rationalizing our tardiness, shhhh.


  • Extremely well-liked by CPSTs – we are a tough bunch but this one tops the list of many CPSTs
  • The lock-offs are nice and easy to use – although not obvious if you aren’t familiar with them (hint: always read the manual, even if you think you know what you are doing!)
  • The harness is easy to tighten, and in the words of many techs who’v had their hands on it, the smoothest harness they’ve ever had the pleasure to tighten
  • The harness length is great – it fits bigger, taller kids without running out of harness, so the max height and weight limits aren’t inflated
  • The crotch area and adjustability of the crotch buckle position is roomy enough to accommodate larger kids comfortably
  • Little details make a big impression: the crotch buckle pad doesn’t pull off constantly, the foldable cup holders are genius in tight seating situations, the head rest is easy to adjust up and down while the seat is installed (not always the case with no-rethread harnesses, sadly)
  • Age 2 to forward face and age 4 booster minimum are appreciated; we’d advocate for later on both of those transition points because it’s important not to rush the stages but those are very good minimums on a seat like this.

If you need extra width you can easily squash the cupholders inside themselves to save space – so smart! Chicco is known to refer to them as “cup folders” – I do love a good play on words. The puppy insisted on checking it out.

Parent report:

A family of five was looking for a car seat that would work in a tight 3-across in an 2013 Acura MDX. On the verge of having to consider a new vehicle to accommodate the growing children (and my goodness, have you seen the used vehicle market lately, ouch!), the MyFit saved the day, particularly the lock-off. The MyFit was nestled in between two Clek Foonfs, and feels sturdy even when the littlest kids have to climb over it to access their own seats. 

The six year old who now rides in this seat noticed that it sits a lot lower than the Clek Foonf he was used to, but he finds it comfortable and likes the arm rests and the dual cup holders. Pro tip: even when a child is booster ready it is often easier for everyone to keep them harnessed because boosters take up a lot of space.

This family likes that it looks good with their other seats, and that the polish and finish on it is well done. It feels sturdy and is easy to use for all of the kids. Grandma finds it simple to tighten and loosen – the strategic orange markings are appreciated. They liked their first one so much they bought a second.

Jen’s report:

  • I have always loved the Chicco KeyFit rear-facing only seat and had high hopes for this seat, and it lived up to my high expectations, thank goodness.
  • A much-needed slim but tall seat for our market. Options for a seat to accommodate kids over 49″ tall are hard to come by.
  • It can be a little bit finicky to find the sweet spot for recline and positioning when installing but once you find it, it’s golden. Goes in easily and stays put.
  • Smooth harness adjuster – like butter!
  • If you have protruding, forward-leaning, non-removable, or non-adjustable head restraints in your vehicle then this seat may not be a great option. It will depend on the severity of the lean, so you will want to do your research in advance or try the installed MyFit at *all head rest heights* before you buy to make sure it will work for you throughout the life of the seat. 
  • Booster fit is reliable
  • The process to convert to booster mode is not difficult, but it is made worse by the horribly bilingual manual. I liked how all of the pieces tucked away in the seat. I never liked using a harnessed seat converted to booster mode for my own kids – I always preferred a dedicated booster seat and so did they – but I know not everyone feels the same way. So relatively speaking it’s neat and tidy when converted. However, a tip: if you follow the instructions and put the harness cover pads into the little storage cubby, and then LOSE THEM IN THE DEPTHS OF THE SEAT and start to panic because how on earth will you retrieve them, take a breath. Sit the seat upright and recline it to the most reclined position, and then reach under the seat pan. That should give you enough space to find the missing harness cover. Or better yet, don’t even put them there. Store them in a ziploc with the manual, in your glove box.

Thank you to the parents, kids, and CPSTs who contributed their thoughts and photos to this review! 

As with any seat we really recommend trying before you buy – try a friend’s, test yourself at a store, or go to a store with a CPST on staff (or hire one to go with you!) to help you shop for seat that will be perfect for your child and your car.

Jen Shapka lives in Winnipeg with her kids, husband, and dog, who does not much like to swim. She visits Lake Winnipeg often, and pretends it is the ocean. You can often find her running, teaching CPST courses for CPSAC, and trying to get her kids to clean their rooms. She has been a CPST for 11 years.

Prize grid with day 12 of 12 showing, winner's choice!This event is now over but please scroll down to enjoy our poem!

It’s time to give back to our readers, contributors, fans, families, and caregivers, in thanks for engagement over our many years of providing Canadian child passenger safety information.

COVID Times are a challenge and maybe winning something fun and useful will brighten your day. For sure it will brighten ours – we love giving things away.

Beginning the morning December 13th through to the 24th we’ll post a new giveaway that will be open until midnight Pacific that night; the next morning we’ll draw a winner and post a new giveaway. Twelve days in a row!

Earn entries by sharing, liking, and generally spreading around our car seat and booster seat information. After all, we wrote it for you! Go digging and you might find some content you’ve never seen before.

Check back here each day for a new entry and a new prize, and make sure to follow our posts on Facebook so you don’t miss a single one. Find the follow settings (three little dots near the thumbs up page like button) and check or click on the ‘following’ option so you see our posts higher in your newsfeed and not days later…because by that time the contest will be over!

And now, a poem:

The board was all covered at T-minus-1,
You must wait until Sunday to start up the fun!

Today is the day when the giving begins!
A wee little intro to start off the wins.

Day two is a two pack, hurray, how neat!
To suit a big and a little all snug in their seats.

Day three we hope for you to never need,
If necessary though you’ll have sharpness and speed.

Day four is for cleaning because kids are a mess,
You will be glad of this kit you possess.

Day five is a twofer, a two-pack, a pair,
You can keep two or give one, a spare or to share.

Day six is a newbie, a small little seat,
It’s slim and it’s low and we think it’s quite neat.

Day seven keeps kiddo so warm and so toasty,
But safe and not squished and happy, mostly.

Day eight is compact and lightweight and wee,
Fits well for newborns and at 1, 2, or 3!

Day nine is for those of you growing your crew,
For your first or your fifth we’ve got you, it’s true.

Day ten, day ten! Who is booster-seat ready?
We really just wanted to rhyme with spaghetti.

Day eleven is here with a great little choice,
It’s slim and compact and it’s really quite noice.

Day twelve, we made it, we’re here at the end!
And now it’s your choice, on what will you spend?

13 days in a row we composed stanzas and tweets,
We raffled and posted and it was quite the feat.

The graphics were done, in advance, and with care,
In the hopes that our readership all would click share.

It was super fun for us as the car seat fairy,
To make this time of year more joyous and merry.

We hope that you found some new info to read,
An article or favourite list, something helpful indeed.

We loved all the comments, the likes, and the questions,
So we could share our knowledge with car seat suggestions.

The fun is now over, it’s time to relax.
Enjoy all the prizes, the wins, and the sass.

Congrats to the winners, and thanks for the fun.
We’re going to go rest now…we’re spent, we’re done!

1st Day of Giving:

The winner of the Unbuckleme car seat helper tool is: Stephanie G.! This tool is great for those with reduced hand strength who find pressing the crotch buckle release button to be a challenge.

2nd Day of Giving:

The winner of the Evenflo Generations 2-pack (Sonus 65 + Big Kid Amp) is: Michelle H.!

3rd Day of Giving

The winner of the ResQme pack is Amanda V.! We hope you never need to use this!

4th Day of Giving

The winner of the Clek car seat cleaning kit is Colleen R-C. Don’t wait until spring cleaning to use it!

5th Day of Giving

The winner of two Harmony Youth Boosters is April Z. What colours will you choose?

6th Day of Giving

Erin M. won a Graco RightGuide booster seat. Yay!

7th Day of Giving

Eran J. won a BuckleMe Baby Coat in a colour and size of her choice. Cozy!

8th Day of Giving

Shannon C. is the winner of the Cosco Scenera NEXT.

9th Day of Giving

Anna B. is the lucky winner on day nine, for an Evenflo LiteMax. Woohoo!

10th Day of Giving

Anne L. wins day 11, a Britax SkyLine booster seat.

11th Day of Giving

Katie R. won the Graco Contender! And no one commented on our Brooklyn 99 reference. Oh well.

12th Day of Giving

Kelsey G. is the lucky winner of the twelfth and final prize.

Thanks to everyone who played!

Updated October 2020.


  • Time- and space-saving concerns in dressing rooms with COVID restrictions
  • How a car seat or booster seat works
  • Why hockey gear puts kids at risk in the car
  • Problem-solving ideas to make it all work!

In an effort to save time, change room space, congestion in hallways and lobbies, and improve the flow of kid (and parent) traffic we’ve had many parents ask us if it’s safe to dress their kids in their hockey gear at home, and arrive at the rink ready to play. As minor sports teams work out return-to-play plans while making COVID-19 precautions, we anticipate this issue coming up more and more.

Turns out none of us have hockey-playing children, so we surveyed some other CPSTs who are also hockey parents, and bring you their best advice.

UPDATE: The Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) agrees, and has some shareable resources, including:

UPDATE: Child Safety Link also agrees; read their perspective here.

Is it safe to wear hockey gear in the car seat or booster seat?

The short answer: nope. And here’s why.

Gear — pants and shoulder pads — interferes quite a lot with how the seat belt or harness fits on the body.

If the harness or seat belt doesn’t fit it can’t do its job: keeping your child in the car in the event of a crash.

In most places, depending on the exact wording of the relevant province or territory’s Highway Traffic Act or Motor Vehicle Act or associated regulations, that inability to fit properly or be used properly would be illegal.

If a parent called the manufacturer of their seat to ask if wearing gear in the seat was okay we are quite certain the answer would be absolutely not. Manufacturers want their products to keep kids safe, and the bulky and unyielding addition of sports padding and gear makes that impossible to do.

Hockey gear: keeps your child safe on the ice.

Car seats and booster seats: keeps your child safe in the car.

Unfortunately they don’t cooperate and can’t be mixed.

This is the slack left in the belt after buckling with pads on. To do its job the seat belt must be snug to the body, so this isn't safe.

What about helmets and other gear?

We don’t recommend anyone wear a helmet in the car. Helmets add extra weight to the head, which in a crash, puts even more strain on the neck and spine. Wearing a helmet in a 5-point harness is actually not just like a race car driver, where there is a 6th point of attachment for the helmet called a HANS device. Read more about that here, if you’re interested.

Anyway, back to the hockey gear dilemma!

Parents of goalies...we know you have even more gear to contend with!

How much of a difference can wearing gear, or not, really make in a crash?

Why is using a car seat or booster seat properly so important? Because it can reduce the risk of death or injury by up to 71%. Considering that motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death of kids due to unintentional injury in Canada, that’s too important to ignore.

The most applicable instructions we have to address harness or seat belt fit are right in the car seat and booster seat manuals themselves. A small sampling is below.


Adjust the belts provided with this child seat so they fit snugly around your child. A snug strap should not allow any slack. It lies in a relatively straight line without sagging. It does not press on the child’s flesh or push the child’s body into an unnatural position.

Adjust the harness to fit the clothes the child is wearing. Remove bulky coats and/or jackets before putting the child in the child seat.


Secure harness snug and flat on your child.
Take care to secure the child properly. Snugly adjust the belts provided with this child restraint around your child.
Avoid bulky or heavy clothing. Doing so will prevent the harness straps from being tightened properly.
The addition or removal of clothing will change the fit of the harness.


