Clek infant-thingy Review

Featuring sleek lines, Crypton fabric, and great colors and patterns, the Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo are trendy, fun seats that appeal to many. With a starting weight limit of 14 lbs. though, these sweet seats cannot be used from birth. With the recently released infant-thingy, an insert that can be used with both the Foonf and Fllo starting at 5 lbs. and 19″, the Clek convertibles are now an option for those who choose to skip the rear facing only seat.

 

Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy

Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy

CSFTL Quick Stats:

Rear facing weight limit: 5-22 lbs.

Rear facing height limit: 19-33″

 

The infant-thingy is covered in the same Crypton fabric, in the color Shadow, that most of the Clek car seats and boosters use. Crypton states, on the Clek website, Crypton fabric “provides permanent protection against stains, moisture and odor-causing bacteria; and are free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.” This fabric on the seats, as well as the infant-thingy, will appeal to those families who are concerned about some flame resistant chemicals used on car seats.

 

Clek Foonf without the headres

Clek Foonf without the headrest

The first step to use the infant-thingy is removing the car seat headrest as the infant-thingy head support and car seat headrest cannot be used at the same time. The Foonf and Fllo both ship with detached headrests, so if the seat was bought before baby was born, just leave the head rest off and save a step if you plan on using both pieces of the infant-thingy. Removing a Clek convertible headrest can be a bit tricky if the Troubleshooting Tool stored on the back of the seat is not available.

Clek Trouble Shooting tool used to remove the headrest is stored on the back of the seat

Clek Troubleshooting Tool (used to remove the headrest) is stored on the back of the seat

 

Once the headrest is removed, add the infant-thingy. The infant-thingy comes in two pieces, the body support and head support. They can be used together or separately depending on child’s size and parental preference.

The bottom piece is easy to put in: simply thread the harnesses into the hip slots on the infant-thingy. When using the infant-thingy, the hip supports need to go between the infant’s hips and harness. This part was easy to miss and the hip supports sometimes tried to slip, so be aware when harnessing baby that it’s done according to the manual.

Clek infant-thingy manual on using the hip supports

Clek infant-thingy manual on using the hip supports

The crotch buckle will need to be threaded through the buckle slot of the body support and then reattach the buckle pad. The buckle pad is required until the child hits 22 pounds; at that point the buckle pad can be removed and the infant-thingy must be removed. When using the body support of the infant-thingy, the closest crotch buckle position to the child must be used. When only using the head support, follow the crotch buckle rules of your Clek convertible seat.

Clek convertible using the infant loops on the harness

Clek convertible using the infant loops on the harness

 

 

 

 

 

Next, thread the harness through the lowest harness slots and attach the harness to the splitter plate using the smaller set of harness loops. The excess harness goes behind the splitter plate, not in front like some seats do, as shown here. This lower harness position will be used until the child’s shoulders are even with the next highest position.

 

 

Head support of Clek infant-thingy attached to the third harness slot above the one in use

Head support of Clek infant-thingy attached to the third harness slot above the one in use

 

The head support of the infant-thingy has plastic clips on the back that are used to attach the support to the seat by threading through the unused harness slots. The head support clips need to be attached to the third set of harness slots above the harness slot currently being used. If the child’s head goes over the top of the head support, the head support may be raised to the next harness position. Once the head is over the top of the head support in its highest position, the head support should be removed and car seat headrest used instead. Remember to add the body support again if the child doesn’t meet the requirements it use the seat without it. The attachment clips in this picture show proper placement as shown in the manual.

 

The bottom harness position of the pre-2015 Clek models is 10.” The 2015 models have an extra lower position, making the lowest 8.” Clek convertibles are unique in that either will be fine for a baby that meets the 5 lbs. and 19″ requirements. Clek does not require the harness to be even with or below the shoulders as long as baby is using the bottom harness position. Other guidelines are the same: harness must pass the pinch test and chest clip needs to be armpit level.

 

Fiona showing the 8inch bottom slots on the Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy in use

Here Fiona showing the 10 inch bottom slots on the Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy in use

This is what the 10″ bottom harness slots look like with Fiona, our newborn Huggable Images doll. She is 7 lbs and the height of an average newborn baby. In the Clek seats with the 8″ slots, the picture is the 10″ version, the harness will just be peeking over the black insert. The harness would still be above Fiona’s shoulders, but not as high. Again, this seat can be used with the bottom harness position above baby’s shoulders per the infant-thingy manual.

 

The rules for using the various portions of the infant-thingy can be a bit confusing. I made a chart to help decide which parts need to be used with the Clek convertibles for infants.

 

Weight Both Pieces Head Support Only Body Support Only Using Car Seat Headrest
Under 11 lbs.  Required No No
11-14 lbs. Optional Required unless child’s head is over the support in highest position Required if head support has been outgrown
Over 14 lbs. but does not meet all requirements to use the seat Optional Required unless child’s head is over the support in highest position Required if head support has been outgrown
Meets all requirements to use the seat Can use until 22 lbs or 33″ or head over the head support Can use until 22 lbs or 33″ or head over the head support Can use until 22 lbs or 33″

 

Fit to Child

Fiona- 7 lbs. newborn using the Clek Foonf with infant-thingy

Fiona- 7 lbs. newborn using the Clek Foonf with infant-thingy

Here is Fiona again, she’s 7 lbs. and average length for a newborn baby. She fits well in the Clek Foonf with the infant-thingy, the harness is tight and the chest clip is on the chest, but the harness is above her shoulders by a good 2″ at least. As she does not yet weigh 11 lbs., the complete infant-thingy must be used.

 

This is Fallon. She just turned one and is a petite 18 lbs. and 28.5″. She is the perfect size to use the Clek Fllo any way she wants. She can also use the body support with the car seat headrest or the head support only and no body support. She could also use the complete infant-thingy as she is under the height and weight limit and her head is below the top of the head support. She fit great all three ways even though she too was not impressed with only five harness slots!

Clek Fllo with Fallon (12 mos., 18 lbs. and 28.5 inches) showing the various ways to use the infant-thingy

Clek Fllo with Fallon (12 mos., 18 lbs. and 28.5 inches) showing the various ways to use the infant-thingy

With the infant-thingy, the Foonf and Fllo will be great choices for most babies. The sixth slot on most 2015 models of the Clek Foonf and Fllo offer more fit options, but the five slot seat still works well with the infant-thingy. You can find the infant-thingy on Amazon.com for $69.99.

Britax Boulevard Review

Britax is changing things up with their newest seats, using new labeling and a back to basics approach. Britax kindly provided us a new Britax Boulevard (also known as G4.1) so we could review these fresh features and ideas.  Check out what we’ve found out about their most recent line of convertible car seats.

Britax Boulevard installed

Britax Boulevard installed

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Rear facing weight range: 5-40 lbs
  • Rear facing height range: 49″ or less
  • Forward facing weight range: 20-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 49″ or less
  • Lowest harness position: 7″ (with insert), 8.5″ (without insert)
  • Highest harness position: 17″
  • Expiration: 7 years
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 40 lbs rear facing, 50 lbs forward facing
  • Rear facing – child weight of 40 lbs
  • Forward facing- child weight of 50 lbs

 

 

 

Features

  • Seat belt lock off both rear and forward facing
  • 2 adjustable crotch strap positions measuring 5″ and 7″
  • 3 adjustable recline settings – 1 rear facing, 2 forward facing
  • Push button lower anchor connectors
  • No rethread harness (10 positions)
  • Anti rebound bar available to purchase separately via Britax (not to be used with the rear facing tether)
  • Rear face tethering available on certain model dates, if stated in the user manual (not to be used with the anti rebound bar)
  • Positioning pillow for children up to 22 lbs
  • Push button lower anchor connectors

Unique Features

Britax Boulevard lock offs

Britax Boulevard lock offs

 

Color coded seat belt lock offs for both rear and forward facing make seat belt installation very user-friendly. Always use the lock off closest to your seat belt buckle.

 

 

Britax Boulevard two position crotch strap

Britax Boulevard two position crotch strap

 

Two adjustable crotch strap positions measuring 5″ and 7″ allow for plenty of room for both smaller and larger children. Britax states in their manual that for rear facing the strap needs to be in the inner slot when installing via seat belt and the slot closest to but not under the child when installing via lower anchors.  For forward facing, the crotch strap needs to be in the outer slot for children over 30 lbs. You also use the outer slot if the buckle is under the child when using the inner slot.

 

Britax Boulevard 3 adjustable recline positions

Britax Boulevard has 3 recline positions

 

Three adjustable recline positions make it easy to get installed at the correct angle rear facing. Only position 3 (fully reclined) can be used rear facing. Position 1 or 2 can be used forward facing, but position 1 has to be used for children over 40 lbs when installing via lap belt only.

 

Britax Boulevard push button lower anchor connectors and storage

Britax Boulevard push button lower anchor connectors and storage

 

 

Push button lower anchor connectors make lower anchor installation a breeze.  Just push connector on to the lower anchor and pull tight.  The storage area of the lower anchors are on the back of the seat base.  They clip in nicely for out of the way storage when installing via seat belt.

 

 

 

Britax Boulevard harness positions

Britax Boulevard harness positions

 

No rethread harness (10 positions) allows the caregiver to move the harness without uninstalling the seat and rethreading the harness.

 

 

 

 

Britax Boulevard anti rebound bar

Britax Boulevard anti rebound bar

 

Anti rebound bar is available to purchase separately via Britax (not to be used with the rear facing tether).  This is a nice add-on that Britax has recently added to their online store.  This will be discussed a bit more in the updated features section of the review.

 

 

Britax Boulevard rear face tether

Britax Boulevard rear facing tether

 

Rear facing tether available on certain model dates, if stated in the user manual (not to be used with the anti rebound bar).  Some older models that still allow rear face tethering come with a metal d-ring.  Newer models that still allow it will come with a loop on either end of a strap.  The instruction manual shows how to use the 2 looped strap.

 

 

Britax Boulevard infant positioning pillow

Britax Boulevard infant positioning pillow

 

 

Infant positioning pillow for infants up to 22 lbs.  This insert is required for children up to 22 lbs, at which point, it needs to be removed.  This helps bump small children up so their shoulders reach the bottom harness position.

 

 

Updated features

Britax has taken a back to basics approach with their newest convertibles and updated several features to make them more user-friendly.

Britax Boulevard descriptive wording

Britax Boulevard descriptive wording

 

Descriptive names for safety features, updated logos and boxes

Britax has moved away from acronyms to spelling out the full features. HUGS, for example, are now referred to as impact absorbing chest pads.  They’ve updated their labels and their boxes to match this change. Britax is also moving away from the white boxes to a brown box that doesn’t show the wear and tear a box goes through in shipping.

 

Britax Boulevard red adjustment levers

Britax Boulevard red adjustment levers

 

Different colored adjustment levels

The recline and head support adjustment levers have also switched from grey to red to make them easier to find and thus more user-friendly.

