This year marks the 3rd time we’ve sent a team to the JPMA show. This ginormous expo brings together many of our favorite car seat manufacturers and gives them an opportunity to show their latest and greatest offerings. From our perspective, it gives us a chance to see those offerings in a well-lit expo hall and ask the kinds of nitpicky questions that you’ve come to expect from us. The show is a bit smaller than it’s been in the past so we’ll represent our visit in one article instead of in daily roundup articles. Since we had a fabulous Canadian among us, we lovingly referred to the show as JPM-eh!
Despite the website and email from JPMA indicating otherwise, the floor was not open to the media Wednesday afternoon as planned. While we were a bit disappointed to not be able to check out the car seat selections early, we took some time exploring Orlando and shopping at Disney Springs, so all was not lost!
We woke up bright and early on Thursday and arrived at the Orange County Convention Center just as the doors were opening to the media.
We strolled around the showroom floor, ending at the Britax booth to attend their exciting announcement about their brand new multimode car seat – the One4Life.
We were very thankful to be able to stream the reveal live on our Facebook page, and our fabulous team was somehow able to whip up a quick preview article about the One4Life in no time at all!
After the Britax presentation, we crossed over to the Diono booth to speak with their brand representative. She showed us their new terrycloth Summer Cover for their convertible seats.
Some of our teammates thought the Summer Cover made the seat look like it was dressed up as a snowman for Halloween. This cover will protect the seat cover from wet kiddos in the summer months and help with overheating in the seat. We bet this item would also be great for children who suffer from motion sickness, since it removes easily for washing. This item is still in the planning phases, so we should see it on the market after some adjustments.
Diono Everett NXT
We also took a look at the Everett NXT fix booster seat. We’ll be reviewing this seat for you very soon! The Everett NXT fix has a 21 inch top shoulder belt guide position, a 15 inch lowest belt guide position, a height adjustment lock that will help prevent the headrest from falling down during use, and one cup holder that can be installed on either side of the seat, or removed altogether.
Our favorite part about the Everett NXT fix was the rigid lower anchors and how lightweight the seat is – only 8.5 pounds, which is kind of unreal for a booster with rigid lower anchors.
The Everett NXT fix does not convert into a backless booster, but it ships in two pieces and requires assembly. It also has a strap to connect the two pieces.
At the moment, the manual includes a warning to “not use it in any configuration other than in this manual.” We are a bit concerned that caregivers may not read the manual and will disassemble the seat to use it as a backless booster.
We also got to see Diono’s premium 3RXT fashion. It’s called Vogue and features a wool cover, upgraded finishes, and premium styling.
There was also an eye-catching display of the new Diono brand two2go. It’s two-packs of a variety of accessories, including their kickmats and stroller fans. This seemed like a great idea for caregivers of multiple children. Or perhaps those with multiple vehicles, or people who tend to lose things.
After our Diono visit, we went back to Britax for an appointment to ooh and aah over the One4Life. Their brand representative is clearly excited about the seat, and we are too!
Britax had half of a car seat on display. After wondering where the other half was, we paused to admire how this ClicktTight convertible car seat was cut in half to show off all the structural features.
Side Trip: Sun-Staches
All of this car seating helped us work up an appetite so we grabbed lunch, then headed back to the show floor for a visit with KidsEmbrace. We got to see their line of booster and combination car seats. KidsEmbrace shared a booth with Bummis and Sun-Staches and were featuring their licensed superhero product lines, because who doesn’t love superheroes!
The team from Sun-Staches was kind enough to give us some of their amazingly fun sunglasses, and we made sure to wear them all over Orlando! Our kiddos were thrilled with these great glasses when we got home!
The KidsEmbrace combination seats are now shipping with thicker harness webbing. This updated webbing can also be ordered for seats that did not come with them.
KidsEmbrace listened to consumer feedback about the harness twisting easily and the chest clip sliding too easily, and the thicker harness webbing seems to have solved both issues, which is great! They are also working on adding slits to the seats’ covers which will make accessing the belt path and installing the seats much easier.
We are so very grateful that KidsEmbrace is listening to consumer feedback and making changes as needed – kids love their character seats so anything and everything that makes their use and installation easier gets a big thumbs up from us!
GoodBaby (Evenflo and Cybex)
After our KidsEmbrace appointment, we ran over to Evenflo and Cybex. Okay, maybe we walked and got distracted by shiny things as we made our way to the booth. Once we finally arrived, we saw the new Evenflo Gold line, currently available exclusively at EvenfloGold.com.
This line of premium seats all feature the SensorSafe chest clips, premium soft goods, and a sleeker style. In addition, Evenflo Gold car seats include a 100 day trial and a lifetime warranty, including crash replacement if the seat is registered within the first 3 months following purchase.