WARNING! Do not put snowsuits or bulky garments on your child when placing them in the car seat.

Bulky clothing can prevent the harness straps from being tightened properly.


Child must be dressed in clothing with arms and legs that will not interfere with buckling and snugly adjusting harness.


WARNINGS: Failure to fasten and tighten the harness system correctly may allow the child to be ejected from the child restraint in a crash or sudden stop causing serious injury or death. Do not mistake comfort for safety. Harness system must be snugly adjusted.


Failure to adjust the harness or vehicle seat belts snugly around the child may result in the child striking the vehicle’s interior during a sudden stop or crash. Serious injury or death may occur

In cold weather, DO NOT dress the child in bulky clothing like snowsuits if the child is riding in a child restraint. Bulky coats/snowsuits make it difficult to properly tighten the harness to the child, which may allow the child to be ejected from the restraint during a crash. 


So what can be done to make the transition from car to ice a little easier?

So there is the whole list of what not to do, but that doesn’t help a frazzled parent trying to wrangle a child into their gear, and it doesn’t ease congestion at the rink. What are players to do? Here are some tips for how to keep kids safe in the car, and dressed as quickly and painlessly as possible at the arena.

Wear base layers in the car

Put on the thin, comfortable under-layers before leaving the house, thinking strategically about what can go on in advance without interfering with the harness or seat belt.

Put skates on at home

Some parents we asked said that it does work for them to lace up before getting in the car. This will of course depend on your child’s ability to get in and out of the car with skates on, and how easy it is to get from the car to the arena, and how much you trust them not to slice up your upholstery. One parent recommended good skate guards like these to make this doable, or for even more stability and traction try SkaBoots.

The small town arena from my childhood would have made a good backup for the set of an Ultimate Beastmaster obstacle course, but hopefully yours is less icy with fewer snow banks. Lacing up at home would definitely speed things up. It’s worth talking to arena management about anything they can do to make access easier for players walking in skates: would a change in ploughing make this doable for your players? Would rubber mats help? Be creative and think beyond your own family to make the rink more accessible for everyone.

Be strategic about other gear

Is your player able to ride safely with shin pads in place? Jock?

Some kids are able to drop their pants down to their shins in the car, buckle up, and then pull them back into place at the arena. You might have to do a test run to see what works and what doesn’t for your particular situation.

Is your vehicle a portable dressing room?

Is there enough room in your vehicle to dress a player in the last layers while still in the car? If you drive a 3-row vehicle, do you have enough room to fold down the 3rd row and use the hatch? How about stowing or removing a 2nd row captain’s seat for the worst of the winter?

An organized hockey bag

Knowing exactly where things are located in the gear bag will speed up the process. Avoid having to root around to find things. Involve your child in this process, especially if they will be doing more of the getting dressed independently. Pack and organize it how they find it useful, even if it’s not how you would do it.

One parent’s routine is like this:

Put on base layer, neck guard, elbow pads, bottom gear, and skates with skate guards. When you get to the car, pop the cup out of the jock and drop pants to knees before buckling. At the rink, you put the cup back in, pull up pants, put on shoulder pads, jersey, helmet, gloves.

Practice with your child

Can you teach your child to gear up more independently? They might surprise you with what they can do on their own if you practice. Figure out a routine that makes things easier for them to be be quick and focused. Is there a pneumonic that helps them remember the order? A song? When mine were little this rhyme helped them remember the steps to get ready for bed: toilet, flush, wash hands, brush. Sometimes I notice I am humming it at bedtime…to myself.

It works for this hockey player to have his hockey socks on (yellow) and just needs to pull his pants on at the rink.

Don’t mistake comfort and convenience for safety

Ultimately it all comes down to this, which is also true for child passenger safety every day of the year. 

Is it time consuming and annoying? Yes.

Are these extra steps necessary to keep kids safe in the car – the most dangerous place most of them are every day? Also yes.

Enlist the support of other families, coaches, and league leadership to make sure you are doing what you can to help kids arrive safely to the rink. Team work on this one will make all the difference to managing during this new normal, and keeping everyone safe on and off the ice.

VICST has been around for 4.5 years now…and we’ve never really gotten around to branding ourselves. We think it’s high time!

Sadly, we lack both imagination and creative design skills. That’s where you come in. A logo contest! Or a trade, or barter, if you’d prefer. 

To the winner: your choice of a Graco Dimensions, Evenflo SureRide, Graco MyRide, or possibly something else that you need. If you win we’ll chat.

The rules:

You design and create an original logo or set of logos for our use. If you are the winner you agree to give us complete ownership of the images so we can use them as we see fit. If you submit a design it must be your original design.

The logo must be proportioned to fit in standard Facebook or Twitter profile pictures (square), and ideally would also be able to be used in header format. Perhaps there are some basic design elements that can be creatively combined in different ways! We don’t know…you see why we haven’t done this before?

One day maybe we’ll print it on a banner so a high res file would be good. Ideally it would also print well in black and white for those times when we photocopy stuff. We would prefer if it could be produced as a vector file but don’t require it.

We are under no obligation to choose any winner. We may extend the deadline if we haven’t received sufficient entries. Open to Canadian residents of any age, void where prohibited.

Please submit to by 11:59pm Pacific time on Sunday May 15th. We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Physics2Collision Dynamics: Dissecting Impact, by Angela Stacey

(Physics disclaimer: Assuming ideal conditions, friction out of scope, assuming no loses to H/L/S, decel/accel out of scope).


It’s the moment we CPST’s fear most. Impact from a vehicular collision. And rightfully so! A lot goes on in the milliseconds leading up to, during and after an impact. But by growing our understanding of how these timeframes play out, we can help to better protect the occupants of our vehicles and those of the families we help. And hey, physics is fun! (Don’t believe me? You’ll see).

First, let’s start with some basic physics: Newton’s Laws of Motion. Not a math lover? Never been one for complex equations? Well, you’re in luck, Newton’s Laws are simple to interpret and apply to everyday situations. These three laws govern the motion of anything and everything, including your vehicle. These laws will be the main tool in our impact dissection kit, so let’s take a look at them.

Laws of PhysicsFirst law: Every object in a state of uniform motion or at rest will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.

Second law: The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (meaning they have both a magnitude and a direction).

Third law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is, when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.

Not so bad, right?

Let’s put ourselves at the scene of a rear-end collision. For simplicity, we’ll say that they are both the same model of vehicle, with the same mass*. We have been told that the vehicle traveling behind (a silver vehicle) has impacted the vehicle in front (a blue vehicle) as the pair were coming to a stop at a red light. No one is badly injured, but both drivers seek to better understand why their necks hurt.

In order to better understand what happens in a collision at the moment of impact, we must first look at what happens before that moment. Our bodies, our children and our trunk full of groceries are all traveling at the same speed as the vehicle. Now would be an excellent time to read Newton’s First law of motion again. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The objects in your vehicle are traveling in a state of (relatively) uniform motion in the moments before the impact. They will carry on that way until…something acts to stop them or change their course. The silver vehicle impacting the blue vehicle serves this function. As the vehicles impact one another, the contents of the vehicles impact the surfaces adjacent to them. The force with which objects contact one another is equal to the product of the mass of the object (in kilograms) and the acceleration of the object (in m/s2 ), which is Newton’s second law: F = ma. I will point out that units are very, very important!

So that bottle of windshield wash in the foot well of your vehicle? It’s time to put that in the trunk to make sure it doesn’t continue in uniform motion and impact someone in the event of a collision!

At the moment of impact, everything (and everyone) moves toward the point of impact. Give Newton’s third law another read. In a collision between two objects, both objects experience forces that are equal in magnitude but opposite in direction. The person in the silver vehicle will feel a force “coming back” to them that is equal to the force they hit the blue vehicle with, but again, in the opposite direction. This is why the person in the rear vehicle will move forward in their primary post-impact movement, and the person in the front vehicle will move backward, pressing into their seat. Occupants of both vehicles will move toward the point of impact because of the equal and opposite forces described by Newton’s third law. Take silver vehicle’s force to be directed –> this way, then the blue vehicle’s force would be equal and oppositely directed <– this way. Giving you: S–> <–B

Rear end collisions also involve the consideration that both vehicles are moving in the same direction, though one has unfortunately “caught up” with the other. This affects the outcome such that both vehicles will continue to move along that path until they come to a stop, their original direction of travel being the same means that their force vectors (think of these as arrows that represent the direction the vehicle is moving, with a length proportional to the mass multiplied by the acceleration of the vehicle) will add. Yet another reason why rear end collisions do not represent a large amount of overall collision injuries.

A video may help, see above: (silver vehicle = silver bottle, blue vehicle = blue bottle)

I hope that this short explanation has helped to increase your understanding of the basic physics of a collision, and will serve as a motivation to learn more about physics!

*Something to note: In accordance with Newton’s second law of motion, the acceleration of an object is dependent upon both force and mass. Thus, if the colliding objects have unequal mass, they will have unequal accelerations (or rather, decelerations) as a result of the contact force that results during the collision. This is why you will see a small car slide across the road when hit by a Hummer. Mass is (sometimes unfortunately) directly related to force.


A fun way to recap some products new to market, and highlight our tried-and-true favourites! And did we mention a contest? YEAH! We will offer up giveaways for some of the below listed seats…but the window for entry will be short so you’ll have to check back often! See below for complete rules.

Is your child’s seat not on this list? Don’t despair – it’s just a quick, fun recap. We have LOTS of favourites and you can check them all out here! If you’re shopping for a new one and plan to buy through Amazon please start here so a small portion gets referred back to us at no cost to you. It helps funds our seat donations throughout the year.

1. Best new convertible under $150

NEXT redThe Cosco Scenera NEXT wowed and amazed us with its small size and amazing abilities. $99 at Walmart and in six cute colours it fits in places we never thought a rear-facing seat could go. Dorel is making some waves in the industry with a minimum age of two for forward-facing. Fist bump Dorel – carry on.

CONTEST #1: Congrats to the winner, Charlene C. from B.C., who won a Cosco Scenera NEXT.


2. Best new convertible under $300

DimensionsGraco Dimensions (with its slightly less well-dressed sister the Contender) came onto the market in late summer at $269 and available most places Graco seats are sold (Contender is a Canadian Tire exclusive). Despite the 35lb rear-facing weight limit it’s crazy tall and super compact, making it a top notch choice for rear-facing a l-o-n-g time for those slim but tall kids, even in small cars. The Dimensions has nice features like premium push on UAS and harness pads. Video tour here.

CONTEST #4: Congrats to the winner, Stephanie H., from Ontario, winner of a Graco Dimensions.


3. Gold star for consistent awesomeness

TurboboosterBooster fit is ALL about belt fit, and that is completely dependent on the specific seating position in a vehicle (3rd row bench versus 2nd row captain’s seats for example) and the child who will occupy the seat. The Graco TurboBooster, the high back version specifically, is such a tried and true performer that if we know nothing about the vehicle-kid combo this seat is a pretty safe bet. Found most places for around $70-80 and frequently on sale for less it is easy to use, lightweight, and provides consistently good belt fit on most kids. Is your child booster-ready? This will help you decide.

CONTEST #2: Congrats to our three winners, Tennille, Sheena & Jill, all from Ontario. We gave away one each of a high back Graco Turbo, a high back Evenflo Amp, and a backless Harmony Youth Booster. 