 

Britax Boulevard lower anchor limits

Britax Boulevard lower anchor limits

 

 

Lower Anchor limits

As of February 2014, car seats must have labels stating the child’s weight limit for the use of lower anchors.  The new Britax seats have these updated labels with the current lower anchor limits clearly listed on the side for both rear facing and forward facing.

Britax Boulevard tether and anti rebound bar

Britax Boulevard tether and anti rebound bar

Tethers and Anti rebound bar

Britax has shortened their tether straps, but do offer a tether extension if needed.  The biggest change they’ve instituted is moving away from a rear facing tether to an anti rebound bar (ARB).  The ARB is available separately via Britax.com.   Many vehicles no longer allow seats to tether rear facing due to occupant detection systems, so Britax has decided the ARB is an easy fix: no more having to figure out if your vehicle allows a rear facing tether or not.  This is a rolling change to the non ClickTight convertibles, so some will still allow you to tether while rear facing; others will not.  If your manual allows it, please make sure to check with your vehicle manufacturer to make sure they allow it as well.

Installation

Rear facing

  • Lower anchor weight limit:
    • Rear facing – child weight of 40 lbs
Britax Boulevard with lower anchor and seat belt installations

Britax Boulevard with lower anchor and seat belt installations

 

Britax has one unique feature that most other convertibles don’t have: individual lower anchor connectors on each side.  This means that one strap doesn’t have to be pulled tight through the seat which can sometimes cause it to bind up in the belt path.  The individual adjusters make for an easy lower anchor installation.  Lower anchors can be used until the child weighs 40 lbs. This means the seat can always be installed with the lower anchors when rear facing if your seating position allows. The Boulevard does not allow for borrowing lower anchors from outboard seating positions. It does allow for overhang for those with shallow vehicle seats. Up to 3″ of the seat can hang off the edge assuming you can get a good installation.

 

Britax Boulevard rear facing lock offs

Britax Boulevard rear facing lock offs

If a seat belt installation is preferred, that method is easy as well with Britax’s seat belt lock offs.  They are found by lifting the cover.  Just open the lock off closest to your seat belt buckle, thread the belt through the rear facing belt path, buckle and tighten. Then flip the lock off over the seat belt to lock it into place.  The Britax lock offs can sometimes be difficult to clip all the way.  One tip for using the lock offs is to use the palm of your hand to close them, not your fingers.

 

Recline needs to be in position 3 for rear facing installation no matter the installation method.  The crotch buckle needs to in front of, not under the child.  For seat belt installation, the crotch buckle needs to be in the closest position for threading the seat belt through.  For lower anchor installation, the crotch buckle can be in either position as long as the buckle isn’t under the child.

Forward facing

  • Lower anchor weight limits
    • Forward facing- child weight of 50 lbs
Britax Boulevard forward facing installation

Britax Boulevard forward facing installation

 

 

Lower anchor installation is allowed up to child weight of 50 lbs for forward facing.  Recline positions 1 or 2 can be used forward facing. Recline position 1 must be used for children over 40 lbs, when installing with lap belt only.  Both lower anchor and seat belt installations are just as easy forward as they are rear.  For seat belt installation, thread the belt through the lock off closest to the buckle. Buckle, tighten, then close the lock off over the seat belt locking it into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fit to Child

Rear facing

  • Rear facing weight range: 5-40 lbs
  • Rear facing height range: 49″ or less, or 1″ from the top of the head to the top of the shell (not head support  head support (Britax recently amended the manual on G4.1 seats manufactured after Oct 2014 to include the head support)
Britax Boulevard Fiona - Newborn, 7 pounds, 17 inches

Britax Boulevard Fiona – Newborn, 7 pounds, 17 inches

 

 

Fiona – Newborn Huggable Images doll, 7 lbs, 17″

Fiona fit very well with the infant positioning pillow.  It bumped her up just enough so that her shoulders were just barely above the bottom harness slots.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that she fit nicely with the impact absorbing chest pads. These pads are highly recommended for forward facing, but can be removed rear facing to ensure a snug fit for small infants.

Britax Boulevard Anders - 15 months, 23 pounds., 31 inches

Britax Boulevard Anders – 15 months, 23 pounds., 31 inches

 

Anders – 15 months, 25 lbs, 30″

Anders has a great fit in the Boulevard.  Infant positioning pillow has been removed, as he is over 22 lbs. He’s on the 3rd harness position and has the crotch strap in the outer position.  He frequently sleeps in this seat with no complaints of being hot or uncomfortable.

Britax Boulevard Freya - 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

Britax Boulevard Freya – 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

 

 

Freya – 3 yrs, 25 lbs, 34″

Freya, like Anders, fits wonderfully rear facing in the Boulevard.  At 3, she’s still safer rear facing. She is actually on the same harness position as Anders and I moved the crotch buckle to the smaller position because she wasn’t sitting on the strap like Anders was. Even with the shallow seat pan that most Britax convertibles have, Freya still has plenty of leg room.

Forward facing

  • Forward facing weight range: 20-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 49″ or less
Britax Boulevard Freya - 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

Britax Boulevard Freya – 3 years, 25 pounds, 34 inches

 

Freya – 3 yrs, 25 lbs, 34″

Freya fits comfortably forward facing in the Boulevard as well.  I kept her in the inner crotch buckle position since she wasn’t sitting on it yet.  She has about 3 or 4 more harness positions to go on the head support.  I could see this seat lasting her for a long time to come.

Britax Boulevard Chloe - 6 years, 46 pounds, 48 inches

Britax Boulevard Chloe – 6 years, 46 pounds, 48 inches

 

Chloe – 6-year-old Huggable Images doll, 46 lbs, 48″

Chloe barely fits in the Boulevard.  Since she is 46 lbs, I left it installed via lower anchors (allowed up to child weight of 50 lbs).  Her shoulders are right at the highest harness position.  She still seemed to fit width wise well, although a typical child of this height and weight might be a bit snug. At 6 though, if she can sit properly, switching to a dedicated booster would be a safe choice.

Important information: Where to find

Britax Boulevard date of manufacture & expiration

Britax Boulevard date of manufacture & expiration

 

Date of manufacture can be found on the side of the car seat near the top, barely hiding under the cover.  Expiration is 7 years and can be found on page 5 of the instruction manual.

Britax Boulevard FAA certification

Britax Boulevard FAA certification

 

 

FAA approval sticker can be found on a sticker on the side of the seat, as well as page 6 of the instruction manual.

Britax Convertible Comparison

Britax G3Britax G4.1Britax Clicktight
Specifications
RF Limits5-40 lbs,
1" from the top of head to top of shell
5-40 lbs,
1" from top of head to top of shell
** Seats made after 10/14, rear facing height limit : when head is 1" from the top of the extended head support
5-40 lbs,
1" from the top of the head to the top of the head support
FF Limits20-70 lbs,
up to 49"
20-65 lbs,
up to 49"
20-65 lbs,
up to 49"
Shell height24"24"24"
29" (fully extended head support)
Lowest harness position9"7" (with infant insert)7.5" (with infant insert)
Highest harness position16"17"18.65"
Features
Clicktight installation
Seat belt lock offs
Included Infant insertwedge can be purchased from Britaxyesyes
Rear face tetheryesallowed in some, but not in newer versionsallowed in some, but not in newer versions
Anti-rebound baravailable from Britaxavailable from Britaxavailable from Britax

 

Overall thoughts

Britax has always made go-to seats for ease of use and installation.  The only downfall to this Boulevard, and other previous Britax convertibles, is the short shell and shallow seat pan.  None of these are a safety concern, but if you have larger children these complaints mean the child could outgrow the seat before they’re ready for the next step.  Britax has addressed these issues with their newest convertible line up, the ClickTights. Read our review on the Britax Advocate ClickTight for more information on those.  Overall, I’m pleased with the Britax Boulevard.

 


Interested in one for yourself?  Britax is giving one of our lucky readers a chance to win one!  Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the review.
Want one now and can’t wait for the giveaway?  They can be found on Amazon.com.

Britax provided the Laguna Boulevard used in this review, CSFTL was not otherwise compensated and opinions, as always, are all our own.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Evenflo Transitions Review

The Evenflo Transitions is the newest seat in the world of combination seats.  It is a seat that offers a five point harness, a high back booster, and a backless booster.  With several comfort and ease of use features, the Transitions is a wonderful option for keeping kids harnessed longer. Lets take a closer look at the seat.

CSFTL Quick Stats:Evenflo_TransitionsFeaturedImage

  • Forward facing weight range: 22-65lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 28-50″
  • High back booster weight range: 40-120lbs
  • High back booster height range: 44-57″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120lbs
  • Backless booster height range: 44-57″
  • Highest harness position: 18″
  • Highest belt guide position: 20.5″
  • Lower Anchor weight limit: 45lbs
  • Expiration: 8 years
  • Two position crotch strap
  • 2 Recline Positions
  • Use of Lower Anchors allowed in booster mode

Unboxing

Straight out of the box, the Transitions comes fully assembled, with protective plastic over the cupholders.  The manual, registration card, and shoulder belt guide for use in no back booster mode, is right on the front of the seat.  Always remember to send in your registration card that comes with the seat.  This registration card allows the manufacturer to contact you, should a recall occur.

Installation and Use

Harness Mode

Evenflo_TransitionsLA

Lower Anchors

Evenflo_TransitionsTetherStorage

Tether anchor and storage

Evenflo_TransitionsRecline

Recline foot and lever

The seat belt installation for the Transitions is easy and straight forward.  The belt path for using the seat in harness mode is wide and easily accessible.  Having a wide belt path is beneficial, as it makes it easier to thread the seat belt and tighten it.

The top tether comes attached to the tether storage hook on the back of the seat.  It is important to always use the top tether.  The top tether on the Transitions is easy to clip onto the tether anchor, and easy to tighten and adjust.  The lower anchors on the seat feature what Evenflo calls “quick connectors.”  These are different from standard lower anchor connectors and easier to use.  Standard lower anchor connectors are clip style, which require you to hook around the lower anchor of the vehicle.  The quick connectors are the push on style.  There are arrows on the connectors that need to point.  These quick connectors also feature a red tab to pull on to release.  The weight limit for the lower anchors on the seat is 45lbs.  Once your child reaches 45lbs in harness mode, the seat must be installed with the seatbelt. The seat features handy storage spots for both the tether anchor and the lower anchors. If you are using the seat for a child less than 40lbs, you MUST use the recline stand on the bottom of the seat.

Fit to Child: Harness Mode

10930849_10153256835094362_3910580970591946441_n

Evenflo Transitions: 2.5 years old, 28 pounds, 34.5″

 

This model is 2.5 years old, 28lbs and 34.5″. With this model, with the headrest in the correct position, it tended to push her head forward a little bit. She is using the third harness slot position. She is required to use the harness covers as she is under 40lbs. The material is rougher, so could irritate some children’s skin.