The Gold line also includes four new awesome fashions for the SecureMax rear facing only car seat, noting that 3 out of the 4 are the same colors as the last few editions of the LATCH manual! It has a fantastically detailed base and upgraded LED SensorSafe chest clip. We’re excited to take a closer look at this seat in an upcoming review.
Evenflo LiteMax DLX
The LiteMax DLX rear facing only car seat has a retail price of $169. It really caught our attention! The LiteMax DLX has a no rethread harness, good preemie fit (without head slump), premium lower anchors and a load leg. Evenflo has been working together with many hospital NICU units to ensure that their rear facing only seats not only fit preemies well, but ensure the baby’s head is positioned safely to protect their vulnerable airways. It’s hard to tell but this fabric, Mallard, has some subtle, yet very cool camo print on it.
Evenflo EveryStage DLX
While we were playing with the Evenflo EveryStage DLX, we noticed that the lower anchors were tangled in the harness, so we obviously took the time to fix them before moving on. Hey, it’s what we do!
The Evenflo Triumph isn’t a new seat by any means but it’s got the TrueTension harness adjustment that some families love so we gave it the attention it was due by twisting the harness adjustment knob and admiring the plush, updated fabrics before moving on.
After checking out the rest of the Evenflo lineup we headed over to the Cybex booth. We were intrigued by the new Cybex Cloud Q cover that is manufactured from recycled bottles – what a cool concept!
This display showed how that process works and how the recycled materials magically become a car seat cover.
Cybex Sirona S
Moving on, we visited the Cybex Sirona S – the S does not stand for swivel… we asked! This seat was receiving a lot of attention, so even though we had an appointment we had to wait our turn to get our hands on the seat.
There were a few pre-production models available to look at, but the one that was installed was the one we (and everyone else) couldn’t wait to get our hands on. Seriously. The line to touch the Sirona S was longer than the coffee line.
With a 6 inch bottom harness position, it may fit newborns well. We did notice some pretty severe head slump with our Huggable Images doll, but we’ll see how the production version of the seat fits our dolls and newborn models. The 16 inch top harness position would make the seat outgrown early in forward facing mode. Since this was a pre-production model, there may be changes between the version we saw and the final version.
We were pleasantly surprised to run into the mother and daughter team from UnBuckleMe after our Cybex appointment, so we took the opportunity to sit down and attempt to convince mom to take the CPST course! Her daughter has taken the CPST course since we last saw her at KIM 2018.
We love that they are taking those extra steps to ensure that their customers have all the help possible when reaching out to them with questions. We got a chance to see their new grey and white colour, exclusive to Nordstrom, and a pretty pink option sold on Amazon.
We finished the conference day by sitting down with a representative from JPMA’s PR team and the Executive Director of JPMA. They had lots of great questions for us about airplane travel, where we would like to see more regulations/education, and about Car Seats for the Littles, Inc. as an organization. We were honored to have been invited to a sit down with these ladies and we hope that we were able to provide them with some valuable information about Child Passenger Safety.
Thursday evening, JPMA cornered off a section of the Universal CityWalk to allow the JPMA exhibitors and media to attend a private networking party.
BabyCenter provided complimentary coach bus transportation from the hotels to the party. We enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with some of the brand reps in a less professional setting, and are very grateful to have been included in the evening’s events.
Friday morning we again arrived bright and early to take full advantage of our media access passes before the doors were open to the general public that afternoon. We started the day by meeting with our friends from Chicco. We convinced them to do a Facebook live for us on our Facebook page after we got a chance to check out the new items Chicco has to offer.
Chicco Fit2 LE
We started with the new Fit2 LE with a completely redesigned infant insert intended to provide an improved newborn fit. We’d mentioned how thick the original headrest insert was when we wrote our review. Chicco listened to our feedback and took a closer look at the insert! Today’s version of the Fit2’s headrest insert is thinner than the original and the insert on the Fit2 LE is even thinner than that!
The body padding is different on the Fit2 LE also. All of this adds up to an even better fit for the tiniest of passengers. In addition to the updated insert, the Fit2 LE’s harness adjuster mechanism is now similar to the one on the MyFit combination seat.
Chicco was showing an old friend — the KeyFit. This re-lauched rear facing only seat has a 22 pound weight limit, and is available at a lower price point than the Keyfit 30. Chicco’s brought back this old friend because so many families choose to use a rear facing only car seat from birth, but then switch to a convertible car seat a few months later, Chicco intends that the KeyFit is a budget-friendly option for those first few months. It ships with some marketing materials that introduce the NextFit Sport as the next step in their child’s car seat progression. Their goal is to meet consumer needs by offering their well known and well loved products at a more competitive price range, which is great!
