Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Is It Ever Okay To Leave A Child Alone In A Car?

On March 20, 2014, Shanesha Taylor had a job interview, after years of scraping by (and not scraping by) on low-paying retail jobs and going from house to house with her three children because she couldn't afford her rent. But when she arrived at the baby-sitter's house to drop off her two-year-old and six-month-old babies, the baby-sitter wasn't there. Stuck in a difficult position, Ms. Taylor had to make a quick decision about what to do with her children while she interviewed for this job. It was a job she was sure she would get. It paid well and would open the door to a much better future for herself and her kids. In a last, desperate move, she parked in the shade, left the fan running in the car, and went into the 70-minute job interview while her babies slept in the car.

Even her protective measures weren't enough to keep the car from heating up in the early spring Arizona sun, and her babies woke up and started crying. A passerby heard the crying and called the police. The children were hot but unharmed, and when Ms. Taylor came out of the office building, feeling great about the interview and her prospects for a better life, she found her car surrounded by police and her babies already on their way to the hospital to be assessed. She was arrested and charged with felony child abuse.

Her story hit the internet when her mug shot, with tears streaming down her face, went viral. As always, people lined up to take sides. Ms. Taylor became the poster child for poverty in the U.S., the difficulty of getting out of the cycle of homelessness and unemployment, and highlighting what's wrong with the "system," especially for women and minorities. (Ms. Taylor is African-American.) Money was quickly raised both for her bail and for her to find a home, and a petition was started to ask the prosecutor to use his discretion to drop the charges against her. "It's not like she left them alone to go party or buy drugs!", many commented. "She was going to JOB INTERVIEW!" On the other hand, plenty of commenters took the other side, that she made a very irresponsible decision to leave her kids alone for over an hour in a car, that they could have died in the hot sun, or been kidnapped, or her car could have been stolen, and what was she going to do about childcare if she did get the job? Some said she should have called to reschedule the interview, or taken the boys in with her and explain her dilemma, or taken them to a family member to be cared for. Obviously, whichever decision she made could have had unfortunate repercussions for her or her children, but the decision she ultimately made has certainly caused her pain and heartache and cost her both the job and her children. Thankfully, her sons are safe, unharmed, and staying with family until her case is decided.

Two years ago, Kim Brooks was in a hurry to catch a flight after a visit to her parents' home. She had two hours to get herself and her four-year-old packed up and to the airport, but she needed to run in to the store to grab headphones for her son to use on the plane. He insisted on coming with her, though she would have preferred to leave him at his grandparents' house while she ran the quick errand. Without time to argue, she let him come along, but he balked when they got to the store. He wanted to wait in the car playing with the iPad while she went in. She assessed the situation. It was cloudy and 50 degrees. There was no chance that her car would get hot, nor was her son in danger of freezing. She knew it would take her five minutes to run in and get the headphones, and she was stressed and rushing and didn't want to deal with a tantruming four-year-old. So she let him stay in the car for a few minutes, playing happily on the iPad, while she popped in to the store. When she came back, her son was still sitting happily, and they rushed off to the airport and flew home.

When they got home, there was a call from her parents saying that police were in their driveway. Apparently a bystander had videoed Ms. Brooks leaving her child in the car and running in to the store. After she had already left, this woman called the police, who used the license plate on the van (her parents' car) to track down her parents. What followed was a two-year nightmare of legal battles, court dates, and eventually conviction on a misdemeanor for contributing to the delinquency of a child. She did community service. Her child was frightened of the police, worried that he'd be taken away or that she would be, all for five minutes in a car parked in front of a store.

One freezing day a few winters ago, Aaron Gouveia went to the supermarket. He didn't usually have the baby with him on Wednesdays, but this Wednesday, the relative who usually cared for the baby wasn't available, so Mr. Gouveia carted the baby along with him. Only, he forgot that the baby was in the car and went in to the store. It was only because he had left his shopping list that he went back out to the car, and when he got there, he saw his son sitting in his car seat. "...a missing grocery list was the only thing that prevented me and my son from becoming a headline," Mr. Gouveia writes. Thankfully, neither father nor son was harmed by this frightening event.