11174519_10153256850134362_7077775576114304144_o

Evenflo Transitions: 4.5 Years Old, 41 pounds, 41 inches tall

Here we see the fit on a 4.5 years old, 41 pound, 41 inch tall model.  He is using the second to the top harness slot, so he has plenty of room to grow! He fell asleep several times in this seat and looked very comfortable.

Evenflo_TransitionsOliviaHarness

Evenflo Transitions — 5 Years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

This model is 5 years old, about 45 inches and 46lbs.  She found the seat to be comfortable and “squishy.”

Evenflo Transitions harness strap covers

Evenflo Transitions harness strap covers

She also found the strap covers that come with the seat, which are required to be used for a child under 40lbs, to be itchy.  The harness straps are pretty narrow set, so I was concerned about them cutting into her neck without the covers.  This was not a concern or an issue for her.  With 18 inch top slots, she fit well on the last set of harness slots, with about 1.5 inches of growing room. The head wings on the seat provided a comfy place to rest her head when sleepy.

11209601_10153256837919362_4909792769505676713_n

Evenflo Transitions: 6 Years Old, 51 pounds, 47 inches

Here is the harness fit on a 6-year-old, 51 pound, and 47″ model.  She was right at the top of the harness slots so would need to transition to the high back booster mode soon.

Evenflo Transitions buckle tongue holder

Evenflo Transitions buckle tongue holder

Getting them in and out of the seat is easy too, with the help of the buckle tongue holders on the side of the seat.  The  seat also comes with an optional body pillow.  Please note that this pillow is optional before 40lbs, but it must be removed after 40lbs.

Harness to High Back Booster Conversion

Converting the Transitions from harness to high back booster is easy. It has a unique set up that allows you go keep the harness WITH the seat, so that you don’t have to worry about losing any important parts of the seat.

Evenflo_TransitionsStrapRouting

Front of harness routing

Evenflo_TransitionsHBBstraps

Harness routing in the back

Evenflo Transitions Jclip

Evenflo Transitions J-clip

The first step is to unhook the harness slots from the splitter plate and thread them through the front of the seat.  Then, unhook the “J clips” that hold the cover on to the shell of the seat.  Once the cover is off, rethread the harness and reattach to the splitter plate.  Then, thread the retainer clip through the belt path and clip it together. Reattach the cover, and you are good to go!

Evenflo Transitions high back booster mode

Evenflo Transitions high back booster mode

For the crotch buckle, take it out of the slot, and reattach it upside down.  When the seat is being used as a high back booster, you can use the lower anchors to attach the seat to the vehicle.

Fit to Child: High Back Booster

Evenflo Transitions: High back booster mode, 5 years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions: High back booster mode, 5 years old, 46 pounds, 45 inches tall

Here we see one of our models from the harness section above demonstrating the fit to child in highback booster mode. She is 5 years old, 46 pounds, and 45 inches tall.   The seat provided an optimal belt fit for her.  It positioned the belt low on the hips, and flat across the shoulders. Still enjoying the comfiness of the seat, she said she preferred the harness.  Learn more about how a booster should fit in our article: Proper Booster Fit.

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 6 years old, 51 pounds, 47 inches tall

This model is 6 years old, 47 inches tall, and 51lbs.  With the belt set up in this vehicle, it made it difficult for the seat belt to sit flush against the model but she did end up getting a decent fit with the head rest in the second to highest position.

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 6 years old, 51 pounds, 47 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions highback booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 51 inches tall

This model is 8 years old, 56 pounds, and 51 inches tall.  She said that while the seat was comfortable, it was “squished” in the shoulders.  The belt fit for her was optimal as well.

Evenflo Transitions Shoulder Belt Guide

Evenflo Transitions Shoulder Belt Guide

The belt positioner on this seat is wonderful.  It is wide open, so that getting the belt to retract is easy.  It also has loops enclosing the belt within the guide, so that it doesn’t come out.

Backless Booster Conversion

Evenflo Transitions: Backless  booster conversion

Evenflo Transitions: Backless booster conversion

Converting this seat from high back mode to backless mode is by far the easiest conversion I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  There is a red lever on the bottom of the seat.  Pull on that, then lift UP on the recline handle, and the bottom portion of the seat comes off.  Once taken off, you are ready to use the seat in backless mode. To reattach the bottom, simply line it back up, and snap it back on.  The lower anchors stay with the top portion of the seat, so when using in a backless booster, you must remember to buckle the seat in when not in use.  Buckling the seat when not in use, or using the lower anchors in high back mode, prevents the seat from becoming a dangerous projectile.

 

 

Fit to Child: Backless Booster

Evenflo Transitions in backless booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions in backless booster mode: 8 years old, 56 pounds, 50 inches tall

Our versatile model from above is our model for our the backless portion.  She is 8 years old, 56 pounds, and 50 inches tall.  Once again, the Transitions provided an excellent belt fit in the backless mode.  One thing I would like to note about using in backless mode is that you really have to make sure that the shoulder belt is tucked underneath the lap belt guides by the buckle.  It tends to want to slip up and out.

Evenflo Transitions backless booster mode: 8.5 years old, 80 pounds and 51 inches tall

Evenflo Transitions backless booster mode: 8.5 years old, 80 pounds and 51 inches tall

 

Our second model for the backless mode is mode is 8.5 years old, 80lbs and 51 inches tall. The seat once again provided a fantastic belt fit.

Important Information: Where to find

Evenflo_TransitionsFAA
FAA Approval: The Transitions is approved by the FAA for travel in harnessed mode only.  Because airplanes only have lap belts, boosters can not be used on the plane.  The FAA approval sticker is on the bottom left of the seat.
Evenflo_TransitionsExpiry2
Expiration: When the Transitions was originally released, it came out with a 6 year expiration date, which could be found on a sticker on the back of the seat, and also on the bottom behind the recline lever.  However, since its release, Evenflo has confirmed that there is actually an 8 year expiry date on the seat.  For questions regarding the expiration date and when your seat expires, you can call Evenflo.
Evenflo Transitions cleaning instructions
Cleaning the seat: The J clips that are on the seat make taking the cover off for when kiddo has an inevitable spill.  Here is a screen shot of the manual on cleaning the seat.  The manual is the best resource for any questions about the seat in general, as well as specific questions about cleaning.

Overall Impressions

Overall impression of the seat is that it is an easy to use, comfortable seat that performs well in all functions: harnessed mode, high back booster mode, and backless mode.  The harness height yields a long-lasting seat in harness mode.  With the optimal padding on the bottom, it would suit even the pickiest child in terms of comfort.  With the added J clips, it makes removing the cover a breeze.  The buckle tongue holders also make for a seat that is easy to use, especially in the summer months, as it keeps the hot metal away from the child’s skin. At 19 inches wide, it’s also fairly narrow, which could be beneficial to those families that need to fit 3 across in a vehicle.

Want to win one for yourself?  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Diono Cambria and Solana Review

The Diono Cambria is the newest booster seat from Diono. Many CSFTL Littles have been fans of the Diono Monterey for some time now; so we were excited to give the Cambria a try!

Diono Cambria high back mode

Diono Cambria high back mode

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • High-back booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • High-back booster height range: 38-63″
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • Backless booster height range: 38-63″
  • Highest booster guide position: 20″
  • Expiration: 10 years 

Features

  • Flexible lower anchor connectors
  • Retractable cupholders
  • Recline setting
  • Requires head support at all times

 

High-Back Mode

  • High-back booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • High-back booster height range: 38-63″
Diono Cambria high back mode

Diono Cambria high back mode

The Cambria is rated for children 4-12 years old, 40 – 120 lbs, 38 – 63″. CSFTL recommends utilizing a 5 point harness until your child has outgrown it and is at least 5 years old. Read more here about whether a booster seat is the right choice for your Little. The highest belt guide setting on the Cambria measures 20″ tall, making it a great, long-lasting choice. However, this seat requires head support to the top of the child’s ears at all times. Once the child’s ears go over the vehicle support, this seat is outgrown.

To use the Cambria in high-back mode, place on the vehicle seat, thread the shoulder belt through the belt guide and the lap belt under the armrests and buckle. Diono recommends the booster sit flush with the back and bottom of the vehicle seat. The high back has a slight recline setting that can be used by pushing the backrest back until it clicks. The Cambria is equipped with lower anchor connectors that can be used if lower anchors are available in the vehicle. Unlike with harnessed seats, there are no weight limits, so can be used the full weight of the booster. Simply connect the anchors and pull the straps on the front of the seat to tighten them.

 

Backless Mode

  • Backless booster weight range: 40-120 lbs
  • Backless booster height range: 38-63″
Diono Cambria/Solana backless mode

Diono Cambria/Solana backless mode

 

Once the child’s ears are above the top belt guide of the Cambria, they are too tall to use the high back mode. The Cambria’s back can then be removed, and used until the child reaches 120 lbs, 63″ or passes the 5 step test and is ready to ride without a booster. To remove the back, lay the back flat and lift the arms out of the hinges. This installation as well requires support to the top of the child’s ears. The same installation instructions apply to the Cambri in backless mode and the Solana as above. You will use the seat belt and can use the lower anchors if available.

 

Removing the Cambria backrest.

Removing the Cambria backrest.

 

 

The Cambria includes a flexible shoulder belt positioning strap for use in backless mode should the child need it to help properly position the shoulder belt.

 

Fit to Child

5 Year Old, 40 lbs, 40.5″

40.5", 40lb 5 year old in the Diono Cambria

Diono Cambria: 5 years old, 40 lbs and 40.5″

This child is very small for her age, closer to a four-year old by height and weight. She does meet the minimums for using the Cambria, and gets a good belt fit when using the headrest in the bottom setting. The belt sits across her chest and on her lap. The Cambria is very generous with interior room and she’s very little, so it can look like the seat is “swallowing her up” but she said she feels comfortable and is happy to use the seat.  She can buckle herself without much trouble and is able to adjust the belt properly so that it is snug and fits her correctly. When using the seat in backless mode, she does not get a good shoulder belt fit without using the belt adjuster strap. Since the Cambria comes with that strap attached (and hidden under the cover on the bottom) that would definitely be recommended for smaller children. While there is no safety difference between using the back and not using the back as long as the child can get a good fit, I would probably recommend using the back for a younger booster rider, because generally he or she will need that extra support from the sides.

 

6 Year Old, 43 lbs, 47″

6 years old, 43 lbs and 47"

Diono Cambria: 6 years old, 43 lbs and 47″

This child carries most of his height in his legs, and is only on the first headrest setting. The Cambria gives him an excellent seat belt fit: placing the lap belt low on his hips, touching the tops of his thighs and the shoulder belt even across his collarbone and flush with his torso. He is very happy riding in the Cambria, the vertical spacing of the armrests makes it very easy for him to buckle himself, and the generous shoulder belt guide allows the belt to slide freely through as he buckles.

