Two weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the All Baby and Child (ABC) Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. The expo is essentially a convention that allows baby/child product companies from all over the globe to bring their newest, or in some cases, not yet released products to share with retailers and media. This year was an incredibly successful expo with thousands of booths and hundreds of thousands of products on display. While I could write about it for years, I’m going to talk about one small section of the expo today: car seats.
The world of car seats is constantly evolving, especially as the laws change to try to keep up with the crash tests and real world crash scenarios. So this year’s car seat news was pretty spectacular, at least for this car seat enthusiast.
Facetime customer assistance for your Dorel car seat:
First, one of the highlights of my ABC Expo experience was at the Dorel compound, which housed the Safety 1st, Cisco, Maxi Cosi, Eddie Bauer and Disney Baby brands. While I was there, I was able to test out a new service that Dorel is offering to their customers. Cisco, Safety 1st, Eddie Bauer, Maxi-Cosi and Disney Baby car seat owners/users are able to facetime or skype with a CPST at the company headquarters for assistance with car seats. The employee can visually check your installation, help troubleshoot car seat issues and provide other support and assistance. The CPST on the other end has a vehicle seat and car seats on hand so they can demonstrate how the car seat is used rather than just trying to explain verbally. It’s indescribably difficult to help with car seat issues over the phone or email, so this is a brilliant idea and a wonderful way to make use of technology to keep kids safe in the car. The quality of the video was clear and the person on the other end was knowledgeable. I cannot possibly recommend this enough if you own any Dorel seats.
If you have a Dorel seat and are interested in setting up a Skype/Facetime chat, call 800-544-1108
Now, onto the new seats!
I’m going to lead off with the seat that I am most excited about — the Graco Extend2Fit. This is Graco’s first 50 pound rear-facing seat and it has the same amazing height as their other convertible seats. But that’s hardly the exciting part. The number one complaint of anti-extended rear-facing parents is leg room. These parents are concerned about their children having enough space and being comfortable on long trips, and while there are no safety issues associated with legs and extended rear-facing, this seat will help reduce those lingering worries. The Extend2Fit will have a 4-position panel that extends to provide up to 5 inches of extra leg room when rear-facing. It has a six position recline, 18-inch harness height, steel reinforced frame and ten year expiration. I would happily pay hundreds of dollars for this seat, but Graco has once again found a way to keep their price point reasonable, making this seat budget and family-friendly. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands, and my kids’ feet, on this seat.
The Graco Extend2Fit will retail for $199.
Graco has also released a new combination seat onto the market. The Atlas is a forward-facing five point harness and high back booster. It will harness from 22-65 pounds, work as a booster to 100 pounds, and offer two recline positions.
The Graco Atlas is currently available for $129
Tranzitions is another combination seat on the lower end of the price spectrum. It’s compact side to side and should work well in 3 across situations. It will harness to 65 pounds, function 30-100 pounds as a high back booster and 40-100 pounds as a backless booster. The cupholder can be adjusted if side to side space is needed in the car, which is genius, really.
The Graco Tranzitions is currently available at Babies R Us for $109.
Graco TurboBooster LX
While TurboBooster isn’t a new name for Graco, the TurboBooster LX is entirely new and it is fantastic. It comes with a 4 year age minimum for use (yay! Boosters are for big kids!). It doesn’t just have headwings for side impact protection, it also comes with torso wings with true shield technology. Like the Tranzitions, it has a retractable cupholder and LATCH.
The TurboBooster LX will be sold at Babies R Us for $89.99
Safety 1st Grow & Go Air
Safety 1st premiered their Grow & Go seat earlier this year and it is a great 3-in-1 car seat at an amazing price point. The Grow & Go Air is similar to the original except it features the Air Protect Technology that has been used in other Safety 1st seats, throughout and especially in the headwings. Additionally, it replaces the two handle adjuster system with a simple squeeze and lift adjuster.
The Grow & Go Air will be released in December and will retail for $199.
Safety 1st Continuum
I’m thrilled that Safety 1st has come up with a replacement for the Alpha Omega. It’s essentially a lower frills version of the Grow & Go, including less comfort padding and a single cup holder. The seat can be used rear-facing, forward-facing, as a belt positioning booster and it features a much-improved belt fit in booster mode.
The Continuum will retail for $129.
Evenflo Advanced SensorSafe Embrace DLX
This seat won the JPMA Innovation Award, and for good reason. This is an infant seat with a special sensor on the chest clip to alert parents that a child is in the car seat. You plug a receiver into your car’s receiver plug (if you drive a hybrid, you will need to get a special receiver and this will only work with 2008 model year vehicles and newer) and the chest clip transmitter will signal the receiver to play a jingle when the vehicle turns off. It will alert you if the chest clip is unbuckled while the car is in motion, which can be a huge issue. This is an amazing step towards preventing deaths from hyperthermia and I hope it becomes a standard piece of technology throughout the car seat world.
The SensorSafe Embrace DLX is available at Walmart for $149.00
Cybex Aton Cloud Q
Not yet available, but coming in the Spring of 2016, the Cloud Q is a new infant seat in the Aton line that has generated a ton of excitement. It has the same incredible safety features as the Aton 2 and Q, including a load leg (which prevents forward rotation in a crash) and telescopic linear side-impact protection, but it has a special recline feature that is not available in any other seats in their line. The Cloud Q is able to lay flat when out of the car or in a stroller, which provides a much safer position for infants and makes it a fantastic travel system component. If that wasn’t enough, the Cloud Q was the winner of a crash test conducted in June of 2015 in Germany and was the only seat to receive a “very good” rating in safety.