These three stories have made the rounds on Facebook and were published in major media outlets recently. Reports about kids being left in cars, either intentionally or accidentally, emerge every spring and summer, as we hear of one, two, a dozen kids overheating to death in cars. According to, an average of 38 children die in hot cars each year in the United States. (It happens in other countries, too.) That is both a very small and a very large number. Another way to look at it is, about every 10 days, a child dies from being left in a hot car. Every 10 days. And this number doesn't take into account the (probably very large) number of kids who are briefly forgotten, like Mr. Gouveia's son, and unharmed, or intentionally left in a relatively safe environment, like Ms. Brooks' son, and unharmed, or intentionally left in a potentially dangerous situation but rescued before tragedy could strike, like Ms. Taylor's sons.

Ms. Taylor's and Ms. Brooks' stories, especially, speak to me. We can go on all day about how to avoid forgetting your child in the car. I have written on this topic, as have numerous other bloggers recently. We can educate about how quickly cars heat up, discuss the symptoms of heatstroke and hyperthermia, and ask that if you notice a child left alone in the car, you do something to help.

But here's where it gets tricky. How do we decide when a child needs help and when he doesn't? How do we decide when our phone call or intervention is truly saving a life and when it's causing more turmoil than not interfering would have? How do we know whether that child was forgotten or intentionally left? How do we know whether the parent is being neglectful or has simply decided that, in this instance, the child is safe enough alone for five minutes? 

I never want to be a busybody. I never want to assume that another parent is wrong. I never want to interfere. But I also don't want to see babies dying in cars because they were genuinely forgotten or neglectfully abandoned. 

Some would say that if you ever, under any circumstance, see a baby alone in a car, you should immediately call the police. Others might say you should hang around for five minutes and see if a parent returns, or see if you can find the caregiver. Some might stand beside the car and wait for an adult to return. Some might assess the situation - Where is the car? Is it a hot or freezing cold day? Is the child really at risk? - and make a decision accordingly.

I think there are clear circumstances where a call to 911 is warranted. If it's especially hot or cold, if the child is clearly in distress (sweaty, crying or unresponsive), and especially if the car is parked somewhere that is unlikely to be a quick errand, it is probably best to err on the side of caution and make that call. After all, that could very well be the call that saves that child's life. For example, a car parked at a private office building probably belongs to someone who works there, whereas a car parked in front of a grocery store means that the adult is most likely just quickly running in to grab something. If you happen to know that the car has been parked there for a long time, or if you see that the child in the car appears to be in distress, then a call to 911 is probably wise. On the other hand, if the child is not really in peril - it's not sunny or hot or especially cold, the child looks comfortable, the car is right in front of the store, you saw the parent go in and wait a few minutes and see them come back out - your call to 911 might just cause the family more problems than they would have had if you'd just left them alone, as in Ms. Brooks' case.

It can be tough to know what constitutes neglect. How old is old enough to be left alone in a car? In a house? To walk home from school? How young is too young to walk over to the neighbor's house unaccompanied? To ride bikes on the sidewalk in front of the house? To play in the backyard unsupervised? 

As for Ms. Taylor's case, her kids were in genuine danger by the time she exited the job interview. Her decision to leave them in the car was made consciously - it wasn't an instance of forgetfulness. She may not have realized how long the interview would take, or how hot the car would get. I personally believe she made the wrong decision, and had she not come out when she did, and had a passerby not called 911, her sons could very well have overheated in that hot car. However, is it felony-level child abuse or simply a case of temporary lapse of judgment? I don't think jailing her and taking her kids away is going to in any way improve her or their lot in life, and surely there is a better solution. But, at the same time, it's important to send the message that, yes, this was a poor decision and her children were on the brink of serious harm.

In Ms. Brooks' case, her child was in no danger for the five minutes she was gone, and whoever took that video and alerted the police after Ms. Brooks had already left was simply wrong. I don't understand behaving that way, interfering in someone else's life like that.

How long is too long for a child to be left intentionally? Is there a difference between five minutes and 10 or 15? Is half an hour too long? An hour? I don't know how you decide something like that. I think a lot depends on the weather conditions, the location, visibility, presence of other families. Is the weather comfortable? Is it a high-crime area? Can the parent likely see the car from wherever they are? It's not something you can paint in black and white.

It is our job as a community of parents to protect all children, but it is also our job to support and honor other parents and their decisions. Kids left alone in cars is a hot topic, and rightly so, because of these 38+ incidents a year, because of stories like Ms. Taylor's, because some people honestly don't know how quickly cars heat up and how hot they can get, and because people don't understand how easy it is to forget that your baby is in the car with you. But we can take it too far. We can ruin a good parent's life by interfering when not necessary. We can cause more problems than we solve when we overstep boundaries and put our judgments on others' parenting choices. 