Diono Cambria head support

Diono Cambria head support

The Cambria has ample head and torso support, which makes for a comfortable ride whether he is awake or asleep.

7 Year Old, 48 lbs, 49.5″

7 year old, happily using the Diono Cambria in high back booster mode

Diono Cambria: 7 years old, 48 lbs and 49.5″

 

This child is a taller seven-year old and carries most of his height in his torso. Even so, he is not using the top “click” of the headrest, and would have lots of room to grow using the seat in highback mode. He, too, can easily buckle himself and really loves that he does not have to buckle the seat during drop off at school in the mornings. He has some sensory issues and enclosed spaces make him uncomfortable, but the wide Cambria affords him lots of space and also a good bit of support for when he feels sleepy.  In backless mode, he gets a good fit without the shoulder adjuster strap, but seems to prefer using it. Belt fit can vary in different vehicles, so it is good to know that the shoulder belt adjuster strap has a convenient storage spot, and can be stowed or used easily.

9 Year old, 58 lbs, 52″

Diono Solana: 9 years old, 58 pounds, 52 inches tall

Diono Solana: 9 years old, 58 pounds, 52 inches tall

This model finds the Solana very comfortable.  It offers an excellent belt fit — the shoulder belt hits her right across the middle of her shoulder and the lap belt sits across her upper thighs.  The seat itself is a bit wide so she needs to move the Solana over a bit when to access the buckle stalk when she’s getting into the seat.  She’s a big fan of the cupholders.

Diono Solana: 9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52"

Diono Cambria/Solana: 9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52″

9 Year Old, 115 lbs, 52″

This child is right at the limits of using the backless portion of the Cambria.  This is actually the Solana backless booster that is sold separately from the Cambria.  We’ve had a difficult time finding a booster to fit him and the Solana is doing a decent job at it.  It’s nice and wide for his wider hips, but the belt fit tends to fit somewhat low on his thighs.  He likes how deep and wide the seating area is and the cupholders are a bonus.  We also both love the lower anchor connectors so he doesn’t have to buckle it in after every ride.

Diono Solana Cambria fuzzy

Diono Solana fuzzy

 

One thing we’ve noticed after a month or so of use is that the cover tends to come off the front and slide up the booster.  The cover has since started getting ‘fuzzy’ on that corner from the repeated sliding on it.  After contacting Diono, they replaced the entire Solana seat for me.  They stated it wasn’t a safety concern, but was still under warranty.

 

 

 

Unique Features

Diono Cambria lower anchor connectors

Diono Cambria/Solana lower anchor connectors

Lower Anchor Connectors

The Cambria features flexible lower anchor connectors which help secure the booster seat when not in use, and also make it a little more stable for the child to climb in and out and buckle themselves. To extend the strap, push the button just above the front of the strap and pull the connector from the back. Attach each connector to the vehicle’s lower anchors, then pull from the front to tighten. The lower anchor connectors are upside down from the traditional direction that lower anchor connectors typically face. Because the lower anchors are only holding the booster seat and the seat belt is restraining the child, it’s fine to hook them upside down. If use of the lower anchors interferes with buckling the seat belt, do not use them.

 

 

 

Diono Cambria padding/cover

Diono Cambria padding/cover

 

Padding/Cover

The Cambria has EPE foam in the headrest and torso area to aid in side impact protection. There is also a small layer of comfort foam in the seating area to provide a comfortable ride for the child. The cover is easily removable and the manual recommends hand washing and air drying to clean.

The models featured in this review are the Shadow and Sunburst fashion, it is also available in Raspberry and Graphite.

 

 

 

Diono Cambria retractable cup holders

Diono Cambria retractable cup holders

 

Retractable Cup Holders

The Cambria has cup holders on either side, each side has a circular compartment for a cup and a smaller, rectangular component for a snack or other item. They retract nicely into the base when not in use or to save space in the vehicle. The only problem that we have run into is they retract easily, so it can be cumbersome to get buckled if there is a cup in the cup holder and it is bumped in a way that makes the cup holder try to retract.

 

 

 

Diono Cambria manual storage

Diono Cambria manual storage

 

 

Manual Storage

The manual is a bit hidden, it took me some searching to find upon initial receipt of the Cambria. When looking at the back of the backrest, there is a small sleeve on the left side where it tucks away.

 

 

 

 

Diono Solana

Diono Solana

Solana

The Diono Solana is the backless version of the Cambria — it’s sold separately without the back.  It is exactly the same as using the Cambria backless.  So if you are only in need of the backless portion and don’t need the high back option, the Solana is the way to go.  For information on Fit to Child, please the information above on Fit to Child: Backless booster portion.

 

 

 

 

Important Information: Where to find

Diono Cambria Solana Date of manufacture expiration

Diono Cambria/Solana Date of Manufacture and Expiration

 

Expiration: The date of manufacture can be found on the very bottom of the booster and the manual states on page 2 to not use the seat after 10 years.

FAA Approval: As with all booster seats, the Diono Cambria and Solana are not FAA approved due to airplanes only having lap only belts according to the car seat manual.Diono Cambria Solana FAA

Overall Thoughts

The Diono Cambria is a long-lasting booster seat with great ease of use and comfort features. It is a great option for children who have outgrown their 5 point harness and are ready to move into a booster seat. It can be found for under $100 on Amazon.com, making it an excellent value as well.

The Diono Solana is also a great long-lasting backless booster option.  It fits larger children well and is a great option for children not quite ready for the adult belt alone.  It can be found for under $50 on Amazon.com, also making it a great value for a backless booster option.

Diono has been gracious enough to allow two of our readers to win a Diono Cambria for themselves.  CSFTL will be giving away a Diono Cambria to both a United States AND a Canadian reader!!

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 8.10.12 AM

 

When entering using the Rafflecopter widget below, US residents must enter using the 1st ‘page’ of the widget and the Canadian residents must click the button under the photo of the Cambria to be taken to your entry.  Please be sure to enter using the correct entry form.

 

 

Diono provided the Shadow Cambria used in this review, CSFTL was not otherwise compensated and opinions, as always, are all our own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Urbini Sonti Review

Urbini hit the ball out of the park with initial release of the Urbini Petal car seat and now have a new rear facing only car seat that has done the same, the Urbini Sonti.  Urbini was gracious enough to allow us to review this new addition to their product line. Like the Petal before it, the Sonti doesn’t disappoint!

Urbini Sonti

Urbini Sonti

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Weight range: 4-35 lbs
  • Height range: up to 32″
  • Shell height:  19.5″
  • Lowest harness position: 4.5″
  • Weight (carrier only): 7.2 lbs
  • Expiration: 6 yrs
  • Handle position: Any locked position

Features

  • 3 position adjustable crotch strap (3.5″, 5″, 6″)
  • 3 position adjustable hip straps
  • Extra grip lock-off on car seat base
  • 4 position adjustable recline positions
  • Multi-age recline indicator
  • Push button lower anchor connectors
  • Infant insert for infants 8 lbs and under

Unique Features

Urbini Sonti crotch & hip positions

Urbini Sonti crotch & hip positions

 

 

Three position adjustable crotch strap (3.5″, 5″, 6″) and three position adjustable hip straps makes the Sonti a very adjustable rear facing only seat that fits both little and big infants.

 

 

Urbini Sonti lock-off

Urbini Sonti lock-off

 

Extra grip lock-off on the car seat base works helps installing with the seat belt by not having to worry about how your seat belt locks.  You just push the black tab on the end of it out-of-the-way and swing the arm up.  Then buckle and pull all the slack out of the belt (don’t tighten as it makes the lock off near impossible to close and it isn’t necessary) and push the arm down.

 

 

Urbini Sonti recline knob and positions

Urbini Sonti recline knob and positions

 

Four position adjustable recline positions allows the seat to be adjusted to a wide range of recline levels to fit a wide variety of vehicles and child sizes.  The knob adjuster makes the adjusting the recline as easy as the turn of a knob as well.

 

 

Urbini Sonti multi-age recline indicator

Urbini Sonti multi-age recline indicator

 

 

Multi-age recline indicator allows larger infants to sit more upright.  As infants get older/larger, they tend to like to sit more upright and this allows the parent/caregiver to adjust it for the child’s preference.

 

 

 

Urbini Sonti push button lower anchor connectors

Urbini Sonti push button lower anchor connectors

 

 

Push button lower anchor connectors makes for an easier installation.  You just push the lower anchors on and you’re set.

 

 

Urbini Sonti infant insert

Urbini Sonti infant insert

 

 

Infant insert for infants 8 lbs and under.  The Sonti doesn’t come with a separate preemie insert, but the infant insert that comes with the seat does a great job of positioning even the 4 lb model we used.

 

 

 

Installation

  • Expiration: 6 yrs
  • Handle position: Any locked position
  • Lower anchor connectors may be used for spacing larger than 11” ONLY if your vehicle manufacturer allows it.
Urbini Sonti base installation

Urbini Sonti base installation

With the Base

Installation with the base is as easy as sitting the base on the vehicle seat, adjusting to the correct recline, flipping the lock off up, attaching either the lower anchors or seat belt, closing the lock off and you’re done.  Truly one of the easiest installations I’ve had with all the rear facing only seats I’ve installed.  One tip to remember is to not totally tighten the lower anchor connector strap or seat belt.  It just needs to have the slack pulled out.  If you tighten too much, it makes it near impossible to close the lock off.

 

Urbini Sonti baseless installation

Urbini Sonti baseless installation

Without the Base

Installation without the base is just as simple.  Follow the red line at the bottom of the car seat, stand behind the seat pressing your weight into the seat back, thread the lap belt portion of the seat belt through the belt guides, buckle and lock the belt.  Check out our Lock it Up article to find out more about how seat belt lock.  The Sonti doesn’t allow Euro routing, so the shoulder belt needs to lay against the vehicle seat and the lap belt through the belt guides on the car seat.  Euro routing is an additional installation method where the shoulder belt routes behind the car seat usually making the installation a bit tighter than without.  The Urbini Petal allows this install method, whereas the Sonti does not.

 

Fit to Child

  • Weight range: 4-35 lbs
  • Height range: up to 32″ or 1″ from the top of the head to the top of the shell

Adjustable hip and crotch strap information

Urbini Sonti Hip and crotch strap positions

Urbini Sonti hip and crotch strap positions

 

 

Due to the variety of hip and crotch strap positions, there is a wide variation of when to move each.  There is no required age/size to move either piece, but the Sonti manual does a great job of explaining what position each strap should be in.