4. Best booster we don’t talk about enough

Evenflo AMPAnother seat that is a good bet in many circumstances is the high back Evenflo Amp. Readily available at many retailers for around $70 its particular claim to fame is being a good bet in vehicles with long buckle stalks, as well as being one of the very few that work in the 3rd row outboard of current body style Dodge Grand Caravan (and clones Chrysler Town & Country and VW Routan), or 3rd row of the Mazda 5.

CONTEST #2 now closed – congrats to the winners!



5. Best infant seat we don’t talk about enough

embrace stock photoSmall but mighty the Evenflo Embrace is amazingly long lasting, pretty compact, and well-priced. It’s $140 at Walmart, and accommodates kids 4-35lbs or 17-30″ tall. It’s lightweight, fits tiny humans beautifully, and is a breeze to install.



6. Best new combo seat

Harmony Defender Pirate GoldA much anticipated addition to the combination (forward-facing harness-to-booster) seat lineup is the Harmony Defender. With a cool cover name of Pirate Gold we had high expectations – and were not disappointed. Exceptionally long lasting with a lot of features we’ve come to expect from pricier seats and on the shelves at most Walmarts for $159 it has a lot going for it.

CONTEST #5: Congrats to the winner, Amelia I. from Nova Scotia. Enjoy!


7. If we had another baby and skipped the infant seat we’d use…

20150412_090314_resizedClek Infant Thingy plus Foonf or Fllo. Clek released their “Infant Thingy” last spring and like their other products it was well thought out, well-executed, and just beautiful. It allows a truly magnificent fit for a newborn in a seat that can otherwise accommodate most kids to age four rear-facing, and to six+ forward-facing. None of us are expecting – but if we were the Infant Thingy would be at the top of our list for the newest VICST CPST-in-training.


8. If we had another baby and used an infant seat we’d use…

keyfit30Chicco KeyFit 30 (pronounced KEE-ko, for real). Smooth, simple, compact front to back yet long lasting for height and weight (4-30lbs or 30″ tall), and just all ’round easy to install and use, the KeyFit 30 is a super choice for many families. It’s also three-across friendly, meaning the straight edges of the base make it a good option when trying to fit three seats in a tight space.

CONTEST #3: Congrats to the winner, Sarah D. from B.C., who won a Chicco KeyFit 30!



9. We can’t believe this is less than $20

pink HarmonyDid you know that most kids get out of a booster seat far too soon? Despite provincial laws that allow a child to ride in only a seat belt at age 8 or 9 the provincial law ALSO requires the seat belt to fit properly. For the vast majority of kids that won’t happen until at least age 11. For a mere $18 the Harmony Youth Booster (and any other booster that provides good belt fit) can dramatically decrease horrible life-altering injuries to the 6-11 year old crowd. We really like the Youth Booster.

CONTEST #2 now closed – congrats to the winners!


10. What we’re excited to get our hands on in 2016

IMG_0330What fun stuff will 2016 bring us? Already on the market but not yet in our hot little hands is the Nuna Pipa, an infant seat with some neat features that we previewed in the fall at a Toronto Trade Show. We hope to have more info about it soon. Also at that show was the Recaro Performance Booster and Performance Sport combo seat, and we liked the looks of them. We’ve also heard rumours of the Graco 4Ever coming to Canada but no info on it yet. What else will come to market in the next year?



And huge thanks to you for reading and sharing and getting good quality child passenger safety info out there in the world! Here’s hoping that 2016 is a good one for us all.

Contest rules: open to residents of Canada age 18 or older except where prohibited. Not open to the four admins of VICST or their immediate family members, nor to anyone who won something from us in 2015 or their immediate family members. One entry per household please. Entries must be completed in full, and winners must respond within 48hours to claim their prize. Entry time period varies by seat/day so check back often. Winners will be chosen randomly with the help of 

The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. By providing your information in the contest form, you are providing your information to VICarSeatTechs alone. We do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of verifying and contacting the winner.

If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email! (


Consumer Reports just released their newest test results on a long list of convertible (infant/child) seats. There is a lot of chatter about it and we want to help you to wade through the information and make sense of it. A great US read on this issue is here by our friends at Carseatblog. Also very thorough is the Car Seat Lady’s take on it.

In case this is as far as you read here are our Take Home Messages:

  1. The BEST seat for you is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle, fits your budget, and that you can use properly EVERY TIME. That “use properly” bit is key as misuse piled on top of misuse is going to increase the risk of injury to your child.
  2. Take extra care to ensure the car seat is installed tightly with 1″ or less of movement at the belt path, and that your child is buckled in without bulky clothing so that the harness passes the pinch test.
  3. Rear face as long as possible — in fact don’t rush ANY of the transitions. Remain in a harness until 5-6+, booster until 11ish, and then always wear your seat belt properly.

Please remember that Consumer Reports is testing American car seats. Up here in the Great White North our seats are often a little different as our testing requirements are different. Even seats that appear to be identical often aren’t. Canadian seats tend to have more padding in the head area, have some form of anti-rebound control when rear-facing (most commonly anti-rebound bars, or a modified shape to the front edge of the car seat compared to US seats), and always require the use of the tether when forward-facing. Our weight limits are lower, and sometimes height limits too. We also have much less selection…but really, tons more than we used to! US seats are cheaper but Canadian seats are made for Canadian requirements and it’s illegal for Canadians to use foreign seats here.

It is really important to understand that ALL of the seats tested are SAFE. Let us repeat that – if they’re for sale on the shelf they are safe.

Furthermore the final ratings given to the seats are an amalgamated score combining CR’s idea of “ease of use” and “fit to vehicle” with the crash testing.

Why did Consumer Reports (CR) change the testing method for crashworthiness evaluation? According to them it was because they wanted to provide comparative information to consumers to aid in the buying process, and to develop a test protocol that was more representative of modern vehicles. Great ideas, but no need to panic at the results if your child’s seat isn’t on the top five list.

Good news! 2 of the top 5 seats are excellent budget options. What if you have a seat that isn’t on that list? Don’t freak out. Between the four of us we own…um…a lot of car seats and have absolutely no intention of swapping them out for seats on the Top 5. None. Because first and foremost we know we are using them correctly and THAT is far and away the most important element when it comes to our children’s safety.

Want to double check that you are using your seats properly? Meet with a CPSAC-certified CPST near you. Some charge a fee for their time and others volunteer but either way it’s time well spent.

20151107_104903_resizedAlainna and Jen (and their future CPST helpers, plied with food, play dough, and cameo appearances with My Little Ponies Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle) spent yesterday wandering the Toronto Baby Time Show looking at products, chatting with sales people and manufacturer reps, and ogling new stuff.

We matched, of course. That’s how we roll.

Recaro was an exciting first stop for us. Brand new to Canada they’ve brought their convertible (infant/child) seat to market. So far Canadian Tire is carrying the Performance Ride for $299, and we got to explore it while chatting with their experts. We will have more info on the Performance Ride, the combination forward-facing child/booster seat Performance Sport, and high back booster Performance Booster really soon.

5 years old and tall in the Performance Ride – still plenty of room left by torso height. She proclaimed it super comfy and we agreed. Lots of padding, really nice finishing details.

IMG_0315 IMG_0316

Happy to oblige by sitting in the high back Performance Booster (not quite on the market yet) we were pretty impressed with the height in this seat. No comparison shots yet but it’s a tall, cushy option that does not require a vehicle head restraint behind it. It does have lower anchors to secure it to the vehicle when unoccupied.


We visited Clek as well, spotting the gorgeous new “capri” colour from afar. The 2016 Foonf and Fllo come with extra padding in the head rest and seat pad areas, as well as a new style of harness cover that is longer, soft and cushy with snap closures. Capri will also be available on Oobr and we forgot to ask if it will be on the backless Olli as well. We hope so – it’s beautiful.

IMG_0321 IMG_0322










Clek has also updated the design of the rear-facing lock-offs. Compared to a ski boot closure or my own favourite, a Grolsch bottle, it’s easy to use and should make a seat belt installation even smoother.



Tokidoki fans rejoice – a new space-themed print. My 5 year old spotted the unicorn straightaway.


A stop by the Nuna booth saw Alainna lounging on the job, and then getting to it with her helper. We’re interested to see the Nuna Pipa in action. It comes with a lot of nice features including lovely fabric, rigid UAS, a super easy to use lock-off for seat belt installations, high height and weight limits (4-35lbs, up to 32″ tall), and really quite a lot of flexibility when it comes to usage rules. For those familiar with the Pipa in the US the Canadian version does not have a load leg. Don’t let that stop you though – it’s got a lot going for it. For those who want an infant seat in the $400 price range this won’t disappoint.

IMG_0324 IMG_0330



Our kids ran out of steam and we drove home…but not before spotting this through the ceiling of the convention centre. Until next time!

~Jen & Alainna, the Ontario half of VICST



20150912_092706_resizedUPDATE Nov 2022: The Dimensions was discontinued some time ago, but this favourite seat lives on in its Contender version, which is now sometimes also called the Graco Admiral.

Seeing a new car seat come into the Canadian market is always exciting. Many of us can’t wait to get our hands on something new and see if it lives up to our (high) expectations or falls short. Sometimes we cringe when we see something that isn’t user friendly, has limited height and weight limits or is just too BIG to be useful in many of today’s smaller cars.

One seat we are excited to finally see in the flesh is Graco’s Dimensions 65. We had heard rumours that this seat was coming for some time and we are excited to see it added to the Graco lineup. Graco has many tried and true favourites: the Snugride Click Connect line, Nautilus & Argos combination (harness to booster) seats, as well as the TurboBooster and Affix belt positioning boosters. Until now the only convertible option we had from Graco was the MyRide 65. The MyRide is often recommended for small cars since it is relatively compact front-to-back, but it is also quite wide and not the longest lasting seat overall. This new convertible model takes all the things we love about the MyRide and makes them longer lasting and user friendly!

Graco Dimensions 65 Specs:

  • Rear-Facing:
    5lbs/2.2kg to 35lbs/16kg
    18″/46cm to 43″/109cm, with at least 1″ between top of child’s head and red adjuster handle
  • Forward-Facing:
    22lbs/10kg to 65lbs/30kg
    27″/69cm to 49″/125cm
    Must be at least 1 year old (Best practice is a min. of 2 years or the top limits of RF)
    Must be able to walk unassisted
  • Expires 7 years from date of manufacture
  • $310 at Babies R Us,, Sears

General Features – video tour here

No-rethread Harness
One of the standout features for this seat is the no-rethread harness. It is designed so that you don’t have to pull the harness loose before adjusting the head rest up. The harness could be at the newborn setting, and you just pull the handle at the top and slide it up without any resistance. Click here for a demo to properly appreciate this feature! The no-rethread is fantastic for anyone that has different age/size children that ride in their vehicle. Grandparents, social workers, day care providers, car poolers or just someone with several kids that may use different seats depending on who is riding in the vehicle at the time.

Smooth Harness Adjustment
The harness tightens and loosens easily and smoothly. There is no struggling or tugging when tightening this harness.

Blue for rear-facing instructions, orange for forward-facing. Simple and clear!
Blue for rear-facing instructions, orange for forward-facing. Simple and clear!