Chicco NextFit Sport, NextFit Zip
We moved on to the different styles of the NextFit. The new NextFit Sport is a budget-friendly version of the NextFit. It does not include newborn padding, so it has a starting weight of 12 pounds, and a MSRP of $249. It also does not include slits in the cover to access the belt path, so for a vehicle seat belt installation, the caregiver will need to pull back the seat cover to access the belt path.
The NextFit Zip has a new MSRP of $299 and ships with Chicco’s lovely cupfolders, and the new NextFit Zip Air has an MSRP of $349 and a range of great features.
Chicco MyFit Zip Air
The MyFit Zip Air is the MyFit that we know, but with an innovative cover. The Air cover is basically a second cover that zips off, leaving the regular cover underneath. This cover offers improved air flow and a water-resistant backing to contain spills and liquids.
Caregivers spending the extra $50 for these versions of the MyFit are essentially receiving two covers for their seats – what a deal!
Reviewer Liz was pleased to see that this trim level includes a zipper that makes accessing the belt path MUCH easier. When she reviewed the MyFit, converting it to booster mode took an unreasonably long time. This change will make that so much easier!
Chicco also redesigned their standard cup holder to function better. The basic version of the cupholder will ship with the NextFit Sport, and other seats will ship with their signature cupfolder.
Chicco GoFit Plus
We were pleasantly surprised to then move to the BRAND NEW Chicco GoFit Plus backless booster. Chicco has patented their own premium lower anchor connectors and are debuting them on this new seat. This booster is incredibly easy to move from vehicle to vehicle while using the lower anchors. Lower anchors on a booster seat stabilize the seat and prevent the booster from becoming a projectile risk in the vehicle when the booster is unoccupied.
To “install” the GoFit Plus on the vehicle seat simply attach these lightweight lower anchor connectors that Chicco custom made for the GoFit Plus to the vehicle’s lower anchors and pull the strap on the front of the seat. The uninstallation is where things get interesting – simply grasp the lower anchor release handle at the front and pull it forward. The anchors will loosen first and then detach from the vehicle anchors in one smooth motion. With a MSRP of $49.99 we can see this booster being a great carpool option for big kids who don’t like climbing into a sliding booster seat.
After our visit with Chicco we had a quick coffee break with our friends at Harmony Juvenile Products. While they were not at JPMA in an official capacity, we took some time to catch up and introduce ourselves (as not all of us had met in person yet – only over email and phone!). We also ran over to the Cybex booth again to get measurements and additional details for the Cybex Sirona S (which again does not stand for swivel), because our Facebook page followers had questions about dimensions and we wanted to be able to provide answers!
BabyTrend Cover Me 3-in-1
Our last appointment of the conference was with BabyTrend. We had heard about their new convertible with a built in canopy and were excited to check it out. The Cover Me 3-in-1 multimode car seat that has rear facing, forward facing, and high back booster modes.
We saw a pre-production model, so while the specs may change, the seat we saw had a 6 inch lowest harness position (which would be great for small babies, even preemies!), a nice smooth internal padding that could help with head slump, a 17.5 inch top harness position, and an 18.5 inch top booster shoulder belt guide. At this point the rules for the canopy are not known because the seat has not undergone any testing, but BabyTrend is hoping to be able to allow the canopy in all three modes.
BabyTrend is also working on a new convertible car seat – the Trooper. Rear facing and forward facing specs are not yet finalized, but the hope is to market it as a seat that can be used from birth until booster readiness. The model we saw has an 8 inch bottom harness position, an 18 inch top harness position, a bubble level, two cup holders, a width of 17 inches, and a target MSRP of $79.99.
With how narrow and lightweight the seat is, if BabyTrend is able to release it with the current high top harness position, the Trooper would make an excellent travel seat for use on airplanes (and everyday in three across scenarios).
BabyTrend Lower Anchor Connectors
At BabyTrend, we also saw a redesigned lower anchor connector for the rear facing only seats. The plastic housing has been pared down, leaving these connectors much more easy to use. They’re cleverly designed to be slid into the seat bight sideways!
On the show floor, we got a peek at the Pico by WayB. WayB didn’t have a booth, so we were surprised to see the Pico seat at JPMA. Pico promises to be an ultra compact and narrow option, which should be good for travelling. We will have a full review coming soon!
In addition to all of these fabulous car seats, there were a number of new vendors who have developed child restraints or child restraint accessories. While we enjoy chatting with the well-intentioned folks who have made these products, we’d sure like to see all of them get trained as CPSTs and learn about the federal safety standards for car seats before bringing their idea into the Child Passenger Safety world.
This JPMA was shorter for us, since we finished all of our appointments before family/new parent day this year, but we managed to cover a lot of new seats in a jam-packed day and a half. Meeting with representatives is always a fantastic opportunity for us to ask the technical questions our readers expect us to answer. Of course, part of the fun of these events is seeing one another and working together to make the show a productive one. Our expectations were definitely exceeded this year on that note!