Pros: As a five-point harness seat, still recommended by Consumer Reports
Cons: Unsafe and not recommended as a booster seat. As a five-point, you'll find better seats
You mean its not safe?
Whyd they make it then?
These were the questions asked by my five-year-old son when we found out our car seat was no longer recommended by Consumer Reports. I thought the second question was a good one and, an even better one, why would a company continue to market an unsafe product for children. Lets step back to the day before my son bewilderedly wondered why a company would make a car seat that was unsafe for a child and talk about my quest for the perfect car seat.
Epinions is a wonderful site to really look up what people think about their stuff. However, I also know that when it comes to safety, I always check several sources before making a decision especially on something as important as a car seat.
In the United States, an average of 6 children 0-14 years old were killed and 721 were injured every day in motor vehicle crashes during 2002*
Maybe my concern over car seats goes back to the time I held a young girl as she died after being thrown from a vehicle. I must admit, every time I hear of an accident in which a child was involved, I see her young face and feel the intense-squeeze of her hand as she fought to live. The thought of my child or any other child dying this way is an especially tragic one since the proper use of a safety seat decreases infant fatalities by 71% and toddler (ages 1-4) deaths by 54%.
How I discovered the Eddie Bauer High Back Booster is defective
Now that the time has come to put my infant daughter in a new car seat, I immediately began by checking the most recent car seat recommendations. My usual plan of attack is to look at the Consumer Reports site, check several car seat safety sites and then look at what the wonderful world of Epinions has to say. Imagine my surprise and dismay when the very first site I visited, Consumer Reports stated that my sons Cosco Eddie Bauer High Back Booster was not recommended as a booster when child's size requires use of shoulder-belt guide. Several other booster models were simply given a use these models with care when child's size requires use of shoulder-belt guide in booster mode but our model was given the rather pert not recommended leading me to believe this is more of a serious problem with this model.
My call to Cosco about this seat
After finding out that the seat, a seat I bought because of its high ratings, was no longer safe for my son, I gave Cosco a call. I was put through to a live voice within four minutes of calling which is always a nice surprise. After getting the representative on the phone, I explained my situation. When I mentioned that Consumer Reports did not recommend the Eddie Bauer High Back Booster as a booster because the shoulder-belt guide did not perform properly, well, you can imagine, the Coscos representative was shocked! She couldnt believe they wouldnt recommend this wildly popular model. She wanted to know why it wasnt recommended so I told her that I did a little research and that, in fact, tests showed that the shoulder-belt guide could cause the belt to jam in a crash and that the jammed guide could cause the belt to have too much slack allowing the child to slide out under the belt Now, go figure, I was skeptical that this representative, who was very friendly, had no idea about this problem since I found complaints all over the web about this very thing and the fact that Cosco has since resolved the problem with the release of the more expensive Summit. After she gathered I wasnt buying the youre the only one not to be happy with this wonderful car seat routine, she offered to send me instructions on how to destroy the seat and theyd refund my money. I no longer have the receipt, so she said theyd only refund about 70% but after having this seat almost a year, I feel that is more than generous. I would have to send in a 6x6 swatch of the fabric, the straps cut up and the model tag to receive that check
The ratings for this seat when not used as a booster
This seat is considered much safer when used with the five-point harness system instead of as a booster. Consumer Reports states that this seat has an excellent rating in the way it fits to the vehicle and a very good rating in crash protection. Ease of Use earns this seat merely a good rating but when you find a seat that is at least good in all of the categories, that seat is worth looking into. However, during my call, I also managed to learn that the five-point harness straps are too flimsy and they receive a lot of calls asking for straps that dont twist as easily. They will send replacement straps that are a bit stiffer (and safer). Also, there has been a recall with the seat citing a label incorrectly stating this seat is to be used in the forward-facing position for children under the age of one when in fact, they should be at least one year old.
