What do you get when you combine a spring snowstorm, Washington DC and an intimate gathering of baby gear manufacturers eager to show off some new items? That’s right, the JPMA Baby Show of 2018! This author was supposed to attend but got snowed out (is that a term?) and stuck in Southern California for our version of a winter storm: a two day rainstorm. So I watched with envy from afar at the new car seats and boosters that our team at the JPMA show got to meet. Here’s a look at what they saw!
Our first stop was the Hauck booth. Hauck manufactures car seats under their own label and under the Fisher Price and iCoo labels. We’ve spent some time with their rear facing only car seat in the past, and now it will be released under the Fisher Price label as well. We also took a look at the new Hauck ProSafe 35 and Fisher Price Traveler ProSafe 35 rear facing only car seats.
We’d seen earlier versions of the new Hauck Bodyguard Pro and Fisher-Price Traveler Bodyguard Pro booster seats at ABC Kids last year. A production version is closer to reaching store shelves, where the Fisher-Price Traveler Bodyguard Pro will retail for $149. The Hauck version of the seat has different cover options and retails for $129;
we’ve been told that both versions of this booster seat convert to backless boosters and have rigid LATCH that swivels underneath to stow away, deep headwings, and deep sides. They’re made from a combination of injection-molded and blow-molded plastic.
Kids Embrace is on the forefront of toddler pop culture with their lineup of popular characters.
We’ve shared our concerns about installing the Kids Embrace forward facing only combination car seats — the lower anchors can be difficult to access, and installation can be difficult because the cover blocks access to the belt path. This setup makes for a lot of installation challenges.
We are happy to report that Kids Embrace has heard our concerns! New versions of the seats will include orange webbing on the lower anchor connectors and top tether. While that’s a truly fantastic change, we’ve got even better news about Kids Embrace combination seats: a more accessible belt path is in the works. While bright covers and colorful characters make these seats compelling, it’s always the ease of installation that makes us fans of any seat. We’re thrilled to see Kids Embrace moving toward making that critical piece of a car seat easier.
Spoiler: we got a sneak peek at some exciting new characters that are headed to store shelves soon! STAY TUNED!!
We always enjoy stopping by the Chicco booth! We got a chance to see their new MyFit combination seat. Chicco has been very receptive to feedback and will be tweaking some elements to make the seat a bit more comfortable. We also were happy to hear about the new NextFit Zip + which will feature a new infant insert and a lower minimum weight of 4 pounds! We’re hopeful that this new version of the NextFit Zip will allow smaller babies to fit in this well-loved convertible seat, so we look forward to checking that out further! Our team also loved seeing (and touching!) the new patterns on their ever popular Keyfit 30 rear facing only seat.
We love when we have the opportunity to see brand new seats and boosters at these shows – and Peg Perego had two seats to show us! First, we saw the new Kinetic convertible car seat.
This new variation on their 5-70 convertible car seat has side impact absorbing pods, an anti-rebound bar that folds under the seat, and an insert to give the child more legroom rear facing. It also features brand new inserts to improve the fit for its tiniest occupants!
Not only that, the belt path is SO MUCH MORE accessible than on the previous version of this seat, which featured a belt path that at times ate hands. We’ll definitely take a closer look at this improvement when we review the seat.
The Shuttle Plus booster seat is basically a combination of the Flex 120 high back and the Shuttle backless boosters.
Diono had been hinting that they have something new up their sleeve, but we couldn’t believe it when we saw their booth. They are revamping their entire seat lineup! The Radians we know will be replaced by a new group of convertible and multimode car seats, with new names and some important changes. The top tether will have an adjuster similar to the tethers we see on many Graco seats. The lower anchor connectors will be changed, the side wings on the seats will be deeper, and the infant insert will be more robust than the current versions of these seats.
In addition, these seats will come in many exciting new colors and patterns.
We’re seeing a trend toward “smart seats” that alert caregivers about a variety of critical issues. Baby Trend is no exception — they’ll be introducing their version of this technology.
We were especially impressed with the new Bluetooth capacity of their chest clip: the Connected Gear app can do all sorts of things! It will help with installation, monitor the chest clip, alert caregivers or backup caregivers if necessary, and automatically register the seat with the company. Ideally, this technology will streamline the process of communicating recall notices with consumers.
Since vehicular heatstroke is a preventable tragedy, we welcome any and all new ways to help prevent it. We’re eager to see how Baby Trend’s technology helps caregivers prevent vehicular heatstroke.
We also got a peek at their new rear facing only seat, the Ally. This seat fits small infants very well and features European belt routing when installed without the base.
Our friends at Britax had some news to share: fabulous new fabrics! Britax is introducing new Cool Flow fabrics to keep the kids cooler in their seats. In addition, Britax will be partnering with Nanotex to fit some of their seats with special stain-resistant fabric. We enjoyed trying this out, as a bead of coffee (hey, it’s what we had on hand!) simply rolled around on the sample piece of fabric as if by magic.
Britax is also debuting their new Skyline High Back booster, which is quite roomy inside with sleek lines! This booster is high back only. It ships fully assembled and includes 2 optional dishwasher-safe cupholders. Removing a cupholder can often make a big difference in a 3 across situation working or not, so we’re excited to see additional options that could help with the most challenging setup of all.
Evenflo had some exciting news to share – a new all in one car seat! The EveryStage multimode seat goes from newborn to booster! Featured on this seat is Evenflo’s new Easy Click latch system, which tightens the lower anchors by pulling a handle to the side. We were able to see a prototype of this seat.
This update adds about an inch to the top harness slot, and has an enlarged belt path to make seat belt installation easier. If you’ve ever installed a car seat with a narrow belt path, you’ll appreciate this change as much as we do!
But wait! There’s more! Evenflo joins the movement toward different colors for the top tether and introduced a new red tether adjuster. This small but important change should help alert caregivers that the top tether is a required piece of their child’s car seat!
We’ve met the Sirona convertible car seat a few times already, but it’s about to arrive in stores at last! This convertible seat features an exciting new tech update, the SensorSafe 2 app. This multi-use app can alert a caregiver if the chest clip is not undone, store the seat’s own manual and help with installation by linking to video clips and information about your car’s equipment. The SensorSafe 2 app is particularly exciting, as it can not only automatically text phones but can provide a map of the location of the seat. We applaud Cybex for implementing technology that can help prevent heat deaths and look forward to trying it out!
We also got to see the new Aton M rear facing only car seat.
The load leg has 3 positions to provide a much larger range of fit than previous versions. It extends from about 8.75 inches (great for center seats) to just under 21 inches. A total of 3 indicators tell parents when the load leg is properly extended (straight down, not angled), making contact with the floor, and that the carrier is properly locked into the base. We’re excited about the new anti rebound base with load leg and tensioning plate lockoff (yes, it will be a true lockoff!) on this stylish rear facing only seat.
Over at the Combi booth we took a look at the refresh of their Kombuk Air-Thru booster. This booster has extendable belt guides and a 19 inch top shoulder belt guide. Stay tuned, we’ll review this booster soon!
This year’s visit to the JPMA Show brought our intrepid media the chance to reconnect with our favorite manufacturers and make some new friends along the way. While the show was a little smaller than last year’s and our team had to work a lot harder to get there, we still had an amazing time! We can’t wait to see these new seats in action!