Quick Direction Change
The ability to change this seat from rear-facing mode to forward-facing mode is simple and quick. This is
another great feature for the list of people that benefit from the no-rethread harness. The colour coded stickers are easy to read and understand. The recline foot easily flips from back to front, under the seat, and if using a seat belt install, that’s it except for stowing or connecting your top tether hook as required. If using the lower anchor hooks the strap slides along a bar on the right side of the seat and thread through the appropriate belt path. This seat is relatively lightweight so easy to move from vehicle to vehicle and will make a nice travel seat.

Detachable cup holders
I have a love/hate relationship with many cup holders. This one is easy to attach, can be used on either side of the seat and is at the perfect location for both rear and forward accessibility. It easily removes when that space is needed to install another car seat or have a person seated next to it. I ran it through my dishwasher when one of my kids put an unfinished ice cream cone in it, and it came out great. I think the most shocking thing is that I have a kid that doesn’t finish their ice cream!

Easy To Read Manual
The manual is easy to read, well organized and has lots of great visual instructions. Always read the manual before using a child restraint. This is a life saving device! It was designed and tested to be used as indicated in the manual!

Fit to Child

Rear Facing (5-35lbs and 18-43″)20150912_092820_resized
Originally the rear-facing height limit on these seats was 36″/91cm, but Graco has since amended the height limit to 43″, which is fantastic news! Some early models in store may still have the old limits, so contact Graco for new stickers and manual with the updated info. Most kids will be able to use this seat rear facing well past their 2nd birthday, much longer if they are tall and slim.

There are other seats on the market for kids who are heavier than average for continued rear-facing to 40-50lbs. The average boy (50th percentile) reaches 35lbs around age 3.75 and 43″ around age 5 while the average girl is 4 when she hits 35lbs and just over 5 when she is 43″. (Click the links to see Canadian WHO growth charts to see where your child falls). Even those long-torsoed kiddos will be able to rear face a good long while in the Dimensions as the shell+head rest is plenty tall.

At age two, 36″ tall, and ~28lbs this kiddo has oodles of space still rear-facing.

The minimum child size for this seat is 2.2kg/5lbs and 46cm/18″. There are two crotch buckle positions. Newborn fit can vary, and the difference can be in torso length. Although a newborn may be within the lower limits of the seat, if the harness is above the child’s shoulders, they are too small for the seat. The Dimensions fit our small newborn doll quite nicely. The head pad is optional, but the body pad must be used until the baby’s torso is tall enough to fit the seat without it.

Rear-facing there is ample leg room, even for kids at the top end of the height/weight limits!



Forward Facing (22-65lbs and 27-49″)

The first thing I did when I received this seat was extend the harness to its full height. And I was very impressed! The harness height is around 18.5″, rivaling a short list of convertible seats with tall harnesses on the market. This is also around the height of some combination (child/booster) seat harnesses, so this seat could be used until booster readiness for most kids. In addition to being tall, the harness also has a lot of length to it so even a heavier child would be able to have ample harness space. My oldest turns 7 next week, and is 48″ tall and well under the max weight limit, so has 1″ of standing height left before outgrowing this seat. She sits comfortably with harness room to grow. It is possible she outgrows this seat in standing height before her shoulders are above the top harness slot. This is interesting because she has outgrown several other harnessed seats with 49″ limits due to her shoulders being above the top harness slot, as well as a seat that claims a 57″ standing height limit. Always a good reminder that kids fit seats differently and it’s so important to try them in it rather than simply relying on listed numbers.

Pictured left to right: Age 7.5 and still harness height left; age 5 and she reports that it is quite comfortable; age 2 and usually rides rear facing but happily obliges her auntie with her “camera smile” for this forward-facing photo.

20150905_171749_resized 20150905_172049_resized

The seat’s shape naturally makes it reclined when forward-facing. My second child turned 5 last week. He loves it and looks like he’s lounging in his favorite recliner when using it. Prior to the Dimensions arriving I’ve had several other harnessed convertibles and combination seats installed in our van, and he would oblige me with a single courtesy ride in them and then return to his primary, preferred seat. Not this time! I’ve had a hard time convincing him that other kids need to test it out. He has had to move back to his other seat a couple of times when we were carpooling and the other child was outgrown his abandoned seat, but fit in the Dimensions. Another 5 year old tester easily fell asleep in it on a long drive and was able to comfortably keep her head back. There was no forward flop and she reported that she liked it for sleeping (yet denied that she’d fallen asleep at all – do your kids do this!). 

Fit to Vehicle20150910_184049_resized

Rear Facing:

The rear-facing install has been great in many different styles of vehicles. One of the great things about the shape of the seat is that it creates a space ideal for using in vehicles with odd shaped seat bights, raised seat bights or with plastic hinges. One vehicle that often has compatibility issues is the Dodge Journey’s centre seat. The large plastic hinges often interfere with proper installs of some seats, but the Dimensions works around this and installs nicely.

Both belt paths are quite high and seat belt installs work well with many different styles of seat belt buckles, including those with long buckle stalks that can interfere with a good installation. The rear-facing belt path has a nice wide opening and is easy to route the belt through. You can also access the belt path by moving the cover out of the way to get better leverage when tightening the seat belt or lower anchors.

The natural slope of the seat will work well behind vehicle seats with forward leaning head restraints. It is also a good bet for a centre install, leaving ample room for front seat occupants even at a newborn recline. Most vehicles prohibit use of lower anchors in the centre so unless you have a dedicated set of centre lower anchors you must use the seat belt.

20150910_184558_resized_1 20150910_184204_resized_1

2012 Honda Civic – a great bet for tall drivers with the seats all the way back!

Rear-facing the seat fits very compactly front to back and works well in small vehicles. This seat is also very narrow, especially at the base and child’s foot area and has worked really well in several 3-across situations I’ve tried it in, both rear- and forward-facing. It is an ideal choice next to booster seats due to its relatively high shell, and narrow base, leaving room not only for boosters to fit beside it but for young hands to reach down and buckle.

2012 VW Golf Wagon - Dimensions, Contender, Diono Radian RTX. 20150912_104630_resized



We were easily able to install the Dimensions in several vehicles at the newborn recline level without any added rolled towels to increase the angle, but doing so is an option if necessary. The recline indicator on this seat is a roller ball that can be anywhere in the blue range for 3+ months, and within the light blue range for 0+ months (newborns). Make sure to park on level ground when installing, and recline as much as allowed for newborns to protect their airway.





2012 F-150 extended cab – Dimensions installs easily in the centre with lots of leg room for driver and passenger.


2003 Honda Civic (with an upright MyRide in the background).


2013 Ford Focus sedan at a newborn recline, with lots of leg room remaining.


Forward Facing:

One issue I can see is in vehicles with fixed head restraints, forward leaning head restraints and head restraints that may not be removed when installed forward-facing (always check your vehicle manual to know whether the head restraint may be removed when installing a seat). Since the Dimensions has a natural recline the headrest moves up and back, not simply straight up. When extended past the shell of the seat the headrest of the child’s seat may be impeded by the vehicle’s head restraint. See photos below for a comparison with and without head restraint in place.

20150910_185131_resized_1 20150910_185210_resized_1



The naturally reclined shape when forward-facing is a great comfort feature for kids with low muscle tone, for kids who are forward-facing earlier than we’d recommend, or for those who sleep a lot in the car and are otherwise inclined to flop their head forward. Those who like to sit more upright will not enjoy the recline.

The forward facing belt path is closed, which makes it a great option for air travel since the aircraft seat belt buckle won’t be running behind the cover along the child’s back they way it does in many other seats. It weighs 16lbs, so not overly heavy. The narrowness of the seat’s base should also fit well in an airline seat.



Overall Impressions:


  • Narrow base and slim shell will fit 3-across in many vehicles
  • No-rethread harness adjusts up and down without loosening the harness with the same butter-smooth harness adjuster we have come to know and love on the Graco Argos
  • All parts attached except infant insert – nothing to store or lose track of
  • Quick and easy switch from rear- to forward-facing
  • Range of install angles for rear-facing
  • IMMI buckle and non-twisty harness
  • UAS connector system is simple to change from rear- to forward-facing
  • Detachable cup holder works on either side of seat
  • Easy to read manual and seat stickers are clear, and are colour coded rear- and forward-facing
  • Rear/forward-facing flip foot is easy to use and is clearly labeled
  • TALL harness! Top Harness height ~18.5″ from bum to shoulder
  • LOW harness! Adjusts small enough, ~7.75″, to fit the average newborn well
  • Small tether strap adjuster fits easily through truck tether loops and other small spaces
  • Shape when rear-facing makes a good fit for vehicles with plastic hinges and awkward seat bights
  • Naturally reclined when forward-facing (may be a “con” for you depending on your preference!); this may be a great seat for kids with low muscle tone


  • Lower (35lb) rear-facing weight limit
  • Naturally reclined when forward-facing (may be a “pro” for you depending on your preference!); kids who prefer to sit more upright will not enjoy this positioning
  • Not compatible forward-facing with fixed and/or forward leaning vehicle head restraints
  • Little choice in fabric colours – I’d love to see some teal, green, orange, purple, pink…

Thank you to Graco Baby Canada for providing the seat used in this review; all opinions are our own


AC RF vehicleUpdated March 2019. Note for all photos: Dorel is updating the angle at which a rear-facing seat may be installed. Newer versions of the seat may not be permitted to go so upright. Read your manual carefully, and follow the one that came with your seat.

Lightweight, colour options, inexpensive ($99), narrow, and long-lasting YES PLEASE! What’s not to love!

Dorel, parent company of Cosco, has brought the Cosco Scenera NEXT to the Canadian market and it is a fantastic addition to our line-up. They are also bringing some interesting features that are unique, so like always, you must read your manual. Available at Walmart, Babies R Us, or at Amazon you’ll like what you get for the price.

Seat Specs:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 8.22.34 AM

Rear-facing 5-40lbs, 19-40″, 1″ of clearance above the top of the head now required (March 2019) – follow what is stated in your manual.
Forward-facing 22-40lbs, 29-43″, top of the ears level with the top of the shell. If your manual also states a two year minimum then you must follow that.

We very much like the layout in the NEXT manual – clear, concise, easy to follow. And to highlight an important minimum on the original batch of seats: a child MUST be at least 2 years old to forward-face. Go Dorel! This a trend we expect to see on more and more seats in the Canadian market. Update March 2019: newer seats have removed that requirement, but it is still recommended to rear face as long as possible.

  • Machine washable and dryable cover
  • Removable cup holder
  • Weighs less than 8lbs
  • Use of lower anchors (UAS, LATCH) for the full harness weight of the seat
  • 8 years until expiry
  • Harness covers available for purchase directly from Cosco

It is also extremely important to note that if you use this seat to the max rear-facing, as we encourage you to do, it will not be usable at all forward-facing. You may not know this looking at the specs and so it’s important to understand why. When rear-facing the harness comes from at or BELOW a child’s shoulders, keeping him down and contained within the seat during a crash. When forward-facing the harness comes from at or ABOVE a child’s shoulders. The design of the NEXT is such that a child will fit longer rear-facing than forward…and that’s okay. It does it extremely well, so read on!

Here is the same child rear- and forward-facing: At age just-turned-two (the minimum to use it forward-facing), 35″ tall, and 28lbs it is outgrown already forward-facing as the harness is no longer at or above his shoulders…but LOTS of room left rear-facing.

AC RF vehicle AC FF vehicle AC FF harness height

Take home message here Consider the NEXT a rear-facing only seat, something it does with ease. Kind of like an infant seat with no handle. It is highly functional in rear-facing mode so that is what we will focus on.