So, yes, please call for help if you see a child in danger. Please save lives by peeking into empty cars and checking for forgotten children. But please also use discretion and common sense. Is it really a dangerous situation? Is the child likely to overheat or freeze? Does the child appear to be suffering? Is it likely that the caregiver will return to the car shortly? There's no reason to be malicious or holier-than-thou. There's no need to troll parking lots looking to get someone in trouble.

Let's err on the side of kindness, the side of support, the side of looking out for each other. Let's help kids who genuinely need help but not punish parents who may have a different style. Let's assume a child's parent made the same risk assessment we did and made their decision based on good intentions, not ignorance or neglect.

I hope that one day, if my child is truly in trouble when I'm not there to help, some kind stranger will know the right thing to do and help my son. And I hope that one day, if I'm in a position to save a child, I will know the right thing to do to help someone else's son. And at the same time, I hope others give me the benefit of the doubt if I make a decision different from what they might have done and not jump to conclusions about my fitness as a parent.

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Summer Camp" at Home

As you probably know, I'm a work-at/from-home mom (WAHM). This means my days are filled with a combination of childcare, school and activity schedules, and my own paid work (and my blogging and videos, of course!). With school out, I was worried that the kids would end up spending eight hours a day watching TV and playing with their tablets - neither healthy nor desirable. When they're on screens, I find, they're generally lazier: plates and garbage hang around in the living room, they stay in their pajamas until lunch time, the house somehow ends up being messier and dirtier than usual even though they haven't done anything. On top of that, they tend to be more rude to me and to each other and are less inclined to help me or each other out with things. The reason I lean heavily on screens, though, is it does keep them busy without me so I can work. It's a difficult trade-off.

So, I knew I needed to come up with a plan for the summer that allowed for screens and relaxation, without going overboard, but also allowed for me to work. Sending them to camp for any length of time is not financially feasible, and since I am at home, we don't need paid childcare, it seemed the most reasonable thing to do was to turn the house into a mini-summer camp for them.

The main take-away I had from perusing preschool calendars and summer camp schedules is themes. Either by day or by week, there are activities that are specific to certain days. Rather than just being open-ended, the days are structured in a way that gives some direction to what they should be doing today and what they can look forward to tomorrow.

The flip side of that is knowing that (a) I am not a camp director and do not want to be needed for entertainment all day long (they should be able to occupy themselves for the most part), and (b) I'm not that good at setting up and taking down activities and I don't like big messes that have to be cleaned up. So I had to find a middle ground of sorts.

I spent some time coming up with a weekly schedule that incorporated screen time under clear limits along with some new and different but self-directed activities. Then I played around in Excel to make this calendar:

(click to see full size)

If you can't see the picture, basically Mondays are art-themed, so I'll have art supplies available that aren't normally out. I'll put down a plastic tablecloth on the floor so they can do watercolors and Play-Doh without making a big mess all over the house. Tuesdays is "unlimited screens," except for mid-day when we can go out and get lunch, run errands, and so forth. It's important to break up the day somehow for me as much as for them. Wednesdays is for outdoor play. If I can't make them go outside every day, at least one day a week they'll have to go out, and they'll have some special toys to play with only on Wednesdays. Thursdays are "spread out and build." We'll move the couches and give them space to build train tracks and Lego and such. And then Friday is chores. They'll clean up from the week, help me with laundry and dishes, and as long as they get their assigned tasks done, I'll allow screens otherwise.

The idea is that each day has a theme, but you can also choose to do something else that day, and I've made some suggestions so they're not flailing around randomly. But I'm also not going to run structured games or schedule activities, so I'll give them ideas and leave them to it. Rather than trying to regulate screen time by the amount of time they spend on screens (because there's three people doing three different screen-y things at any given moment), I'm scheduling the times they must be off screens. I simply made a general rule that screens are not allowed from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. except on Tuesdays (unlimited screen day). The reason for this is that they can get up in the morning, turn on the TV, relax themselves into the day, and leave me and my husband alone so we can get up and ready. Then the screens go off approximately after breakfast and they have other activities to choose from, both general activities that are available all the time and specific activities that we'll take out once a week so they stay novel. Then in the afternoon, they can start winding down again, watch TV while I get dinner ready, and so on. 

A secondary goal is to have them learn how to entertain themselves without needing screens all the time!

Figuring that summer camp and/or paid childcare would cost something like $200-300 per week, per child, I decided that spending a couple hundred dollars once to get them some new toys and activities for the summer was both reasonable and justified. I can tell them to go outside and play, but if they don't have even a ball to toss around, it's not really fair of me to say, "Go entertain yourselves." 