 

 

 

 

Preemie

Urbini Sonti Jo - Preemie, 4 lbs, 17"

Urbini Sonti Jo – Preemie, 4 lbs, 17″

Jo – Preemie Huggable Images Doll, 4 lbs, 17″

Jo had an amazingly great fit in the Sonti.  Her shoulders were just barely above the lowest harness slot.  Since she’s under 8 lbs, the infant insert was used and the crotch and hip straps were in the smallest positions.

Urbini Sonti Fiona - Newborn, 7 lbs, 17"

Urbini Sonti Fiona – Newborn, 7 lbs, 17″

 

 

Newborn

Fiona – Newborn Huggable Images Doll, 7 lbs, 17″

Fiona had a great fit as well.  As with Jo, I kept her in the smallest harness positions  and used the infant insert.  Her shoulders were also just barely above the bottom harness slot.

 

 

Urbini Sonti Anders - 13 months, 23 lbs, 30″

Urbini Sonti Anders – 13 months, 23 lbs, 30″

Toddler

Anders – 13 months, 23 lbs, 30″

 

Anders is close to the height limit of the Sonti.  He has about an inch before the top of his head is 1″ from the top of the seat’s shell. It would be outgrown at that point.  With how much his growth has slowed down though, this could be several more months.  I love how tall the Sonti is and Anders has a great fit with the harness in the second to top harness slot.  He hasn’t had any complaints about this seat.

 

 

Important Information: Where to Find

Urbini Sonti Date of manufacture and expiration

 

Date of Manufacture and Expiration can be found on the underside of the car seat and on the inside of the base, along with on page 11 of the owner’s manual.

 

 

 

Urbini Sonti FAA certification

 

FAA certification can be found both on the back of the seat and on page 12 of the owner’s manual.

 

 

 

 

Urbini car seat comparison

Urbini car seat comparison

Urbini Car Seat Comparisons

Urbini carries both the Petal rear facing only car seat and the Sonti.  The Petal can be purchased on its own for about $100 from Walmart.  The Sonti can only be purchased with the Emi travel system for around $250 also from Walmart.  Both are a great deal for a great car seat.  Check out some of their differences below.

SontiPetal
Specifications
Lowest Harness Position4.5"5.5"
Shell Height19.5"19.5"
Crotch Strap Positions2 (4.5", 6.5")3 (3.5", 5", 6")
Hip Strap Positions32
Recline Settings42
Carrier Weight7.2 lbs.7.8 lbs.
Features
Car Seat Release Placementon the car seaton the base
Extra Harness Loops1 harness loop (no adjusting for child size)2 harness loops with velcro for the excess
Euro Routing Baseless Installation
Seat Belt Lock Off
Accessories
Infant Insert
Preemie Pillow
Harness Cover Pads
Crotch Pad

Overall Impressions

Urbini Emi Travel System_Red_preferred press photo_3000wI have really been impressed with the Sonti.  It’s one of the last rear facing only seats that still fits Anders, yet also fits little newborns and preemies well.  It is a decently tall seat, so it does take up a fair amount of front to back room.  It’s a nice inexpensive long-lasting rear facing only seat though.  If you’re in the market for a travel system, it’s definitely a great way to go.

Interested in the Sonti for yourself?  Since it can only be purchased in the Emi travel system, Urbini is allowing us to give away the complete travel system (stroller + car seat) to one lucky reader.  To find out more about the stroller, check Walmart.com.  To enter, follow the directions on the Rafflecopter widget at the end of the review.

Need one now and can’t wait for the giveaway?  The Urbini Sonti can be found with the Emi travel system at certain local Wal-Mart stores and online at Walmart.com.

Urbini generously provided this seat for review, but CSFTL was not compensated for this review, opinions are all our own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Graco Nautilus with Safety Surround Review

Graco Nautilus

Graco Nautilus

 

Graco introduced the Nautilus 3-in-1 forward facing combination seat in 2007. The Nautilus quickly became a trusted, well-priced staple in that category of seats.

The Nautilus harnesses from 20-65 pounds, then converts to a high back booster, then to a no backed booster.

Since it was introduced, the Nautilus was joined by two other Graco combination seats: the Argos 65 and the Argos 80 Elite.  All of these seats have a lot to offer the Littles who are forward facing — Littles who require a well-fitting harnessed seat that converts to booster mode to grow with the child.

There are a few varieties of the Nautilus, each with slightly different comfort or safety features. This review peeks under the hood of the Target exclusive model: Graco Nautilus with Safety Surround.

 

 

 

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Forward facing weight range: 20-65 lbs
  • Forward facing height range: 27-49″
  • High back booster weight range: 30-100 lbs.
  • High back booster height range: 38-57″
  • No back booster weight range: 40-100 lbs.
  • No back booster height range: 40-57″
  • Lowest harness position: 12″
  • Highest harness position: 18″
  • Highest booster belt guide position: 19.5″
  • 10 year expiration (early 2011 & older models have a 6 year harness/high back booster, 9 year no back booster expiration)
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 45 lbs.  This lower anchor weight limit only applies to seats post Feb 2015.  Nautilus seats made between Feb 2014-2015 is 42 pounds. Older Nautilus seats have varying lower anchor limits, please consult your manual.
  • Two position recline
  • Two position crotch strap
  • Can use LATCH in high back booster mode (but not in no back mode)

 

Graco Nautilus with Safety Surround

Graco Nautilus with Safety Surround

 

We’ll be taking a close look at the Nautilus with Safety Surround.  This model offers the same basic features and shape as the Nautilus, but adds some extra padding around the head area of the child.

The Nautilus can cause some head slump when passengers fall sleep; it has a bit less padding in the headrest.  We’d suggest the Nautilus with Safety Surround for children who often fall asleep in the car.

 

Assembling the Seat

Graco Nautilus headrest assembly

Graco Nautilus headrest assembly

 

The Nautilus arrived in two pieces — the base and back of the seat, with the harness attached and the headrest.

 

 

 

 

Graco Nautilus headrest assembly

Graco Nautilus headrest assembly

 

Use of the headrest is required. 

To assemble the Nautilus, line each post on the headrest up with the holes in the top of the seat’s shell and push down.  The headrest clicks into the top of the seat.

 

 

 

Installation

Over the years, I’ve owned a Graco Nautilus and the Argos 65 featured in this review.  I found that the neither the Nautilus nor the Argos installed in my 2009 Mazda 5 very well so when this Nautilus with Safety Surround arrived, I was pretty hesitant about starting to install the seat in my car’s second row.

Graco Nautilus

Graco Nautilus

I used all the installation tricks up my sleeve and after more trial and error than I care to admit, discovered the method that worked!

Recline the vehicle’s seat back about two clicks, install the Nautilus with the seat belt.  When all slack is removed from the seat belt, I returned the vehicle seat back to the upright position that my car’s manual requires.  Lo and behold, the seat was installed with less than an inch of movement at the belt path in any direction!

The Nautilus installs fairly easily in my Mazda 5’s third row — a spot that’s typically a huge challenge to get car seats installed.  By moving the recline block on the Nautilus to the  most reclined position, a little sweat equity helped get the Nautilus installed there. The Nautilus also installed without issue in our 2014 Prius V, in a variety of rental cars over the years, and on the flat bench-style seats in the 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor that we used to have.

Crotch Buckle Adjustment

On both my 2010 Graco Nautilus and my 2011 Graco Argos, moving the crotch buckle between positions was quite difficult. The webbing was slightly too thick to slide the buckle comfortably out of either position, the task required a lot of finesse, lining the webbing up just right, and often, some grunting and cursing.

I’m pleased to tell you that the 2015 Graco Nautilus with Safety Surround used in this review was quite easy to move between positions!

It can be placed in either position, the only restriction is that the buckle portion not be below the child — the child sitting on top of the webbing is fine, the child sitting on the buckle indicates that the crotch buckle needs to be moved to the outer slot.

 

Harness Height Adjustment

To adjust the harness height on the Nautilus, the seat must be uninstalled from the car.  This can be a disadvantage if the seat doesn’t install particularly easily in your vehicle.  This can be no problem if the seat installs easily in your vehicle.

 

Headrest Adjustment

In both harnessed and booster mode, the manual states that:  “The shoulder belt guides must be even with or just above the shoulders.”  The headrest can be adjusted without uninstalling the seat so it’s just a matter of squeezing the red handle at the top of the seat, then moving it up or down to achieve the proper fit.  The headrest should not cover the top of the shoulder straps in harnessed mode.

 

Padding

The seat includes a pretty robust extra pad.  Since it’s only designed to be used with children who are using the lowest harness slot, it’s of no use to us.  The lowest slot is a mere 12″, which is a setting that’s more for a child who’s about 1-year-old.

Since the Nautilus is a forward facing only car seat, we don’t consider the Nautilus an option for children small enough to require the padding — we’d suggest that children that young and that small ride rear facing, then switch to a forward facing seat when they’ve outgrown their rear facing car seat.

 

Harnessed Mode: Fit to Child

Preschooler

Graco Nautilus: 4 years old, 43 inches and 56 pounds

Graco Nautilus: 4 years old, 43 inches and 56 pounds

 

This model is 4 years old.  She’s 56 pounds and 44 inches tall.  Not only did the harness fit her well, she had plenty of room left in the harness.   This is great news — not all harnesses include enough length to fit children on the larger end of the growth curve so it’s nice to know that the Nautilus is an excellent option for children in this size range.

One caution: it’s likely that this model would outgrow the seat by weight before height.  However, the Graco Argos Elite 80 would offer her the same great harness fit and would likely last until the end of her need for a harnessed seat.

 

 

 

 

 

Kindergartener

Graco Nautilus: model is 5 years, 4 months old , weighs 45 pounds and stands 45 inches tall

Graco Nautilus: model is 5 years, 4 months old , weighs 45 pounds and stands 45 inches tall

 

This model is 5 years old.  She’s 45 pounds and 45 inches.  She’s able to climb into the seat and buckle herself in without issue.  The seat fits her well — my only complaint is that the strap tends to twist a bit if I’m not keeping an eye on it when she buckles herself in and out.

She’s roughly 17 inches at the shoulders so she has about an inch of harness height left in this seat.  That could equate to about a year left of use in harnessed mode.

This model is especially fond of the cupholder and the two cubbies.  They’re already home to a few stuffed friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headrest Position: Harnessed Mode

The manual states that: “The shoulder belt guides must be even with
or just above the shoulders as shown by dotted line.”

 

Harness Height Adjustment

Adjusting the harness is a two-step process:

1. Adjust the harness height by doing the following:

Unthread the harness by removing the loops from the splitter plate on the back of the seat, thread the harness through the next slot up while ensuring that each side of the harness goes over the red rollers on the seat.  Attach the harness straps to each side of the splitter plate, then pull the slack out of the harness to confirm that everything is attached correctly.