The Cosco Eddie Bauer High Back Booster Seat
I wanted to share what I feel could be a very serious defect with this seat before I actually told you about the seat itself. I feel safety should always be of utmost concern. Although marketed as a booster, as stated previously, this seat can be used as a front-facing car seat by children between the weights of 22 and 40 lbs. This car seat, as the name suggests, has a high back to cushion and protect the head in event of an impact.
What my son likes about this car seat
After researching boosters, I took my son to several different stores to try out the seats. We take a number of extended trips throughout the year and I wanted him to be comfortable. I suspect he chose the Eddie Bauer High Back Booster as his favorite because of the cup holder and side mesh pouch in which he could hold his valuables (i.e. snacks and Rescue Heroes paraphernalia). He also liked the padded armrests, which were a little more comfortable for him than his other seat.
What I liked about this car seat
Remembering that at the time of purchase, I thought this was a safe seat, I liked that my son liked this seat so much. He had complaints about the other seats he tried and this was the first one he found to his liking. I liked the Hamilton print, which is navy blue and beige. My son eats a lot of snacks in his car and I wanted a forgiving car seat that would camouflage the dirt and crumbs. And, because of the crumbs and dirt, I like that the cover comes off fairly easy and is machine washable. Other than the smart print, I havent found much else to heartily recommend about this seat.
What I did not like about this car seat
My son loved the cup holder but once we put my daughters infant carrier in the car, his cup holder no longer fit since it could only be used on one side because of the door. The seat is actually not that comfortable on long trips. Cosco skimped on the padding. Even before knowing about the shoulder strap defect, I didnt care for the slots (of which there are three on each side for various stages of growth). At times the shoulder belt would come completely out of the slot and at other times it would get caught (and now I know why). Also, our seatbelts automatically retract and lock and sometimes theyd retract and get caught under and over the arm of this seat. When these seat belts lock, you have to fully retract the belt to loosen it again, which, in these instances, required wrestling this seat out of the car, uttering a few choice words and then fitting this seat back into the car. Also, this seat comes with an attachable pillow for the head, which my son said is very uncomfortable and causes his head to jut forward at an awkward angle. Also, although we havent used this as a five-point, you only have two options for the height of the shoulder harness straps. Perhaps this is standard on many seats but I think three positions would allow for more growth and flexibility.
Ive already mentioned a number of the Eddie Bauer High Back Booster features but let me list them for you:
- five point harness for 22-40 lbs
- belt-positioning booster for 30-80 lbs
- seat weighs approximately 12 lbs
- mesh pouch for storage
- removable cup and snack holder
- latch-equipped for 22-40 lbs only
- attachable pillow
My final thoughts on this seat
We are still pondering whether well use this seat for our littlest one or destroy the seat and get the refund (all opinions are certainly welcome at this point). We have been told that if we remain vigilant and keep tightening the shoulder belt that this seat can still be used as a booster. But, lets be honest, just during normal movement, the belt is going to slacken and I cannot keep retightening it while driving. Personally, I hate the thought of waste but my sons safety comes first. Murphys law would probably state that any accident would surely happen while that seat belt was slack.
Personally, I think if youre looking for a booster seat, keep looking. If youre looking for a five-point harness forward-facing seat, truth be told, youll find better seats. For that reason, I am giving this model a fairly low rating and wouldnt recommend you buy the Eddie Bauer High Back Booster. Our childrens safety comes first.
* taken from the Traffic Safety Facts 2002 Bulletin put out by the Department of Transportations National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Consumer Reports Car Seat Ratings:
Unfortunately, the link is too long but if you go to the Consumer Reports page at http://www.consumerreports.org/ and type in "car seats" in the search engine, the first report shows their most recent results. If you cannot find the page, please email me and I'll send you the proper link.
NHTSAs Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings:
Cosco Recall of the High Rise Booster Seats:
If you already have this seat and would like to contact Cosco, the number is 1-800-544-1108