So we went to Target and explored the toys section and the outdoor activities section and picked out some neat stuff. We got Play-Doh and markers and watercolors and paper and a Spirograph for Art Day. We got a jump rope and a baseball mitt and ball and sidewalk chalk and bubbles and water guns for Outdoor Play Day. I got them a new Lego set for Spread Out And Build Day (they already have tons of building stuff). 

So far, they've made kind of a muddle of it, wanting to try out all their new toys and activities. But I'm keeping some things aside so they'll actually be interesting when the themed day arrives. If they've been doing Play-Doh every day, then Monday won't be special. If they play with water guns every day, then Wednesday won't be special. 

At least, that's the idea.

I'll update later in the summer about how well this is working. It's been up and down so far, but I like having a plan so that I can keep coming back to, "Today is outside day. Go outside and play" or whatever, rather than being arbitrary about what they should be doing.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Did I Make Tonight? Indian Style Tofu and Vegetables

Here's a great example of, "I found a recipe that looked good, but I didn't really follow it." I was looking for something new to do with tofu, since I had four blocks of it in my refrigerator, and my son liked the sound of this "Indian spiced peas with tofu" we found. It didn't sound like it would be enough for everyone, and I didn't have exactly the right ingredients, so I used it as a jumping-off point and created my own dish around it. The method below is what we ended up doing.

One thing I need to remind you of is that I rarely actually measure spices and whatnot. I eyeball it until it looks/tastes right. So any measurements I give you are approximate and you can adjust according to your taste and the quantity of food you're making. Don't be afraid to experiment. You might sometimes over- or under-salt, or it might be too spicy or too bland, but you'll get a feel for how much of a given spice or herb you like, and then you'll get it right every time.

  • Olive or canola oil
  • One block of extra firm tofu
  • Two tbsp corn starch
  • One 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • Bag of frozen peas (16-ounce)
  • Half a bag of frozen corn (so, like half a cup of corn?)
  • Three to four tbsp curry powder (you can find curry powder in the spices section of your grocery store)
  • One to two cups white long-grain rice and twice as much water
  • One medium-sized onion (any kind - yellow is best), sliced (make half-moons and separate the layers)
  • Ginger - about 1 tbsp powdered or 1/2 tbsp fresh (minced) - according to taste; if you don't like ginger, leave it out or use less!
  • 1/2 tsp vegetarian powdered soup base (I used Osem brand Onion Soup Base, but mushroom or chicken flavored would also work very well) and about half a cup of water OR half a cup of prepared vegetable stock/broth
  • Large skillet
  • Large pot with lid
  • Stirring spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Juice glass or measuring cup
  • Paper towels
  • Plate
  • Slotted spoon
  • Put about two tablespoons of oil in the skillet and turn the burner up to MEDIUM-HIGH
  • Take tofu out of package and dry well with paper towel. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Put tofu cubes into mixing bowl and sprinkle with corn starch, then toss the tofu in the corn starch to coat
  • When the oil in the skillet is hot, add the tofu and fry until browned on all sides (flip occasionally - about five to 10 minutes). If the tofu doesn't all fit, do it in batches.
  • Slice your onion
  • If using fresh ginger, peel and mince the ginger. 
  • When tofu is browned, remove from skillet with slotted spoon and place on a paper towel on a plate to drain.
  • Add another tablespoon of oil to the hot skillet.
  • Put the sliced onion and the ginger in the skillet along with two to three tablespoons of curry powder. Saute the onion until translucent, about three to five minutes, stirring often
  • Add whole can of tomatoes, including juice, to the skillet. Add half a cup of broth or water. If using water, also add half a teaspoon of soup base (for flavor, optional).
  • Let simmer for 5 minutes, then add in frozen corn and peas and add the tofu back in.
  • Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring often.
While the tofu is browning during the above process, start the rice:
  • Put a tablespoon of oil in the other pot and place on burner on HIGH.
  • When oil is hot, add rice and toast for two to three minutes, stirring often. I added curry powder to the rice for flavor, but this is optional. Do add some salt.
  • For each cup of rice you used, add two cups of water to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, stir, then reduce temperature to LOW and leave it, COVERED, for 20 minutes. (See the Basics article for my rice-cooking method in more detail.)
  • After 20 minutes, all liquid should be absorbed but the rice should be moist. Turn OFF the burner, stir rice with a fork, replace cover, and leave until ready to serve dinner.
Serve the tofu-and-tomato thing over the rice.

