Greetings from the wild wild west, where the CSFTL Media Team has converged on the ABC Kids Expo for coverage of the latest and greatest in the car seat world. Here’s a rundown of what we saw today:
The biggest change in the Britax product lineup is the discontinuation of the Advocate G4.1. That seat is similar in price to the Marathon ClickTight — Britax found that many consumers were buying the ClickTight seat instead. Britax will also be phasing out the Parkway SG.
They’re also introducing two new covers for their rear facing only car seats. At $49 and $29, these shower cap style covers can keep the Littlest Littles warm and comfortable. The B-Warm will safely keep kids toasty in the winter, and the cleverly named B-Covered protects littles from UV exposure and pesky bugs in the warmer months.
We made an unscheduled stop by the Baby Trend booth, where we saw an old friend dressed in some sporty new clothes! The First Years discontinued child restraint production some time ago. Some of us were big fans of the True Fit and were sad to see it go. Imagine our great surprise when we learned that Baby Trend had acquired the intellectual property and is bringing the seats back (with a few changes and a new name, the PROtect Convertible).
There are three versions: the lowest-priced, least-featured model that doesn’t have lockoffs, the mid-priced, mid-featured model with the lockoffs, and a highest-priced, most featured model which has lockoffs and a reclining base.
We’ll get a closer look at this later on in the show but it was exciting enough that we wanted to mention it now.
Our friends at Maxi-Cosi have been busy! There are a great many new colors with washable, easy-remove covers for all of their seats: the Mico 30 (the MicoAP is being phased out), Mico Max 30, Pria 70, Pria 85, Vello 70, and RodiFix.
There are also some very sporty stroller styles to complement these updated covers.
Maxi-Cosi is selling these exciting new covers separately from the seats. They’ll retail from $89-$109 and offer caregivers an easy way to update their car seat.
Another added bonus from Maxi-Cosi is a canopy for their convertible car seats. We saw this last year at the show; it should be available for sale ($29) soon.
On the booster seat front, much to our chagrin, the RodiAP is being discontinued while the RodiFix gains a new, more plush, washable cover.
Confession: our main struggle with both the RodiAP and the RodiFix was the spot clean only cover. Now that the fabric is easily removed and washable, watch out world, here comes the washable RodiFix!
Our friends at Safety 1st continue to come up with ways to make car seats easier for caregivers. Today, we saw a test of a new system where caregivers can have a video chat with a technician. 2014 CSFTL Man of the Year, Ryan Hawker, showed us a demo of a video chat. The program will be by appointment and can offer caregivers an easy way to share the issues they’re having and visualize a potential solution.
We also got a close look at the Grow and Go Air, which features a cover that snaps down to reveal the belt path. This access can make installation even easier for caregivers since they’ll be able to see the entire belt path!
The Safety 1st Continuum is a similar seat to the Grow and Go but offers a 50 lb forward facing weight limit. This is offered at a lower price than the Grow and Go.
The Comfy Convertible is a very plush version of the Apt50 that includes an infant insert. It will be available at Buy Buy Baby at the $99 price point.
Our last stop of the day was a long visit with Graco. We had a chance to see some exciting changes to their rear facing only lineup. They’re simplifying the names of the seats (all will now be called “SnugRide,” dropping the Classic Connect and Click Connect parts of the names) and most importantly, phasing most rear adjust rear facing only seats out! Some will remain at Wal-Mart, sold only with a stroller as part of a travel system for the time being, but we’re very pleased with this progress.
We moved on to the Size4Me with RapidRemove. In a minute or less (no joke, we timed it!), the cover comes off without having to uninstall the seat. This is a big win for families with children who are prone to making messes in the car. The RapidRemove cover will also be on the MySize and Fit4Me and should be available on additional Graco models in the future.
We got to get up close and personal with Graco’s new combination seat, the Tranzitions. We were really pleased to find that it converts with ease between a forward facing 5-point harness and a backless booster. It’s rather narrow and the optional cupholders make it a solid new option for three across situations.
We had a sneak peek at the Extend2Fit, Graco’s entry in the growing 50 pound rear facing convertible market. The Extend2Fit features a unique tray that extends up to five inches from the seat and allows older rear facing riders to prop up their feet. This seat should be in stores starting in January 2016.
Note: this tray is ONLY for use when the seat is in rear facing mode.
Graco shared with us an update to their best-selling TurboBooster: a new deluxe model will include TrueShield side protection and will not fall apart when it’s being moved. We were thrilled to learn that this model will not need screws in the armrests! This will be replacing the current Affix platform and will have lower anchor attachments for vehicle LATCH/ISOFIX systems.
In another promising change for promoting best practice, Graco told us that they will be raising their minimum age for boosters to 4 years.
We applaud Graco for these changes that we anticipate will make their seats easier to use correctly. As we all know proper use is essential to keeping kids safe; today we got to see some of the ways that Graco is working on ways to make their seats more user-friendly. Thanks Graco!
Stay tuned for updates from tomorrow’s visit to the ABC Kids Expo!