2. Adjust the headrest so that shoulder belt guides are even with,
or just above the child’s shoulders.  This may mean that the harness is coming from below the headrest in some instances.

 

Switching Between Harness and  High Backed Booster Modes

Removing the harness and switching the seat to high back booster mode takes a bit of effort, though it’s not as difficult as the manual’s 13 step process might seem.  Here’s a streamlined summary of the process:

Remove the Harness

Uninstalling the Graco Nautilus

Uninstalling the Graco Nautilus

1. Uninstall the seat (if you haven’t already) by unbuckling the seat belt and disconnecting the top tether anchor.

 

 

 

 

Graco Nautilus splitter plate

Graco Nautilus splitter plate

2. Remove the harness straps from the splitter plate in the back.  Each side of the harness is attached to a side of the splitter plate, remove one side, then the other.

 

 

 

Graco Nautilus crotch buckle removal

Graco Nautilus crotch buckle removal

 

3. With the seat’s bottom facing you, remove the crotch strap by pushing the strap retainer through the slot on the bottom of the seat.  Flip the seat over and pull the buckle from the top of the seat pan, to pull it completely out of the seat.

 

 

 

Graco Nautilus splitter plate storage

Graco Nautilus splitter plate storage

4. Pull on the harness adjuster strap on the front of the seat to lock the splitter plate into place.  It stores at the end of a plastic gutter on the bottom of the seat.
5. With the seat still facing you, grab hold of both shoulder straps and pull them out of their respective slots on the seat’s back.

 

 

Graco Nautilus seat pan

Graco Nautilus seat pan

6. On the rear of the seat detach 2 lower seat pad elastic straps from hooks.  Also detach the elastic straps that are threaded through the vehicle belt guides on the sides of the seat. Repeat on other side.

 

 

 

Graco Nautilus seat pan

Graco Nautilus seat pan

7. Pull the seat pad out-of-the-way to reveal the red buttons in the seating area .
Slide the buttons to release the back support from the base and lower it into a flat position.
Pro tip: Hold the back support or sit near a wall while doing this step to avoid having the back of the seat falling  back and hitting something when the seat back releases.
Graco Nautilus harness removal

Graco Nautilus harness removal

8. Remove harness straps from arms.
Pro tip:  Once you’ve removed the harness, store the harness straps, crotch buckle and any pillows in a safe place for future use.  I put mine into the seat’s original box.9. To convert the seat to high back booster mode, at this point, move the seat pad fabric out-of-the-way, then raise the seat back so that both arms LOCK into the gutters. You should hear a CLICK when the arms lock into the gutters.

Converting to No Back Booster Mode

Graco Nautilus no back booster mode

Graco Nautilus no back booster mode

If you’d like your Nautilus to be in no back booster mode, simply leave the back off at this point and reattach the fabric loops at the base of the cover behind the seat.

 

High back Booster Mode: Reattach Seat Pad and Attach Back

Graco Nautilus cover: elastic loops

Graco Nautilus cover: elastic loops

1. Tuck the seat pad in between the gap of the back support and seat area of the booster seat.  You’ll see 2 elastic straps showing at the rear of the seat.  Attach those 2 elastic straps from the seat pad onto the hooks on the rear of the seat.

 

 

 

 

Graco Nautilus in highbacked booster mode

Graco Nautilus in high back booster mode

2. Pull the elastic straps on the seat pad through the vehicle belt guide on the side of seat and attach to the hooks.  Then, repeat on other side .  You’ll now have a high back booster that’s ready to ride!

Lower Anchors: Booster Mode

The lower anchors can be used to secure the Nautilus in the car while in high back booster mode.

Fit to Child: Booster Mode

5 years old

Graco Nautilus: 5 years, 4 months old, 44 pounds, 45 inches

Graco Nautilus: 5 years, 4 months old, 44 pounds, 45 inches

Here’s our model from earlier, she’s 5 years, 4 months old, stands 44 inches tall and weighs 45 pounds.  This was her maiden voyage in booster mode!  The open shoulder belt guides made setting the seat up for her a snap.  Like so many combination seats, accessing the belt guides was much easier once the headrest was above the shell of the seat, confirming that making the switch to booster mode is best started when the child has outgrown the combination seat in harnessed mode first.  Otherwise, the headrest would be below the shell, making the shoulder belt guide hard to access.

 

Apparently, all the times I’ve reminded her sister to sit properly paid off because more than once, I heard her gasp because she’d started to slouch a bit, then she would remember to sit in an upright position.  She’s not quite ready for full-time booster use but with this seat, she’s got all of the help she needs to start the process.

The Safety Surround headwings absolutely helped with reminding her to sit properly.  In my opinion, and for my youngest kiddo, the Nautilus with Safety Surround would be an excellent option for booster training!

 

8 years old

Graco Nautilus, booster mode: 8 years old, 55 pounds, 50 inches tall

Graco Nautilus, booster mode: 8 years old, 55 pounds, 50 inches tall

At 8 years, 10 months old, 55 pounds and 50 inches tall, this model is at the top end of the size range for the Nautilus in high back booster mode.  It still provides an excellent belt fit — the shoulder belt sits squarely across her shoulder, and the lap belt is on her upper thighs.

She reports that while the padding is comfortable behind her, the sides and headwings made her feel a bit cramped in the seat, at least in high back mode.

 

Fit to Child: No Back Booster Mode

Graco Nautilus: 8 years, 10 months old, 55 pounds, 50 inches tall

Graco Nautilus: 8 years, 10 months old, 55 pounds, 50 inches tall

Here we see the our same 8-year-old, 55 pound and 50 inches tall model from the high back booster section.  She’s much more comfortable using the Nautilus in no back mode.  The belt fit across her shoulders and across her lap is excellent and she also enjoyed the cubbies/cupholder!

 

Important Information: Where to Find

Graco Nautilus: FAA Approval Sticker

FAA Approval

FAA Approval — the red lettering on this sticker is the airline approval text.  The sticker is located at the bottom of the base of the seat.
Graco Nautilus Date of Manufacture sticker

Graco Nautilus Date of Manufacture sticker

Date of Manufacture — The date of manufacture (DOM) sticker is also located at the bottom of the seat.  It’s just around the corner from the FAA approval sticker, tucked under the base of the seat.
Graco Nautilus Manual Storage

Graco Nautilus Manual Storage

Manual Storage — The manual stores in a handy compartment on the bottom of the seat.  Just tuck your manual into the slot and it will stay with your seat in case you need it during your travels.

Overall Thoughts

The Nautilus is a mainstay of the combination seat category — and with good reason!  It fits children of most body types and sizes well, in both harnessed and booster mode.  The Safety Surround padding on the headrest plus open shoulder belt guides made it an excellent option for both booster training and extended booster use for older Littles.

Coming in at a reasonable price point, the Nautilus has a lot to offer.  We issue a small word of caution that it’s not compatible in harnessed mode in every seating position we tried, but it was compatible with every other position in every other car, so it’s a safe bet that the Nautilus would work well in most cars.

Graco advertises that the forward facing Nautilus is the last car seat a child needs and we’d have to concur. Once your Little has outgrown their convertible car seat in rear facing mode, the Nautilus is an excellent option to take them to the very end of their car seat-using days!

Want to win one of your own? Our friends at Graco will send one lucky winner a Graco Nautilus with Safety Surround! Enter below for your chance to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Review

Maxi-Cosi is a well-known name worldwide for rear facing only seats. There have been several renditions of the Mico seat here in the US. The Mico Max 30 is the latest version. Maxi-Cosi has increased the height and weight limit and added an anti rebound bar to the base. Let’s check it out.

CSFTL Quick Stats:

micocover

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30

  • Weight range: 4-30 lbs.
  • Height range: 19-32″
  • Shell height: 21″
  • Lowest harness position: 6.5″ without insert
  • Weight (carrier only): 8.9 lbs.
  • Expiration: 8 years
  • Handle position: any locked position

Features:

  • Anti-rebound bar
  • Low birth weight insert for 4-6 lbs.
  • Customizable colors
  • Adjustable recline foot

 

 

latch mic max 30

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 lower anchor installation

Installation

Installation of the Mico Max 30 is comparable to other seats on the market. It can be installed with seat belt or lower anchors and with base or without. It was very straight forward in the Town and Country with its very generous recline foot.

 

 

 

 

Installation With the Base

reclineguideThe Mico Max 30 can be installed with either seat belt or lower anchors, never both. There is a line on the carrier that has to be parallel with the ground when the seat is installed. The base has three recline positions. Most rear facing car seats in the Town and Country need to be fully reclined and often need additional help to get the proper recline, the van has very sloped seats, but this only had to use recline two. The recline positions are very generous. Using a noodle or towel to achieve the proper recline angle, when using the base, would not be something to worry about.

 

 

storage mico max 30

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 lower anchor storage

When installing the Mico Max 30 using the seat belt, the lower anchor connectors clip into the storage anchors on the base.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

baselessmico

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 installation without the base

Installation Without the Base

The Mico Max 30 can be installed without the base using the vehicle seat belt. Use the line on the carrier as your recline guide. This is a great feature for parents who travel frequently or use taxis often. It installed very quickly using the inside of a knee to help push the seat, from behind, into the vehicle seat while tightening the belt. There is no European routing (with European routing, the shoulder belt is threaded through a belt guide on the back of the car seat) option with this seat, so the shoulder belt will be against the vehicle seat back when installation is complete. You can see the seat installed baseless in the picture to the left.

 

 

 

Fit to Child

JOPreemie

This is the CSFTL Huggable Images preemie, Jo. She’s 4 lbs and 17 inches. According to the minimum height restriction of the seat, she is 2 inches too short for this seat, but normal size for an infant this weight. It’s not a perfect fit, the harness falls just slightly above her shoulders, but depending on the torso length of baby, it could be a good fit assuming baby is 19 inches.
Jo is using the low birth weight insert to help bring her up to those bottom slots better. The insert is required for babies under 6 lbs. The harness was able to get nice and tight and we removed the harness covers for a better fit. There wasn’t enough room to have them on with them being so long. The harness has two loops at the bottom to attach the splitter plate to shorten the harness for a better fit on smaller babies.

Newborn

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30- Fiona, 7 lbs., 17 inches

This is the CSFTL Huggable Images newborn, Fiona. She’s 7 lbs and 17 inches. She’s 2 inches too short for this seat as well, but average newborns will meet the seat’s minimum height of 19 inches and you can see she fits well. She’s over 6 lbs, so does not need the low birth weight insert. She is using the lowest harness position, no harness pads, and the smaller loop on the harness.

Infant

amelia

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30- Baby A, 8.5 lbs., 23 inches

This is Baby A, she’s 6 weeks old, 8.5 lbs, and 23 inches. Like Fiona, she is over 6 lbs, so she does not need the low birth weight insert. The harness fit her well in the second harness position and was below her shoulders and again used the smaller harness loops. The harness covers were removed for better access to the harness for doing the pinch test.