Fit To Vehicle…NEXT weight

…is spectacular. Truly. It fits in small spaces. It’s on the narrow side. It’s lightweight and easy to install. When mine arrived I dangled it from a digital fish scale (everyone has one of these, right maybe it’s for luggage…) and it came in a 7lbs 10oz. Amazing!

RF level lineThe NEXT has a line on the side that must be parallel to the ground for children who can not sit up unassisted – this is to protect the child’s airway and enables them to keep their heads properly tilted back.

For children who can sit up unassisted the NEXT can be installed more upright, and this is where its amazingness comes out. It can fit in extremely small spaces front to back, leaving ample room for front seat passengers. Update November 2018: Cosco has updated the rear-facing angle instructions, read more here. Update March 2019: Canadian seats may not be installable more upright at all. Read manuals carefully and follow the instructions in yours.

Those of you who had a second child and felt the only way to have room to drive was to turn your child forward Rejoice! Chances are excellent that the NEXT can enable rear-facing a good long while yet. Pretty awesome eh? Some visual examples of just how much room it gives; even more front to back space can be gained installing with this body positioning technique (a different seat is shown but the pelvic brace + peeling the cover back is what you’re after). We also like that the harness adjuster mechanism (that button you push to loosen the harness) isn’t buried when rear-facing.

2012 Ford F-150 extended cab with rear-hinge doors – my tallish self can sit in the passenger seat no problem even with the NEXT at the fully reclined newborn angle.


2012 Ford Focus hatchback. With the NEXT at the newborn angle behind the passenger I had more room in the passenger seat in this car than I have had with any other rear-facing seat. Install it more upright in the middle and both driver’s and passenger’s seats can be all the way back.

20150704_132031_resized 20150704_132543_resized

NEXT also makes a 3-across pretty doable. This is of course dependent entirely on the vehicle and what seats it is beside but the compactness plus narrow shape at the bight (the part that makes contact with the vehicle seat back and bottom) is very 3-across friendly. Furthermore it leaves room to buckle a booster next to it.

3-across in a 2012 Ford Focus hatchback.
3 across in a VW Jetta - NEXT is the blue one in the middle.
3 across in a VW Jetta – NEXT is the blue one in the middle.

Bottom line is it installed everywhere we tried it. While I’m sure it is possible to have an incompatibility out there somewhere we haven’t yet discovered one rear-facing.

Truth be told…we didn’t much bother with forward-facing. If you’re going to forward-face an under-two then you can’t use this seat to do it, and if your child is average-to-large in height or torso length chances are it’s nearly outgrown forward-facing so again, not the seat for you! Plenty of other rear- and forward-facing options on the market though.

Fit to Child

Like all things car seat, reading your manual is SUPER important. The NEXT has very specific, very unique harness routing and crotch buckle routing for use with a newborn. If you use the lowest harness position you MUST route as directed. This is to shorten the harness sufficiently for a newborn, enabling proper tightening. With the 5lb minimum weight, and low harness height, combined with ability to properly shorten the harness, we expect it will fit the average newborn quite well.

2 weeks old, 7.5lbs, 20.5" long this wee one is already on the second-lowest harness slot!
2 weeks old, 7.5lbs, 20.5″ long this wee one is already on the second-lowest harness slot!

NEXT does not come with infant padding but please do use rolled receiving blankets, such as pictured here, for side support if needed. Don’t put anything behind or around baby’s head — no aftermarket head positioners as they’re not approved for use with this seat.

AL infant routing
6 weeks old; 11.5lbs, 22.5″ long.
15 months, 22lbs, and 31″ tall.
SK RF big kid
2.5 years old, 25lbs, 34″ tall.

This evenly proportioned child is right near the height limit at 39.5″ tall and 35lbs…but at 3 years, 9 months he fit for a long time, with ample leg room.


Longevity and fit also depends, of course, on child proportions. In the green shirt: 2.5, 30lbs, 37″ with a long torso. In the purple shirt: 4 years old, 31lbs, 38.5″ tall. Loads of leg room too! Although these kids are similarly sized the long torso on the younger child means he won’t fit in the seat quite as long as his older sister. Most seats require at least 1″ of shell above the head (in addition to being within height and weight limits); the NEXT allows a child’s head to be even with the top. Both of these kids have lots of room left by shell height and weight but are coming close by standing height. The seat is outgrown whenever ONE limit has been met, so keep an eye on all three!

AL RF legroom AL RF 4yo

Other points to note:

We quite like the new look of the manual. Easy to follow and hopefully easy for parents to use properly. Please read your manual – car seat and vehicle – before installing!

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 9.57.54 AM

NEXT is a super option for airplane travel. Remember it weighs less than 8lbs so not only will it be easy to transport through the airport, it will be easy to carry on to the aircraft. The compact size and ability to be more upright can be a handy feature. If you’ve never traveled with a car seat before please consider it for your next trip; your child can sleep in a familiar place, and s/he can be safely restrained in case of turbulence, rough landing, or aborted take-off. Bonus! Rear face that kiddo and no worrying about stopping him from kicking the seat in front of him.

AC RF plane

The seat padding is pretty comfy, and the cover is machine washable and dryable. You have to remove the harness to remove the pad but that’s quick and easy. We love that it’s available in six different cover options !


Do you love colour? Patterns? Prefer for your car seat to match your upholstery? Want something to best camouflage kid dirt and detritus? You have lots of choice with the NEXT! We love choice.

NEXT Moon Mist Grey NEXT River Run Blue NEXT red NEXT Lime Punch NEXT Broadway dots NEXT Otto

Overall Impressions:

Superb value and longevity in this seat provided you use it as a rear-facing only option. That is its true use, and it will easily get most kids rear-facing past age 3. If your child is long-torsoed and hugely tall then you might want to explore other options. The NEXT will enable those of you with small cars to keep on rear-facing your kids even behind a tall adult. Easily removable cover, detachable cup holder to store treasures, cute covers, and lightweight shell make the NEXT a winner in our books.

Now…want to win one? Thank you to Dorel Juvenile Group for providing one Scenera NEXT in the colour of your choice (based on availability) to one lucky person in Canada! Giveaway is over – thanks to all who entered, and congrats to our lucky winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

pink Harmony black Harmony purple harmony

Harmony once made a seat20150822_114256_resized
Simple, lightweight, pretty neat
It came in pink and tan and grey
Purple, black, more on the way?

It fits in really tiny spots,
Pick up one, or buy lots.
For carpooling, or every day
Quite important, you might say.

Route the belt, remove the slack,
Remind them always to sit back.
It makes the seat belt fit just so,
Snug on the hips, nice and low.

It’s comfy, padded, sleek and slim,
Fits really well on her and him!
Sit up tall, nice and straight,George
Maturity matters, there’s no debate.

Boosters aren’t for everyone,
Although they might seem kind of fun.
Wiggly kiddos? Under five?
Consider a harness for the drive.

Boosters for 40lb+ kids who are
Able to sit well in the car.
Use the booster, we do request,
Until they pass the Five Step Test.

VF Booster


Are we silly? Yes. Did we get your attention? We hope so, even if it took some lame rhymes to do so! Is the Harmony Youth Booster (aka Lite Rider, its old name) the only booster we like? Of course not! Belt fit is what matters 🙂 

Defender1It’s not very often that a new seat blows me away…but that honour goes to to Harmony‘s new forward-facing only harness-to-booster seat: the Defender.  It appeared in the US quite a while before hitting the Canadian market and we could.not.wait for it to show up here. Our patience, or lack thereof, was rewarded with an exceptional product at a superb price point.

Available online and in store at Walmart, or direct from Harmony, the Defender is $160, and with that comes a tremendous number of features often found only on higher priced seats.

Defender Specs:

  • With harness:
    • For children who weigh between 22-65lbs AND are between 27-57″ tall AND whose shoulders are at or below the top harness position of about 18″ (18.75″ if you remove the foam in the seat area with a child over 50 lbs retroactively updated to 40 lbs)
  • As a booster:
    • For children who weigh between 40-110lbs AND are between 34″-57″ tall AND whose ears are below the top of the high back booster seat in high back mode, or the top of the vehicle head restraint in backless mode.  The seat belt must fit properly on the lap and shoulder. Highest high back belt guide is about 20″ (20.75″ if you remove the foam in the seat area with a child over 50 lbs retroactively updated to 40 lbs).

The Highlights

  • Lightweight. Move your seat often? Save your back!
  • Use of UAS to a child weight of 46lbs (unless your vehicle indicates a lower limit)
  • Long-lasting by torso height, often the measure by which a seat is outgrown
  • No-rethread harness – adjust on the fly for multiple children
  • Excellent price point of $160
  • Harness pads for added comfort at the child’s neck
  • Lots of bum padding
  • Two crotch buckle positions
  • Easily adjustable up-front recline adjustment to mesh with vehicle seat
  • Smooth harness adjuster – no fighting to tighten adequately
  • IMMI buckles, and non-twisty harness
  • Narrow and ideal for tight seating situations
  • Ten year expiry period
  • Award for cover name. Whoever named the debut fashion deserves a high five and a plate of cookies (for real, whoever you are, I can bake like nobody’s business, and I will put some in the mail). “Pirate Gold” might be my most favourite cover name ever.

The Lowlight (singular)


  • Comes partially assembled (scroll down for a picture tutorial) and requires two Phillips screwdrivers (the X shaped ones) at the same time to put it together. Because of that you MUST read the directions and FOLLOW them. Carefully. It is not IKEA furniture. It’s a lifesaving piece of equipment. Take 10 minutes and read the steps and do it properly. It’s not hard, nor time consuming, just important that it is done properly and with care. If you have difficulty following step by step instructions and assembling things…find a friend who can help.



Let’s get the potentially scary part over with first, shall we? Assembly. Harmony has worked hard to bring a high-featured seat to the Canadian market at a very good price. To do so the Defender ships partially assembled which saves on shipping. But don’t worry, you can do this. Get yourself two Phillips screwdrivers (the X-shaped ones) and a spot on the floor to spread out and work.

Make sure you have all of the washers and screws and bolts, and the long metal rod.

Defender parts

Follow the step by step instructions in YOUR manual to orient the loose parts, and line up the seat bottom with the seat back.  You are installing a screw set into each hip area, and a long metal rod through the lower back area. Make sure to use all of the parts in the order as indicated!

Hip area: make sure the sticking out bit of the black plastic screw is pointing DOWN and nestled into the space intended for it.

Defender hip screw


Lower back area: long metal rod goes here, and is secured with a washer and screw. Tighten both ends simultaneously with a screwdriver in each end.



And that’s it. Not so bad eh? Even while pausing for photos it only took a few minutes. Now on to the good stuff.


Fit to child:

The Defender fits a broad range of kids. Really broad. The littlest here is just big enough to use this seat at 24lbs and 13 months old…and to be honest it’s hard for us to even put a child this little in a forward-facing seat (rear face as long as you can!). The largest child (green jersey) is 7.5, 53lbs, and 54″ tall, pretty close to the top end by height and weight.

The Defender is a nice fit on small kids for those who choose to forward-face that early (not what we’d recommend), and on the upper end there is still plenty of harness length left for the bigger kids. Those who have reached 50lbs but need more torso height can remove the EPP foam pad under the bum for another 3/4″ or so of growing room. The head is well contained within the wings, and while the seat is narrow there is ample room for sitting cross-legged.