The Cloud Q will retail for $400-450.
Kiddy Evolution Pro
Kiddy is a relatively new brand to the US market and they’ve debuted their first infant seat this past year. The Evolution Pro allows full flat recline when out of the car, 7 different adjustment angles, and a one hand secure system that allows the base to be installed in 5 seconds. And most exciting (to me, at least) is that it will carry kids up to 37 inches, which is significantly longer than almost every infant seat on the market. Since infant seats tend to be pricey, this allows you to get more life from your seat and more bang for your bucks.
The Kiddy Evolution Pro retails for around $400 and can be found on Amazon.
GB Idan Plus
GB, who is owned by the same parent company as Cybex, has taken the Cybex Aton 2 and upgraded it. It features a no-rethread harness, gorgeous color options, and a unique belt path for baseless installation. This seat is gorgeous in person with several nice touches that make it stand out in a crowd of infant seats. It should be available in late spring 2016.
The Idan Plus does not yet have a suggested retail price.
Baby Jogger “City Go”
Baby Jogger is getting into the car seat game with a rear-facing only car seat. It’s an updated version of the Graco SnugRide 35 — Graco and Baby Jogger are part of the same company — which was already a great seat, but now has extra bells and whistles. It features a no-rethread harness, enormous canopy, European belt routing (which allows the seatbelt to be routed around the back of the seat and provides better support in a crash when installed without a base), dual bubble recline windows on the base and a 6 position base. They’ve taken everything good about the SnugRide and made it even better.
The City Go will retail for $159.00
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Flex Booster
This is a new highback booster from Peg Perego and it’s unique for a few reasons. First, it doesn’t have any armrests, which seems unusual, but it makes the seat more compact side to side and easier for buckling. And second, it folds, making it ideal for travel or transitioning between cars. Also, the Viaggio Flex doesn’t just have an adjustable headrest like most boosters, but it also has an adjustable torso section. It has rigid latch connectors, which make installation a breeze and allows the booster to be safely left in the car when unoccupied!
The Viaggio Flex should be released in late spring 2016 and will retail for $299.
Peg Perego Shuttle
Another great upcoming release from Peg Perego is their backless booster, the Shuttle. It will go from 40 to 100 pounds and comes with rigid latch connectors, which like the Flex, make it safe to remain in the car, unbuckled, when unoccupied. It has a shoulder belt guide that retracts like a seatbelt when not in use. It is fully lined with EPS foam and is well padded for boney kid bottoms.
The Shuttle should be released in late spring 2016 and will retail for $99.
Clek, known for their high quality, high weight limit seats, has unveiled a few updates. First, they debuted a new color, Capri, which is a gorgeous turquoise like blue. They also showed a new Tokidoki print that is space themed. The newest Foonf has improved padding throughout the headwings and seat pan and it comes with longer, padded strap covers. And most importantly, they’ve updated their lockoffs. If you have an older Clek and are having issues with the lock offs, call Clek and they’ll put you on a list for new ones! These ones will stay secure in even the toughest seatbelt angles.
GB has updated the Asana 35, which was a great seat, but the fit on tiny infants wasn’t so great due to the sliding harness/headrest adjust system. The new Asana 35 has separate harness and headrest adjustment, which ought to relieve one of the few downsides to an otherwise great product.
Maxi Cosi unveiled a new Pria and Mico with a cover designed by Rachel Zoe. It’s a high end, gorgeous pattern, and will definitely be popular among fashion forward parents. There are several other new patterns that are gorgeous and add an air of fashion to an otherwise drab piece of baby equipment. Even better, Maxi Cosi now has a fantastic program where you can design your own Mico including shell color, fabric and accessory patterns. You can truly personalize your infant seat!
The Cinderella seat got a color overhaul and it looks amazing in person. I am sort of sad that I’m (much) too big to ride in it myself.
Maxi Cosi will be selling separate covers for the Pria 70 and 85. They will retail for between $90 and 110. Maxi Cosi is also producing a sunshade that fits on their Pria models. It has been crash tested with the Prias and is safe for use. It helps safely bridge the gap between the infant seat, with the generous canopy and a typical seat for an older child. The shade will retail for $29.
Britax is debuting two new accessories for their fabulous B-Safe Infant Seat. The B-Warm cover, which helps keep baby warm in the upcoming winter, and the B-Covered. The B-Covered provides protection from the sun, wind, rain and insects all in one. The B-Warm will retail for $49.99 and the B-Covered will retail for $29.99
Clek has joined the seat mat market with their Mat-Thingy. It is approved only with Clek seats and has been crash tested — it’s essentially a thin rubber mat and a cover for the front of the vehicle seat. If you have a Clek seat and are worried about your vehicle seats, this would be a good investment, provided you still get a good installation. It can prolong the life of leather seats and contain potential mess for kids who tend to be messmakers in the car.
The people who brought you the original and still beloved BundleMe have come out with a car seat cover. This year they are releasing a new color for the cover and it’s gorgeous in person. It is a great, and more importantly, safe way to keep baby warm in the car, as it does not go between baby and the harness.
While I could go on and on with even more updates and color releases, I’m going to stop here. 2016 is primed to be an amazing year for child restraints both in terms of technology and fashion and I firmly believe that if things continue the way they are going, parents will feel more confident in their car seat skills.More On