 

Older Infant

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30- 11 months, 16 lbs., 27.5 inches

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30- 11 months, 16 lbs., 27.5 inches

This is infant F, she is 11 months, 16 lbs., and 27.5 inches. She’s petite for her age, but fits well using the top harness slots and outer most crotch buckle position. The seat is a bit narrow towards the top, which may start getting tight on bigger infants as they get towards the upper limits of the seat, but for her it was great.

Unique Features

MicoselfMost of the features of the Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 have been mentioned above, anti rebound bar, low harness slots, baseless installation. My favorite feature of this seat is one that cannot be found on any other seat! You can now fully customize the colors of your Mico Max 30. A pre-made Mico Max 30 has a MSRP of $249.99 and there are eleven color choices. A customized seat will be $269.99 for a black shelled seat or $279.99 for a white shell. There are four colors for the main seat pad, four for the canopy, and eight for the Cozi set. You can see my white (shell), black (canopy), pink (seat pad), and purple (Cozi set) creation here to the left. You can custom order just about anything; houses, cars, why not car seats?

Important Features: Where to Find

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 has an 8 year expiration

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 has an 8 year expiration

Expiration: The Mico Max 30 has an eight year expiration, so this seat was manufactured 2/11/2015 and will expire the end of 2023. The expiration date is found on a white sticker under the seat and the expiration date is stamped on to the back of the seat.

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 FAA approval sticker

FAA Approval: The Mico Max 30 is also FAA approved. The sticker is on the side of the seat and wording is in red so it’s easy to see and show flight attendants if needed. Find the largest sticker on the side of the seat and the wording in red about half way down is what you’re looking for.
manual

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 manual storage

Manual Storage: Installation directions for the Mico Max 30 for airplane use are in the manual. The manual is hidden under the cover on the right side of the baby, but is clearly marked with a small tag that says Instructions Under Pad.

 

Overall Thoughts

The Mico Max 30 was easy to install, both with and without the base. It is a bit long front to back with the base, but should fit in most mid-sized vehicles. The added rebound protection of the anti rebound bar is a great bonus not found on most rear facing only seats. The harness is low enough it’ll fit small babies well and will last the first year for most kids. I do wish the seat didn’t have a 19 inch minimum as that isn’t realistic for a lot of 4 lb. babies, but otherwise I think it’s a good choice fit wise for average babies. It’s a bit on the high side price wise for a seat you’ll only use for around a year, but if you are able to use it for a few children before it expires, it would even out.

 

micogreenMaxi-Cosi provided this seat for review but provided no compensation for it. The thoughts above are entirely that of the author. Maxi-Cosi was also generous enough to provide a Mico Max 30 for a giveaway as well. Don’t want to wait to see if you win, you can order the Mico Max 30 now on Amazon.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 LX Review

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX is one of several rear facing only seats in the Graco lineup.  We’ve been given the chance to give it a test run and have been pleasantly surprised by how it does.

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • Weight range: 4-35 lbs
  • Height range: 32″ or less
  • Shell height: 19.5″
  • Lowest harness position: 5″
  • Weight (carrier only): 7.5 lbs
  • Expiration: 7 years
  • Handle position: Any locked position

 

 

 

 

 

Features

  • Two position adjustable crotch strap (5.5″, 7″)
  • No rethread harness
  • Infant insert for smaller infants (Can be used up to 12 lbs)
  • Adjustable recline foot
  • Push button lower anchor connectors
  • Multi-age level indicator
  • Seat belt lock-off on base

Unique Features

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX crotch buckle positions

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX crotch buckle positions

 

 

Two position adjustable crotch strap, measuring 5.5″ and 7″, helps keep both small and big infants comfortable without the crotch strap sitting either too far or too close to them.  Graco gives no recommendations for when is the appropriate time to move the buckle, but ideally the buckle should be as close to the child as possible.

 

 

 

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX no rethread harness

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX no rethread harness

 

 

The no rethread harness is adjustable by squeezing together two red buttons on the back of the car seat, then sliding the adjuster to the correct position.  The harness and head support move together when adjusting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX infant insert

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX infant insert

 

 

 

Infant insert for smaller infants can be used up to 12 lbs and does a great job of keeping little infants correctly positioned and comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

Graco Click Connect 35LX recline foot

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX recline foot

 

 

Adjustable recline foot is adjustable with just the twist of a red knob on the front of the base.  This allows the Click Connect 35LX the ability to be correctly reclined in a wide array of vehicles.

 

 

 

 

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX push button lower anchor connectors & storage

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX push button lower anchor connectors & storage

 

 

 

Push button lower anchor connectors are stored on the underside of the base and easily push onto vehicle lower anchor connectors.  They are released by pressing the red button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX multi age level indicator

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX multi-age level indicator

 

 

Multi-age level indicator on the base allows the infant to be more reclined (under 3 months of age) or to sit more upright (3 months plus).  This allows older infants the chance the sit up more and look out the window and the younger infants to have the proper recline so there is no head slump.

 

 

 

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX seat belt lock off

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX seat belt lock-off

 

 

Seat belt lock-off on base helps with ease of seat belt installation by allowing the seat belt to be locked using the base, rather than locking the belt in another way.  Learn more about how to lock your seat belt in our Lock it Up article.

 

 

 

 

 

Installation

  • Expiration: 7 years
  • Handle position: Any locked position

With Base

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX base installation

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX base installation

The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 LX can be installed with either seat belt or lower anchors.  To install via lower anchors, just thread the straps through the belt path over the seat belt lock off, connect the push button connectors to the vehicle anchors and tighten.

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX lower anchor strap button

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX lower anchor strap button

 

 

 

The only potential issue I had with lower anchor installation in my vehicle is the button to loosen the strap sits right under the belt path.  This could cause the base to potentially push the button.  I just made sure the button laid all the way through the belt path so it didn’t push on it.

 

 

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX seat belt lock off

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX seat belt lock-off

 

 

Seat belt installation is easy with a seat belt lock-off incorporated into the base.  To install using these lock-off you just unclip the red lever from under the gray clip, thread the seat belt through the belt path, tighten, then clip the red lever under the grey clip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without Base

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX baseless installation

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX baseless installation

Like most other rear facing only seats on the market, the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 LX can also be installed without the base.  This can help with tight 3 across situations, routinely switching the seat between vehicles, and traveling.  To install, set the car seat on the vehicle seat, line up the level to ground line to level, thread the seat belt through the plastic guides on the car seat, lock the seat belt, press your weight into the back of the car seat, and tighten.  The lap belt will be the only belt going through the belt guides on the car seat.  The shoulder belt will lay against the vehicle seat back.  It does NOT allow Euro routing, where the shoulder belt routes behind the car seat, like some other rear facing only car seats on the market.

 

 

 

 

Fit To Child

  • Weight range: 4-35 lbs
  • Height range: 32″ or less or 1″ from the top of the head to the top of the head support
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX Jo - Preemie, 4 lbs, 17"

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX Jo – Preemie, 4 lbs, 17″

Jo – Huggable Images Preemie, 4 lbs, 17″

Jo had a great fit in the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 LX.  The infant insert is optional up to 12 lbs, so it was kept in for little Jo.  The harness is just barely below her shoulders.

Graco Click Connect 35LX small crotch buckle positionThe crotch buckle is allowed to be threaded through the front slot, then through the slot closer to the child.  This pulled the buckle down nicely so it doesn’t sit awkwardly on her belly.  The large head support gave her ample support as well.

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX Fiona - Newborn, 7 lbs, 17"

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX Fiona – Newborn, 7 lbs, 17″

 

 

Fiona – Huggable Images Newborn, 7 lbs, 17″

Fiona had a good fit as well.  Ample head support and body support from the infant insert.  Her shoulders were just a bit over the bottom harness position and I left the crotch buckle at the smaller setting, like Jo’s.

 

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX Anders - 10 months, 23 lbs, 29" & 13 months, 23 lbs, 30"

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX Anders – 10 months, 23 lbs, 29″ & 13 months, 23 lbs, 30″

Anders
10 months, 23 lbs, 29″
13 months 23 lbs, 30″

Anders fits great in this seat!  Plenty of room to grow still.  He has plenty of harness length left still and a few more clicks of the headrest.  I don’t foresee it lasting him until the stated 35 lb limit, but will most likely hit the height limit before the 1″ from the top of his head to the top of the head support.  The head support fits him nicely as well.  The car seat is also wide so it accommodates his larger width very well.

 

Important Information: Where to Find

Graco Click Connect 35LX FAA

 

FAA certification can be found on page 42 of the instruction manual and on a sticker on the side of the seat.

Graco Click Connect 35LX date of manufacture

 

 

 

Date of manufacture can be found on the bottom of the car seat and on the inside top of the base.

 

 

 

Graco Click Connect 35LX Expiration

 

Expiration range can be found on page 7 of the manual as well as stamped into the plastic on the bottom of the car seat.

 

 

Overall Impression

I’ve been very impressed with the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 LX.  It fits my bigger child well, isn’t overly heavy, easily adjustable, and installs like a breeze.  The only downfall I’ve seen with it is that the harness can be difficult to tighten all the way.  This is due to the harness routing through both the head support and shell thus adding a little extra friction.  I’ve struggled with almost every no rethread harness rear facing only seat we’ve used with Anders though, so this wasn’t something overly different from normal.  I love the longevity of this seat and would recommend it as a great option for parents/caregivers looking for a rear facing only seat that will last them as long as possible.
Interested in finding out the differences between Graco’s SnugRide lineup of car seats?  More information can be found on our Graco Rear Facing Only Comparison post.

Think the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35LX is the right seat for your child?  They can be found on Amazon.com!

Graco graciously provided the SnugRide Click Connect 35LX used in this review.  As always, the opinions are our own.

Clek Foonf vs. Clek Fllo: A Comparison

fllo foonf

Clek Foonf vs Clek Fllo

Considering a Clek convertible car seat, but you’re not sure which one is right for you? Have you read our review of the Foonf or our review of the Fllo but still can’t decide? The seats are very similar: both have anti-rebound bars (ARB).  Both rear face to 50 lbs. and forward face to 65 lbs.

How do you decide? Maybe this side-by-side comparison will help!

CSFTL Quick Stats: Clek Foonf Clek Fllo
Rear facing: 14-50 lbs., 25-43″ 14-50 lbs., 25-43″
Forward facing: 22-65 lbs., 30-49″ 22-65 lbs., 30-49″
MSRP: $449.99 $379.99
Lowest/Highest harness height: 10″/17″ 10″/17″
Lock offs: Yes, rear and forward Yes, rear and forward
Lower anchor weight limits: 25 lbs./30 lbs. 35 lbs./40 lbs.
Lower anchor connectors: Rigid anchors, can be used forward facing with seat belt Flexible anchors
ARB: Required when rear facing Optional when rear facing
Pool noodle/towel: Yes Towel only

The Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo have identical height and weight limits, so you have to dig a little deeper to see which seat will work best for you. I tried to compare the reclines of the seat, since that is the biggest difference, but of course, each vehicle is different so things may be slightly different in your vehicle. I’m using both a 2007 Chrysler Town & Country and a 2014 Toyota Camry.