20150618_200522 20150730_114054_resized Defender3Defender2 20150627_171752 11822800_10155858771070514_3077442226089293119_n

Child fit in harness modeHarmony Defender01

Our kid testers liked the harness covers to make it comfy at the neck, and the cup holder (removable, it swivels, and can attach on either side for convenience). The crotch pad is optional and can be removed (most kid testers pulled it off but that is common on a lot of seats). Most have found it quite comfortable. Although a sore bum is possible in any seat this one is well-padded, and it’s worth experimenting with the recline of the seat itself, in addition to considering foot support if your child complains.  For those who have slept in the Defender it provides nice side-to-side head support and so far no head flop. This will of course vary by child and angle of install.

Our parent testers especially liked the ease of adjusting harness height – squeeze the handle at the top of the head rest and slide to adjust. The handle is a bit hidden inside the fabric cover but it is there. The harness must be at or above a child’s shoulders at all times. The crotch buckle slides along a channel and has two options, at ~6” and ~8”. Choose the position at or just in front of your child’s crotch.


Child fit in booster mode

Harmony is well known for having booster seats with excellent belt fit, and the Defender in booster mode was no different. While the belt fit was truly great it’s not as easy to use in booster mode as their dedicated boosters that we love (Dreamtime 2 and Youth Booster). Our 7.5 year old experienced booster rider found it comfortable but had difficulty buckling. The distance from the vehicle buckle to the front edge of the arm rest was greater than she was used to and although she is mature, practiced, and tall, she had difficulty reaching that far to buckle. The space between the arm rest and seat pad is also very closed so she had trouble sliding the seat belt into the space. Once buckled though she found it very comfortable, but struggled with the lack of independence she was used to, and that frustrated her.  The younger booster tester also had magnificent belt fit but as she has no experience riding in a booster all buckling was done by an adult.  The Defender is so great as a harnessed seat but that seems to mean a little bit of convenience is lost when moving into booster mode.

Harmony Defender08 Harmony Defender06

Converting the seat from harness mode to booster mode and back was tedious and not something I would be keen to do on a regular basis. I’m really much more of a fan of dedicated boosters though, and don’t really consider this a deal breaker. If you do use the Defender as a booster you’ll convert it and leave it. Make sure to save all of the parts and store them clean and dry for safe use later on.  I admit to not taking the extra steps needed to convert from high back to backless mode. It meant removing the metal rod and hardware from the assembly steps above, and I just didn’t want to. I was looking at Harmony’s Youth Booster sitting next to me and my professional and parental opinion is that once you get to that stage of boostering you’ll be pleased to spend $18 for the convenience of a dedicated booster, passing down the Defender to a child who still needs to be harnessed.


Fit to Vehicle:

We tried the Defender in a wide variety of vehicles and are very pleased with the ease of installation. If you have lower anchors in the seating location of choice you can use UAS up to a child weight of 46lbs (unless your vehicle states a lower limit).

The Defender requires use of the top tether at all times, as does every other forward facing seat in Canada, NO EXCEPTIONS.  The Defender’s tether adjuster mechanism is slim and easy to use and should not be a problem at all in vehicles where the tether must be passed through a small space.  If you vehicle’s head restraint interferes check your manual to see if it can be removed and stowed.

Harmony Defender03


Up to 2” of overhang off the front edge is permitted.  Whether you have any or not will depend on the depth and shape of the vehicle seat.



Experiment with the recline of the Defender using the up-front knob to make it best mesh with the vehicle seat. Aim to minimize gaps behind the seat back wherever possible, as you want maximum contact between vehicle seat back and Defender seat back. If you have overly large gaps either at the lower back or upper edge of the seat take a photo and send it to Harmony; they are best positioned to advise consumers as to what is acceptable.  Those of you with fixed and forward-leaning head restraints might run into issues, but unfortunately this is the case with most forward-facing seats in vehicles with that unfortunate design feature.

20150621_174604 Harmony Defender10


Harmony Defender05Seat belt installations and UAS were both successful. Pro tip: most seats have some way of exposing the belt path. Doing so will make installing infinitely easier. On the Defender this can be accomplished by separating the cover at the lower outside corner and peeling it back. Tighten the belt from the inside of the seat – this works for the UAS strap as well as the belt. Clever body positioning means you can get maximum leverage without requiring herculean strength to tighten.

Will it install perfectly everywhere? Of course not, but no car seat will.  It was a nice fit in the vehicles we tried it in though, using a mixture of UAS, lap/shoulder belt, or lap belt (not all at the same time of course — pick one!)

  •  2009 Dodge Grand Caravan – installs well in all seating positions with a tether anchor (captain’s chairs and 3rd row centre)
  • 2012 Ford Focus
  • 2003 Honda Civic
  • 2003 Honda Odyssey – installs well in all seating positions
  • 2012 Ford F150 Super Cab (extended cab with suicide doors) – installs well and just fits on the vehicle seat without too much overhang.
  • 2011 Honda Odyssey- fits like a glove in the middle ‘8th’ seat 2nd row centre, leaving room for the passenger side seat to flip forward
  • 2010 Jeep Patriot – works well centre, not so much outboard with the really protruding and non-adjustable head restraints. A nice option in a 3-across!
Defender 3 across
2010 Jeep Patriot
Defender middle seat
2011 Honda Odyssey
2009 Dodge Grand Caravan
Harmony Defender02
2003 Honda Odyssey
Harmony Defender09
2012 Ford Focus
2012 Ford F-150 Super Cab on the ’40’ side of the 60/40 split

Removing the Cover

I followed the manual to the letter to remove the cover for cleaning, something I like to try with new seats to see how it washes up and how the process goes.  The manual directs a parent to remove the harness and then remove and wash the cover…but I had a lightbulb moment and after conversation with Harmony they are behind this alternate method and intend to update their manual or online FAQ with this simplified method for cover removal.  This method avoids re-threading the harness at the shoulder and is much easier for parents to accomplish.

1. Lay the seat on its back and locate the rectangular metal plate that holds the harness under the hip.

2. Gently separate the harness from the metal plate with a flat-head screwdriver.

3. Use the screwdriver to carefully pry up the metal plate from the plastic base. The metal plate is now hanging loose from the shell.

4. You’re then going to pop that metal plate up and through the bottom of the seat. To start fold it like the below photo shows.

5. Insert the metal plate into the slot in the seat pan.

6. Pull it through to the other side and it’s free!

7. Now the harness is still attached to the seat at the shoulders, but is loose at the hips. The cover can now be quickly and easily slipped off around the harness; wash per manual instructions. Reverse the process when putting it back together.

cover1 cover2 cover3 cover4 cover5 cover6


Overall impressions:

Harmony aimed to produce a long-lasting, comfortable, easy to use seat at a very attractive price point. They nailed it, absolutely, and it positively shines as a harnessed seat.  The biggest potential issue is assembly, but don’t let that scare you. You get enormous bang for your buck here if you can round up two screwdrivers and few minutes of your time. We love it in our house and has been the main ride in our vehicle for the last month.

Are you super pumped about the potential of this seat? Yay! Win one for yourself or grab one at Walmart. Thank you to Harmony for providing a giveaway prize to one lucky winner, in your choice of fashion, subject to availability (Pirate Gold or Raspberry) – all opinions here, however, are our own. To enter use the Rafflecopter widget below. For your entry to be valid you MUST comment on this blog, answering this question: what feature of the Defender do you find most appealing?  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

11707765_10153412967887165_8408673300298440703_nUpdated 2019. The Monterey as described in this article has been discontinued, which makes us super sad because we loved it so very much.

Diono does make a seat called the Monterey XT, but it’s not quite the same as this one, although certain elements are similar.

It’s b-a-a-a-c-k! Back and better than ever is the Diono Monterey booster, seen here in review (and scroll down, as a giveaway!). It had disappeared from the market for about a year and we were very sad…and then thrilled to learn it was making a comeback! The Monterey is a favourite of techs, and for very good reason. It is one of the tallest boosters on the market, kids find it very comfortable, and it generally provides excellent belt fit in a variety of vehicles.

The Monterey retailed for $160 and was widely available.

It is currently available in three fashions: Bloom (pink), Surf (blue), and Heather (grey, reviewed here).

Diono_Monterey_Bloom_Angled_WithCupholdersDiono_Monterey_Surf_Angled_WithCupholdersMonterey Heather

What we love

  • Fits children 40-120 pounds and 38-63”, making it one of the longest-lasting and tallest boosters available
  • Provides excellent belt fit on most kids in most vehicles
  • The adjustable seat back width means it can be adjusted for different-sized kids, helping smaller children stay contained and in position, while still being comfortable for larger kids who would still benefit from the back portion
  • Long seat pan provides lots of support for long-legged kids
  • Has UAS so it’s not a projectile when not in use (optional)
  • Variable recline positions for comfort and to fit various vehicle seat shapes
  • Stowable cup holders can be tucked away when not in use or if you need more room (what treasures would your kids keep in theirs?)

20150713_201438_resized 20150713_201445_resized

Fit to child:

The Monterey in high-back mode provided excellent belt fit on every child we tried. As always though, we do recommend always trying a seat before purchase if possible. The children we tested said they love how cushy and comfortable it is and the retractable cup holders.  One 7 year old said she liked it even though it wasn’t pink – gasp!

At 21″, the backrest adjusts to one of the tallest heights on the market, meaning it is a great choice for tall and long-torsoed kids who could still use the support of the back.


When evaluating belt fit of a booster seat to a child, you want to ensure the lap belt is low and flat on their thighs (not up high on the belly) and that the shoulder belt is centered in the middle of their collar bone.


On the smaller end of the spectrum, the child below is five and is just 40 pounds and 43”. Her regular seat is still a harnessed seat. The lap belt fit was excellent and she declared the seat to be very comfortable. I appreciated the ability to adjust the side walls narrower.

11052456_10153240024826351_1576201248317825227_n 11295921_10153240024901351_6853039547386612346_n

Another smaller child, at five, 42 pounds and 42” tall. Again, the belt fit is excellent and the seat pan gives lots of support to her legs.


These two kids have very similar stats, at 50” tall and 51 and 55 pounds respectively. Again, excellent belt fit and they found it very comfortable.

11229384_10153240024931351_6023238804757516860_n 11167997_10153412968087165_3323244682587007943_n

At 9 ½, 62 pounds, and 56″ tall, this child normally rides in a backless booster (and is clearly super thrilled to be testing this out in highback mode!), but she is within the specs and still just fits. This would be very useful for a young but tall child who would still benefit from the support of the high-back, or for a child who still falls asleep in the car to give them somewhere to rest their head so they don’t slump out of position.


Road tripping with her family this 8 year old is 90lbs and 4’8″ (54″) tall and prefers to have the back on the 2012 version of the Monterey (virtually unchanged except for the style of the upper belt guide so we included this photo for comparison).

ML in Monterey


Using the Monterey as a backless booster may or may not work for your child/vehicle combination. When buying a seat now for a 5-6+ year old it is hard to predict their build, or know for sure what you will drive, when they have outgrown the back and need to use it backless. Pictured here without the back we don’t like the belt fit on the lap belt; it’s too low on the legs and isn’t making contact with the hip bones — because without the back portion on the child has scooted back away from the belt. If you do find that is the case consider a backless booster such as Diono’s Solana, or another option well-suited to your child.