We actually also added a bag of Morningstar Farms Grillers Crumbles along with the tofu to increase the volume and protein content. This fed four of us (me and three kids) with more than enough left over for my lunch the next day. You could also use ground beef or chicken in place of or in addition to the tofu. Brown the meat in oil instead of the tofu step, then do the rest the same way.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Product Review: "Lavender Sorbet" Nursing Bra by Cake Lingerie

I am proud to present my first official product review! The people at Cake Lingerie were kind enough to send me one of their nursing bras to review for my audience.*

Often when we think of nursing bras, we imagine plain, even ugly, utilitarian, unsupportive or uncomfortable, or, at best, boring undergarments. Especially for those of us who are more well-endowed, it can be tough to find quality nursing bras that also make us feel good about how we look. Pregnancy and nursing can take a toll on our self-image and our bodies in general. It's nice to be able to wear some nice lingerie that is also functional!

As many of you know, I've been nursing and/or pregnant for over six years, and I've worn a lot of nursing bras in that time. I can tell you up front that this bra from Cake Lingerie is one of my favorites.

Cake Lingerie specializes in maternity and nursing lingerie and sleepwear. The bra I chose to review, the Lavender Sorbet bra, is from their plus-sized line, which offers bras for US sizes 32D through 40M. One thing I've found with Cake Lingerie is that their bras run a little small, so I requested a 36F even though I usually wear a 36E.

My first impressions of the bra and panty set, when I opened the box, were "ooh, pretty." It's really a pretty bra, with lace on the sides, bows, and cute little button accents. The material is soft and high quality. The shoulder straps are fairly wide and have lace trim as well. There are extra sets of hooks in the back to accommodate your rib cage as it expands with pregnancy and then shrinks back down after giving birth. I appreciate that there are three hooks on a wider band. I prefer three hooks to two.

After getting my initial impressions, I wore the bra all day to see how it performed. I did all my usual activities - sitting at the computer, cooking dinner, walking the kids to the park, nursing in bed, holding the baby.

What I loved: The bra stayed put and was very supportive through all of my adventures of a typical day. The cup can be clasped and unclasped for nursing one-handed. It has a standard nursing bra clasp near the shoulder. The shoulder straps stayed put - I wasn't constantly adjusting them like I am with a couple of my other bras - even when the cup was open for nursing. The shaped cups gave my breasts a uniform look whether they were full of milk just before a feeding or empty of milk just after one, and even when they were a bit lopsided because my son only nursed on one side. I could lie on my side in bed and the breast I wasn't using didn't fall out of the cup. And this bra is pretty. It's very feminine. I love the colors, medium gray and lavender, which are discreet enough to wear under almost any color t-shirt without showing through (except white) but bold enough to feel fun and different.

What I liked: This bra gives almost full coverage while still letting a little cleavage peek through. My breasts felt contained but not constrained. There's no underwire (which is my preference), and the band is nice and wide and sturdy to add support and give shape even without a wire. Even when the cup is open for nursing, the breast is still supported by the band, and the shoulder strap is held in place by an extra piece of fabric over the top of the breast.

What I didn't like: Because of the thickness of the fabric on the bottom of the cups, I felt sweatier in this bra than I'm used to. It wasn't a hot day, but the undersides of my breasts were damp with sweat by mid-afternoon. This bra maybe doesn't breathe as well as a cotton one would. I'd suggest wearing this bra when you want to feel dressed up and sexy - maybe for an evening out - but you may not want to wear it all day long, especially on a hot day. The side panels were high and cut into my armpits a little. It didn't bother me that much, and I got used to it, but I noticed it all the same.

Check out my video review for a closer look at this bra and how it worked out for me:

Thank you, Cake Lingerie, for creating attractive and quality undergarments for pregnant and nursing mothers!

*I was provided with a free product from the company for review, but I was not otherwise compensated in any way.

Check out Cake Lingerie's website to see their catalog and place an order:
Visit Cake Lingerie on Facebook:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Choosing a New Car Seat for My Almost-3-Year-Old

So, I think I need a new car seat.

I'd been doing well for a while, resisting the urge to buy something I didn't really need, browsing without purchasing all the new and wonderful seats that have come out recently. After all, my older two are already in booster seats. We own four convertible car seats (two Graco Nautiluses and two Diono Radians). I couldn't possibly need any more car seats, could I?