Recline Mechanism

Clek Foonf Clek Fllo
The Foonf has a base that attaches to the bottom of the seat to aid in reclining the seat. It has three mechanical recline positions. In the US, the second and third recline position can be used rear facing. In Canada, the seat must be in position three. The Fllo has a recline foot that can flip forward and back under the seat. It should be positioned forward for rear facing and back for forward facing, and must be used at all times when rear facing. This tends to mean the Fllo may need extra recline help from a towel when the ARB is not in use.

Clek Foonf vs Clek Fllo: recline mechanism

 

 Anti Rebound Bar (ARB)

Clek Foonf Clek Fllo
The Foonf requires the ARB be used at all times when rear facing. Noodles, towels, or an empty space are permitted with the Foonf. The ARB is helpful in achieving the proper recline. Just move the ARB up the back of the vehicle seat to achieve proper recline and then tighten. The Fllo allows for removal of the ARB. This can help take up less space in smaller vehicles. When the ARB is removed though, if your seat needs further reclined, you must use a towel to do so. Noodles and empty spaces are not allowed under the seat. When using the ARB, the ARB is helpful in achieving the proper recline.

foonf fllo

Here is the Foonf in recline position two (only allowed in the US) and the Fllo at the most upright position without the ARB. I found these two positions to be very similar in the amount of space they took up.

mostuprightus

Most upright Fllo with ARB and Foonf on recline position 2

Lower Anchor Connectors

Clek Foonf Clek Fllo
The Foonf has two sets of lower anchor connectors. It uses the traditional flexible connector strap for rear facing and rigid lower anchor connectors for forward facing. The Foonf has independent adjusters on the rear facing lower anchor connector strap, meaning you can tighten independently on each side. For rear facing the Foonf has a 25 lbs. lower anchor weight limit. For forward facing it has a 30 lbs. lower anchor weight limit; however, the seat does allow for installation using both the rigid lower anchor connectors and seat belt as long as your vehicle does not prohibit it. The Fllo only has one strap and uses flexible webbing that must be moved from the rear facing belt path to forward facing belt path and back again as needed. The Fllo can be installed with lower anchor connectors until the child weighs 35 lbs. when rear facing. The Fllo doesn’t have rigid lower anchor connectors so it only allows for lower anchor OR seat belt installation. Once the child reaches 40 lbs. the seat belt must beach used instead of lower anchors.
Clek Foonf: Rigid lower anchor connectors for forward facing vs. Clek Fllo: flexible webbing

Clek Foonf: Rigid lower anchor connectors for forward facing vs. Clek Fllo: flexible webbing

 

 

Height in vehicle

Clek Foonf Clek Fllo
The Foonf has a base that must be added to the seat for rear facing, this raises the seat several inches higher. The Foonf then sits much higher in the vehicle and closer to the roof of the vehicle. The Fllo has the built-in recline foot so there is no need to add anything else to it. This make the Fllo sit much lower in the vehicle as compared to the Foonf.
foonfheight2

Clek Fllo vs. Clek Foonf in a Town and Country

Recline Positions

Clek Foonf Clek Fllo
There are a range of rear facing recline angles available for the Foonf. The angle guideline on the base has an available angle for those under age one and an angle for those over age one. Parental discretion is largely in play when deciding what angle to use. The Fllo has two lines as recline guides. One line is for children under 22 lbs. and one line for children over 22 lbs. However, Clek says that any recline between the two lines is acceptable at any weight limit and to use your best judgment for your child.

Fllo in most upright position with the ARB and Foonf in most upright position using recline two (only allowed in the US)

Deepest recline 2014 Camry allowed, Fllo could not get to under 22 lbs. line

uprightlevel3

Most upright with ARB on Fllo and Foonf on recline position three

While the Fllo and Foonf are very similar but have definite differences, they are both good choices for most. They are long-lasting seats, especially rear facing with their 50 lbs. weight limits. Both seats are narrow which often makes them good choices for three across situations. Either seat will probably work well in most vehicles, but hopefully this comparison will help you to make the perfect choice between the two seats.

Learn More about Clek

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy Review

One of the rear facing only seats on our recommended list has gotten a makeover!  Like most good makeovers, only a few things have changed.  Without further ado, we present to you, the Cosco Light n Comfy.

 

CSFTL Quick Stats

LightNComfy_NewbornFit

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy

  • Weight range: 4-22lbs
  • Height range: Up to 29 inches, or less than 1 inch of shell above the head
  • Shell height: 19 inch shell height
  • Lowest harness position: 5.5 inch lowest harness height
  • Weight (carrier only): 8.9lbs
  • Expiration: December of the 6th year.
  • Handle: any locked position

Features

  • Lower Anchor Storage hooks
  • Optional head support
  • 4 Harness slots
  • Front Adjust harness

 

Installation

LIghtnComfy_SBInstall

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy seat belt installation

 

The installation of the Light ‘n Comfy is very straight forward, both with the base and without the base.  The only down side to the installation of the seat is that if you have vehicle seats that are sloped, you will need a tightly rolled towel, or a pool noodle to obtain the proper recline.

 

 

 

LIghtNComf_LAInstall

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy lower anchor installation

 

 

There are other versions of this seat, such as the luxe, that do come with a recline foot to assist with the correct recline.  There is a line on the side of the seat for obtaining the correct recline.  When the line is parallel with the ground, the seat is at the correct recline.

 

 

 

 

With the Base

LIghtnComfy_LAStorage

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy lower anchor connector storage

 

When installing with the base, you can use either the lower anchors or the vehicle seat belt for installation.  If you choose to use the seat belt, there are hooks inside of the base for the storage of the lower anchors.  The belt path for installation is clearly marked.  The base and the way the carrier fits into the base are the two major changes from the Comfy Carry.

 

 

 

LIghtnComfy_Basedifferences

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy vs Cosco Comfy Carry base

As you can see below, the shape of the base is updated, and rather than attaching to the base closer to the feet, the Light ‘n Comfy attaches further back.  This makes it easier to snap the seat into the base, as the lower anchor straps are less likely to get in the way of setting the carrier in the base.

 

 Without the Base

LightNComfy_Baseless

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy baseless installation

Installation without the base is a convenient feature to save you money. This eliminates the need to purchase a base for different cars, or worry about uninstalling the base if baby spends the day with grandma or at a sitters. The belt path for the installation without the base is clearly market, with guides for the lap portion of the belt.  If you are using a lap and shoulder belt, only the lap portion of the belt goes through the guides.  Always make sure that you lock your belt whenever you are installing a seat.

 

 

 

 

LIghtNComfy_Redhooks

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy stroller connectors

 

Using the Carrier

The carrier is very easy to use and at only 8.9lbs, the carrier is the lightest weight carrier on the market.  One important thing to note is that there are two red knobs on the side of the seat.  These knobs are what locks the seat into a stroller, so there is no need to panic if these don’t hook into the base.

 

Fit to Child

LightNComfy_PreemieFitNoHR

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy- Jo, 4 lbs., 17 inches

 

Preemie – 4 lbs, 17″

This is Jo, the CSFTL Huggable Images preemie. She is 4 lbs. and 17 inches long. The fit is the same on the Light ‘n Comfy as it was on the Comfy Carry. The Light ‘n Comfy offers an excellent fit for both newborns and preemies.  With the lowest harness slots being 5.5 inches, it is able to provide the correct fit for even the tiniest of newborns. Remember, when a child is in a rear facing seat, the harness straps need to be AT or BELOW shoulder level. The seat also has a starting weight of 4lbs.

 

LightNComfy_SmallinfantRouting

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy small infant crotch buckle position

 

 

 

The biggest feature of the seat is that it allows you to reroute the crotch buckle, so that there is no slack, removing the need for a crotch roll.  The seat does come with a head support, but similar to the head support that came with the Comfy Carry, it can be cumbersome to use.  I found that especially when using it on the lowest slot, the head support was prone to bunching up behind the baby.

 

 

LightNComfy_NewbornfitHR

Cosco Light ‘n Comfy- Fiona, 7 lbs., 17 inches

 

 

 

Newborn – 7 lbs, 17″

This is Fiona, the CSFTL Huggable Images newborn. She is 7 lbs. and 17 inches long. The fit for the newborn is just as optimal as it is for the preemie. Once again, I found the head rest on the seat to be more in the way than helpful.  The ability to route the crotch buckle as noted above is beneficial to the newborn fit as well.  There is no weight limit on this special routing, however it can only be used in the inner most buckle slot. You want to use the buckle slot closest to your child, without them sitting on the buckle.

 

 

 

 

 

Features

The Light ‘n Comfy is a very budget friendly seat.  This seat can usually be found for less than $70, it’s a basic seat that does the job well. That doesn’t mean it’s lacking ease of use features for the caregivers. The lower anchor storage hooks on the base keep them out-of-the-way when not in use.  The seat is the lightest weight rear facing only carrier on the market.  The seat also boasts a nice sunshade that can be moved to adjust to babies needs and block out the sun.  With 4 harness slots, and 3 crotch strap positions, it’s easy to find a position to fit your baby correctly.   The seat and the base are also both FAA certified, with the sticker stating this on the right side of the seat. The cover on the seat is easy to wipe off  and easy to remove.  The manual does recommend hand washing the cover.  It’s also important to note to never submerge the straps of your car seat.

 

Important Information: Where to Find

Cosco_LightncomfyFAADOM

Cosco Light n Comfy FAA approval sticker

 

The Light ‘n comfy is approved for use on airplanes. The FAA approval sticker is located on the sticker to the left of the babies head.  The date of manufacture is also located on this sticker.

 

 

 

Cosco Light n Comfy expires in December of the 6th year after manufacture

Cosco Light n Comfy expires in December of the 6th year after manufacture

 

 

The expiration for the seat is December of the 6th year.  The year the seat expires is stamped into the mold of the seat, on the back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Thoughts

Since writing the review of the Comfy Carry, it is no secret that I’m quick to recommend the seat.  The same goes for the Light N Comfy, especially with the updated base. It’s a budget friendly, easy to use, and light rear facing only seat.  While it does have lower height and weight limits vs other rear facing only seats, it still provides a fantastic fit, especially for preemies.

 

Interested in a Light ‘n Comfy for your Little one?  You can find them at Amazon.com.

 

While Cosco provided the seat free of charge to the author, Cosco did not pay for or influence this review.   All opinions expressed, as always, are entirely our own.