Fit to vehicle:

20150713_201522_resizedThe Monterey also worked exceptionally well in most seating positions and vehicles that we tried. It does have UAS hooks to latch the booster into the vehicle with an up-front adjustment mechanism to tighten and loosen each connector. This does not provide any extra safety to the booster rider, but does mean that the booster seat isn’t a projectile when not in use, and is a convenience feature that we find, well, convenient! Use of UAS is an optional feature, and if you don’t have UAS in the position you use the booster in we always recommend buckling the booster in when not in use.

11265426_10153412938357165_2803299625134764172_nSometimes with high-back boosters the shoulder belt won’t always retract properly through the belt guide. This is not ideal as the belt won’t be in a good position to keep a child restrained properly if, for instance, the child has leaned forward (hopefully while the car is not in motion!) or if you have had to brake suddenly. Compared to previous versions of the Diono and Sunshine Kids Monterey this revamped Diono Monterey has a redesigned belt guide that tends to be very friendly with most shoulder belts. We found it worked very well in most of the vehicles/seating positions that we tried, including one position where the belt comes at an awkward angle that generally doesn’t work with high back boosters. We did find one seating position in one vehicle where the belt didn’t retract, but in general the Monterey would be an excellent bet.

Diono wants the Monterey seat back to make contact with the vehicle seat and to minimize gaps; if there is a gap, they have advised to contact them for evaluation. Some larger or fixed and forward-leaning head restraints may create too large of a gap to be safely used with the Monterey but as vehicle geometry varies so widely it’s best to leave the decision making to the manufacturer. Take a clear photo or two from more than one angle and let them evaluate the fit for you.


The Monterey does require vehicle head support behind it, even in high-back mode, so it is not an option for vehicles with no head restraints. Diono does not allow the vehicle’s buckle to cross the lower belt guide, so it also may not be an appropriate choice if your vehicle has very long buckle stalks.


Overall impressions:

The Monterey is an excellent booster seat that is loved by technicians, parents and kids alike. It provides excellent belt fit on a large range of children, is one of the tallest high-back boosters on the market with one of the highest weight ranges, and has features to make it a comfortable and convenient seat to use.

It is not the seat for you if you need a booster in a position with no head restraint or if your vehicle has exceptionally long buckle stalks. It may not work if you have fixed, forward-leaning head restraints. As always, if possible try before you buy to ensure it fits your child in your vehicle.

Thank you to Diono for providing the seat shown in this review. All opinions are our own.

Thank you to Diono for providing one booster seat in “Heather” fashion to one lucky reader – this giveaway is closed! Please remember that booster seats aren’t an appropriate option for a child until s/he is consistently over 40lbs, and has the maturity to sit properly in position at all times, usually beginning around age 5-6+. Do you have such a creature?


Introducing the Evenflo Symphony LX, an “all-in-one” seat that is a 2015 Today’s Parent approved product (based on TP’s opinion of quality, ease of use, and value for money).

Evenflo has packaged a number of attractive features into one bundle, available in the LX (reviewed here) and DLX versions. It does a pretty decent job of all of the stages (rear facing, forward facing, booster) and that’s not a statement we throw around lightly.  To be clear it’s perhaps not the only seat you’ll ever need; at a minimum you’ll at least need a backless booster once your child outgrows the booster function. We DO think it’s a good bet for those who transport multiple children…such as grandparents.  In fact this is an ideal seat for the casual transporter, and will accommodate average/large-sized newborns up to the 6-8 year old crowd, at which point a backless booster is a very reasonable (and inexpensive) option.

The Symphony is available for purchase at Walmart,, Babies R Us, Best Buy, and Canadian Tire.  Prices and trim levels vary between about $240-300.

The Symphony is designed to accommodate children who fit the following criteria:

Rear facing:
5-40lbs and 19-40″ and the child’s head is at least 1″ below the top of the child restraint head rest in either of its two lowest positions. NEW! Retroactive change to increase the height limit to 40″.

Forward facing:
22-65lbs and 28-50″ and the tops of the ears are below the tops of the child restraint head rest and child is at least one year old and the harness is coming from at or slightly above the child’s shoulders.

40-110lbs and 43.3-57″ and the tops of the ears are below the tops of the child restraint head rest and child is at least four years old.


  • up-front easy-to-use recline mechanism
  • up-front easy-to-use head restraint adjuster mechanism
  • premium UAS connectors (LX has SureSafe connectors, DLX has SureLatch connectors)
  • included funnel guides for easier use with UAS
  • harness buckle storage pockets for easier loading of child
  • infinite slide harness
  • infant body support included
  • cover is easily removable for machine washing
  • use with UAS until child weighs 40lbs (unless your vehicle states a lower limit); after a child weight of 40lbs install with the seat belt
  • cushy fabric and well-padded

Fit to Child:

At 7lbs 12 oz and 4 days old this average-sized newborn (left) and 11lbs and 4 weeks old (right) fit nicely in the Symphony with the harness tabs sitting at shoulder height, and included infant insert that aids in fit and positioning. Use is for rear-facing only, and optional.

IMG_8818IMG_8814 (533x800)

11233338_10155746888050514_4166020268480730053_oIf there is too much space between baby’s crotch and the crotch buckle, allowing baby to slouch down and potentially compromising the airway, try using a crotch roll (small rolled cloth or receiving blanket) to fill the space. Ensure first that the harness is adjusted tightly to pass the pinch test and then slide the cloth into place. Once baby is older (and larger) a crotch roll likely won’t be needed to maintain position.



Children may rear-face in the Symphony until a standing height of 37″ or until the top of the head is within 1″ of the top of the movable head rest in either of the bottom two positions. A standing height of 37″ will get a 100th percentile child past age two, the minimum we recommend for turning a child forward-facing.


Forward-facing children can be accommodated from 22lbs and 28″ but we strongly recommend (as do Transport Canada and other child passenger safety advocates) to rear face as long as possible.  So don’t rush things!

Our model here — a fairly representative 50th percentile 6 year old girl — is 44lbs, 45″ tall, with a torso height (bum to shoulder) of about 16″. She has about 1/2″ of torso height left before the seat is outgrown as the harness must be coming from at her shoulder level.  Of course shorter torsoed children will last longer, and the long torsoed ones will outgrow it sooner.

The no-rethread “infinite slide” harness will come in handy when using this for multiple children – simply slide the red tabs to the needed height AT your child’s shoulders.


885629_10155746978470514_4087741954288351066_o 151 (533x800)



Booster fit is where most so-called 3-in-1s fail in either fit or realistic longevity – but not the Symphony.


From left to right:

At 44lbs she’s heavy enough for a booster but at only 3.5 she’s much too young (and wiggly! see the hands?) and still fits with oodles of space in the harness – absolutely how we’d recommend she still ride.  However it is encouraging to see that the belt fit is good on the lap and shoulder for those kids who are her size at a booster-appropriate age (5-6ish or so).

At 44lbs, 45″ tall, and 6 years old our model in the fancy dress also has great belt fit, low and touching the hips and centered on the collarbone. She has two “clicks” to go in head rest height, giving her more room in the torso to grow and still fit this seat.

At 56lbs and 49″ tall, and 8 years old this tester also has some space left height-wise, with one “click” to go to the tallest position.



Fit to Vehicle:


The Symphony is neither the most compact seat nor the largest, falling somewhere in the middle for how much space it takes up front to back when rear-facing. As always we recommend trying before you buy wherever possible.  The seat has three recline positions and it’s critical to make sure that it is fully reclined to position 1 when rear-facing. Furthermore look for a raised arrow on the base of the seat and make sure it is parallel to the ground. Use a tightly rolled towel to assist in achieving the needed angle if you have very sloped vehicle seats.


11705492_10155746880645514_1428379869676085815_o 10644425_10155746880235514_3260053226296947783_o

Premium UAS connectors store handily on easily accessible rings on the side of the seat, seen here in the “SureSafe” version on the LX.  Evenflo includes two plastic “LATCH guides,” aka funnel guides, to make installing their seats with premium connectors a breeze in vehicles with buried UAS anchors. No more digging around in the seat bight, the LATCH guide makes it simple.


Buckle storage slots and dual cup holders round out the convenience features found on the Symphony LX.  The Symphony DLX features “SureLatch” self-ratcheting UAS connectors plus OUTLAST temperature regulating performance fabric.

150 (533x800) 152 (800x533)

Overall Impression:

Many seats on the market claim to be a “3-in-1” or to cover all stages of seating for your child from birth through booster use. While an appealing idea for parents – buy only one seat and be done with it – it’s not a realistic expectation for most seats as they often fall short in one or more modes.  We’re pleased to discover that the Symphony shines, and does all modes well.

It’s not the seat for you if you plan to rear-face your off the charts child to age 4, if junior has the world’s longest torso, or if you have a tight 3-across and need to eke out every spare inch of real estate.

We think its true niche is for people who frequently transport a variety of ages and sizes of children. Switching between modes is not tedious, and it has a reliably good fit across the whole range of children the seat is made for.  Grandparents (and aunties and uncles!) we’re looking at you!


  • you can use lower anchors and tether in booster mode, eliminating the need to buckle the seat when empty
  • when the seat is in booster mode there is an on-seat storage location for unused parts (harness, crotch buckle) so no risk of losing parts.
  • 8 year life span
  • the belt fit is great on all of the kids we tried it on
  • up to 20% overhang of the base is permitted in all modes
  • cover is easily removable and machine washable


  • the tether length (required when forward-facing) might be too short in some vehicles; call Evenflo for a tether extender.
  • the harness is not removable or replaceable (potentially a concern if your child is really, um, leaky)
  • not ideal for tight seating scenarios as the Symphony is on the wider side.
  • Due to its width and height it will be challenging for smaller booster riders to reach down and around to buckle.

Thank you to Evenflo for providing this seat for review – but all opinions are our own.

Now we’d like to send this seat out to one of you! The only requirement is that the seat must be destined to a location where it will be used by more than one person. Maybe Grampa wants a seat in his car for when the kiddos visit? Maybe you’re a daycare provider and would enjoy the flexibility of quickly and easily adjusting a seat for multiple kids? Tell us! And then maybe you want to meet up with a tech near you to learn to install it like a pro!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

A fantastic new option in high capacity infant-style seats snuck onto the shelves recently, but we’re about to blow its cover. Because we LOVE it, and we’re here to tell you why.

Introducing the Evenflo Embrace 35, available at Walmart for $140.  This is a rear-facing only infant-style seat with stay-in-car base and removable carrier. It is meant for children who are between 4-35lbs and 17-30″ tall.

You know us – we like to chatter on about fit-to-child and fit-to-vehicle and show you lots of pictures of same. But let’s start with the highlights:

  • Exceptionally good fit on low birth weight babies. Expecting multiples? Unexpectedly find yourself with a preemie? The Embrace is a very good bet, and readily available on your local Walmart shelf.
  • Long-lasting specs: the average child will fit until 30″ tall, and with most seats on the market it’s the height limit that will be reached well before weight.
  • Easy to use and lightweight. It’s simple and straightforward with some ease of use features often found on higher end seats.

Now for the nitty gritty, the detailed analysis you know we will always provide.

Fit to Vehicle:
The Embrace installed quickly and easily in the test cars we put it in. We tried it with lower anchors, with seat belt, and without the base. We’re quite good at it of course – but it’s straightforward and there’s nothing tricky to contend with.