But I realized that the Nautilus my third son is using must be close to expiring, because I got it when my second was born, and he's almost 5-and-a-half. I checked the expiration date, and, sure enough, it expires in December of this year! I checked the other one, and it's good until December of next year but would have to be replaced after that, and he will still need a 5-point-harness at that point (he'll be 4 and something and probably not ready for a booster). The baby is using the Radian R100 rear-facing right now, which is good for a long time yet.

The main problem I have with our other Radian (currently hanging out in the garage) is that at some point in the past, our cat peed in it, and after all these years and many cleaning attempts, it still smells of cat pee when it's in a warm car. That suggests to me that the cat pee absorbed into the plastic and foam of the seat, and I worry that it might have compromised the integrity of the materials, or that my cleaning attempts did so. In other words, not only does it make my car smell of ammonia, but it's possible that it's not completely safe, too.

Plus, and this is so trivial and yet matters to me and to the toddler, we really like car seats with integrated cup holders, and the Radians, as much as I like them, don't have cup holders.

The conclusion, then, is that I need to either replace the toddler's car seat or buy the baby a new one and put the toddler back in the Radian.

I've had my eye on the Chicco NextFit, which has great weight and height limits and is supposed to be very easy to install and use. But the $280 price tag is a bit staggering, especially when I don't really need it. The other great option is the new Graco Headwise/Size4Me, which is similar to the NextFit but $100 cheaper. I don't know what makes the NextFit so expensive, but in my understanding the NextFit and the Headwise are very similar in terms of specs and use. The Graco also has integrated cup holders - two of them!

But then I thought, well, if I'm replacing the toddler's seat, since he's already forward-facing, why not just get a new Nautilus, or a similiar harness-to-booster seat, rather than spend money on a convertible seat that I don't need to use rear-facing at all?

The single thing to remember about car seats is this: The safest car seat is the one that is installed correctly, fits well in your car, fits your child, and is used properly every time. There's no magic to it. Whether you have a Clek Foonf (which run about $500) or a Cosco Scenera ($50), if it's not installed properly, if your child is too big or too small for it, or if you don't buckle your child correctly, a Foonf isn't going to keep your child safer than a Scenera will, or any other seat.

I'm not knocking the pricier models at all. Indeed, they do offer ease-of-use and comfort features that do make them "better" in some ways. Because, if the seat is easier to install and easier to use and more comfortable for the child, the chances that it will be used correctly are much higher, and thus your child will be safer in them.

After browsing my options for a while, I've decided to either simply replace the Nautilus that's about to expire with a new Nautilus, or purchase the new Britax Frontier 90.

Now, I've always been very happy with our Nautiluses. I bought a second one, after all, and am considering buying a third. I also recommend it to friends all the time. I personally don't find it difficult to install, although others have said they do find it harder than some other seats they've tried. It's affordably priced, at around $150. My kids have never complained about being uncomfortable and indeed seem to enjoy the throne-like feel. It has arm rests and a cupholder and adjustable head rest. It's really a good, solid seat. It's wide, so it's not so great for 3-across, if you need that. It allows you to use the harness until your child is 65 pounds and then switch to booster mode until 100 pounds. It expires after 6 years, so keep that in mind when considering your purchase.

The Britax is over $100 more, but it has some features I'm very interested in. One is that it's a no-rethread harness, which means you never have to take the straps out and move them up a slot as your child grows. You can raise the harness height on the fly without even taking the seat out. Now, you don't have to adjust the height often, of course, but it's still a nice feature. The other amazing thing about the Frontier is the new "CLICKTIGHT" installation, which makes installing with a seat belt an absolute breeze. And, it can be done one-handed, if some of the videos I've watched can be believed. A one-handed car seat install?! Plus, it has a harness weight limit of 90 pounds, which means even if you have a really big, heavy kid, you can continue to use the harness for a looooong time. And after that, you can use it as a belt-positioning booster until your child is 120 pounds! And, as I'm sure you're wondering, it can be used for 9 years from the manufacture date before expiring. There's a reason this seat is $100 more than the Nautilus. It's not that the Nautilus is a bad choice. It's just that the Frontier does so much more in a similar niche.

I love that companies are acknowledging the desires of parents and recommendations of safety organizations to keep kids harnessed and boostered longer. But older kids need higher weight limits, and Britax has delivered in spades!

I won't be making the purchase for a few weeks yet, but I'll be sure to fill you in on what I end up buying and how it works out for us. I might even have a setup and installation video for you when the time comes!