03 Honda Civic – front seats all the way back!



03 Honda Odyssey – front seats all the way back again.IMG_7040


3rd row of the same Odyssey – the 2nd row slides forward enough to leave ample room for the Embrace.IMG_7043


03 Civic installed baseless – so much room you could have a party in there.

embrace baseless

03 Civic behind the passenger, with the driver’s seat all the way back for reference. If this seat is installed behind a vehicle seat (i.e. not in the middle) you must leave 1.5″ of clearance between the top of the car seat shell and the vehicle seat. Even so, plenty of room in the front for my 5’8″ self.20150410_154932_resized


The Embrace (and many other Evenflo seats) now come with these nifty little additions.  Evenflo calls the little plastic guide a LATCH Guide but they are also generically known as funnel guides. They make it easier to quickly secure a premium connector onto a buried lower anchor. Photo on the left is what the seat bight looks like. The anchor is there but you have to dig for it. Photo on the right is with the LATCH Guide in place, enabling very quick access to the lower anchors. You won’t need them on vehicles with exposed lower anchors, and should not use them with simple hook-style connectors (you’ll never get them out again) but this is a very nice option for those of you with Evenflo seats who move your seats often.

20150410_154340_resized 20150410_154426_resized


Another handy feature that aids in successful installation is the recline indicator, easily visible on the base. You want to make sure it’s all in the green, always. For a newborn recline it as much as possible while still staying green; this will protect the airway and prevent chin to chest head flop. Use the built-in three-position recline adjustment on the base, or a rolled towel if needed to achieve the needed positioning.



Perhaps you’ve heard that only a certain amount of a car seat can overhang a vehicle seat? For most seats no more than 20% can hang over the edge. Some don’t allow any at all. We expect the Embrace to be a good bet on shallow vehicle seats such as extended cabs because it’s quite compact.



Fit to Child:

The Embrace is a a spectacular fit on very small babies and should be a go-to option for those needing to fit a low birth weight baby. There are two important steps that need to be done to ensure the harness is adjusted properly.

1. Shorten the harness and route it properly onto the splitter plate. The manual describes this but here is a photo showing the proper orientation of the excess length.

embrace splitter plate


2. Shorten the crotch buckle to best position it for baby, which will also further shorten the harness. This means you can tighten it sufficiently for a wee one. There are special routing instructions for how to do it, so check the manual carefully.



Overall fit features:

The Embrace has three harness heights (the lowest is around 5.5-6″), and four crotch buckle positions (including the special newborn position as described above).  The harness length is both short enough and long enough, meaning it fits properly at both ends of the spectrum. The harness adjuster is smooth and easy, and the cover is well-padded with energy-absorbing foam.  Handle positioning is smooth – no fighting with release buttons, and must be in ant-rebound position toward baby’s feet at all times while driving.

This is Lucy, my small newborn tester. The harness is adjusted short and on the lowest setting, and the crotch buckle is set for a newborn, and I still have room to tighten the harness further. The included head pillow is optional but fills the interior of the car seat nicely.



I got to hang out with not one but two adorable babies to model this seat. Babe on the left is about 11lbs, 8 weeks old, and easily on the 2nd harness position already. Mom found the carrier light weight (7.5lbs). Babe on the right is also about 11lbs at 7 weeks old and with her long torso she easily fills out the seat.

20150524_153217_resized 20150414_131333_resized


At the other end of the spectrum we wondered would the seat actually fit a child to the height or weight limit? This 18 month old model is right at the height limit – 30″ – but at only 21lbs she has outgrown it by height. She’s evenly proportioned and has the required 1″ of shell above her head still. Long-torsoed children might outgrow it by that measure before reaching the standing height limit. There was still ample harness length left as well, so a bulkier child would fit too.



Premium Features:

Storage compartments for the buckle tongues to hold them out of the way while loading your squirmy offspring.

buckle storage


Smooth and simple carrier release. Push the top of the release bar in and the carrier can be lifted easily out of the base.



Quick connector with pull release (the red loop) makes for a nice fast uninstall, and works beautifully with the LATCH Guides mentioned above.



Final thoughts:

You get a lot of bang for your buck with the Evenflo Embrace. Lightweight, easy to use and install, with some nice features all in a tidy, compact, well-priced package — it absolutely has earned a place on our favourites list. Big thanks to Evenflo for providing the seat used in this review, but as always out opinions are completely our own. Will it be the perfect seat for you? Maybe! Best to check it out at Walmart, and wherever possible try installing it in your car before committing.


The other day was National Heat Awareness Day. It’s a thing.

The below story was shared with us recently and it we found it really struck a nerve. It just sounds so normal. And because of the normalcy it is terrifying.  Think you could never leave your child in the car and forget? Brace yourself.

I love my children a great deal. But I’ll tell you what — last summer our routine was hubby always dropped our daughter off at the day home. We both had to drive past it on our way to work but he left later than I did so he would take her. Then he was away for 2 months so I had to start taking her. I was 16 weeks pregnant. Working shift work in an understaffed ER. I was sleep deprived and stressed. It was about the 3rd day after he left, 6 am driving to work. My daughter had fallen asleep in the 5 minutes it takes to get to the day home. I was 5 blocks past it before for no reason in particular I remembered I had her. Thank goodness. I have tinted windows. She’s rear-facing. I park on a side street about 5 blocks from the hospital. If she had stayed asleep and I HADN’T suddenly remembered her? I’m quite positive I could have very easily driven to work, parked, walked in and never noticed. And no one would have seen her. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about how differently that day could have gone if whatever random thing that reminded me I had her, hadn’t happened.

Am I bad parent? Am I neglectful? Do I not love my child enough to remember her? No. Absolutely not. I know I’m a kick ass parent thank you very much. But I would never be naive enough to say “I would never do that”. Now my habit is to put my bag in the back seat on the floor behind her seat. Do I value my bag more than my child? Of course not. But when I’m on autopilot my bag is part of that routine., and my child isn’t always.


For some good safety tips visit

For a longer, more thorough read including information from memory researchers, check out this Pulitzer Prize-winning article.


Car seat techs are a funny bunch. For fun we do things like check online stores for sales. Once we found a spectacular deal on Graco MyRides for $88 and several hundred of you bought one – score!


So imagine the frenzy that ensued when this showed up:


Walmart order


That’s right. $3.94 for a car seat that is usually in the neighbourhood of $250.  It’s not our favourite seat because it’s quite large rear-facing at lower weights, and the booster fit isn’t great — but when used properly it’s just as safe as any other seat.


So one tech, intending to donate them all to a seat giveaway program, ordered a whole bunch.


Walmart order2


She was a bit perplexed because the shipping weight on her order confirmation was quite low. She wondered if the order would be canceled due to the obvious error. But who knows. She waited.


And then this showed up at her door.




Obviously 8 car seats would never fit in a box so small. What was inside?  Camels. CAMELS! 8 of them.





What’s a gal to do with eight camels? Why — make camel jokes of course!

Canadian techs chat, learn and support each other in a private group called CCSN, the Canadian Car Seat Network. Too easy.



We wondered how many would fit 3-across in a car.

We wondered if the non-elite version (it was the “elite” version that was on sale for $3.94) lacked any camel humps and was actually a horse.

Want your own $3.94 “car seat?” It’s still here, but sadly out of stock. No camels for you.

Another tech managed to buy one before it sold out online, but she hasn’t received hers yet. We’re all waiting anxiously, wondering if she’ll get a car seat or a camel. Odds are on the camel.

Have a camel joke to tell us…somehow related to car seats? Please, tell us. You’ll make our day.

Update: turns out camels are quite popular on the internet.


Camel statue in China.


Camel crossing sign. Huh.
Camels and their shadows in a stunning National Geographic photograph.

20150414_130615_resizedClek continues to blow us away with exceptionally well-designed and executed products, and the latest addition to their family of funkily-named products (totally a real word) is the “Infant Thingy.”

Not a stand-alone infant seat, the Infant Thingy is an add-on to Clek’s previously reviewed and loved Foonf and Fllo and enables use of either of those seats from birth.  Disclaimer #1: I do not have a newborn of my own anymore. Disclaimer #2: I didn’t drive around with a doll pretending to be my newborn while testing the Infant Thingy although the thought did cross my mind. Not creepy at all, right?

Are you reading this in confusion, wondering how on earth a person is supposed to use an infant/child, aka convertible seat, from birth? Don’t you have to use an infant-style seat instead? No my friends, no you do not. Many choose to, and for those really tiny babies who need a low birth weight seat I would continue to suggest that you do to ensure best fit on the tiniest humans, but for the average 5lb+ newborn do consider a Foonf or Fllo plus Infant Thingy right off the bat.  This means you probably need some kind of baby wearing plan but that’s not a topic we’ll cover here.


20150412_090534_resizedHere’s what you need to properly use an Infant Thingy:

1. An infant, or one on the way, who is between 5-22lbs and 19-33″ tall.

2. A Clek Foonf or Fllo to put said Infant Thingy in.

3. A vehicle in which a Foonf or Fllo properly installs.

4. A strong desire to say fun-sounding words like Foonf, Fllo, and Thingy.





The Infant Thingy comes only in black, but it coordinates nicely with all of the colours I had handy to contrast it with. There are a few solids and prints missing from this spread – see the full range for Fllo and Foonf.

Tokidoki Infant Thingy 20150412_111153_resized 20150415_123154_resized 20150415_124044_resized 20150412_090314_resized


Some important things to note:

  • 2015 models of Foonf and Fllo will ship with an extra set of lower harness slots (6 instead of 5), positioned just at the top edge of the Infant Thingy when installed in the seat (all seats pictured here are older and have only 5). Some seats, produced during the transition phase, might have an extra slot in the shell of the seat but not in the fabric cover. That’s okay, just use the lowest slot apparent in the cover.
  • 2014 and 2013 seats can still be used with the Infant Thingy, it just means the harness will fit the baby a bit differently, and that’s okay too.


  • The long-standing rule that when rear-facing the harness must come from at or BELOW the child’s shoulders is tossed out the window when using the Infant Thingy for a very small baby. Clek has assured us that it is absolutely fine to use the Infant Thingy even if baby’s shoulders are lower than the lowest harness position on your seat. For real. Once baby’s shoulders do reach that level though we revert back to AT or BELOW for choosing which harness slot to use.

When using the Infant Thingy the manual for it trumps the manual for the seat, such as the instructions for harness position as above. If there is a point of confusion Clek’s fabulous customer service team is always available to answer your questions.


When using any seat it’s extremely important to make sure you’re reclining it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For newborns it’s absolutely critical to make sure you’ve reclined the seat as much as is allowed to protect the baby’s airway.  Thankfully both Foonf and Fllo are reasonably compact even when at the most reclined level. The car seat head rest is removed when using the upper head support attachment piece of the Infant Thingy, because that’s what the instructions say to do.


When I first began putting the Infant Thingy into my Foonf (shown in pink in all photos here) I realized that if you don’t read the manual you’re going to probably make some errors.  Not that it’s complicated – not at all – but don’t think it’s just some comfy fluff to pad your baby’s derriere. Like all things car seat reading the manual is really important.

You need to put the head support pad on right way up. If you do it upside down it will gape and not sit nicely at all, possibly compromising baby’s airway. Simple to fix though – pop the plastic tabs back through the harness slot and flip it around.