Our intrepid reporter is on the ground at KIDZ IN MOTION (KIM), the National Child Passenger Safety Conference. This conference brings together manufacturers and CPS professionals to discuss child passenger safety and showcase exciting new products.
After a very, very long day traveling across the country, I got into my hotel room and took a nap which ended up being 12 hours long. By 5 this morning, I was more than ready to go, and what a day it has been!
Multiple manufacturers had an opportunity to present today. Some were able to share new and exciting news about upcoming or updated products, but it was truly lovely to hear from everyone, and particularly lovely to hear the passion and heart the manufacturers have for their field. I got the impression that every single one of these guys believes in his or her work and truly wants to advance the field of child passenger safety. So, without further adieu, a quick update, and pictures where appropriate.
The biggest news in Chicco land is that after several years of the Strada being discontinued, Chicco is introducing a new seat, the KidFit, which is a dedicated belt positioning booster. They did not have a sample at their booth, so unfortunately, no hands on details are available yet. Chicco is including wording in their manual to make it clear to parents and caregivers that children must have the maturity to sit correctly in a seat belt before using the seat; I commend them for being so specific and careful to make it clear how important booster maturity is. The KidFit will be available in January 2015, is LATCH compatible with a front-adjuster pull strap, and has collapsible cupholders.
With regard to the wide-spread confusion on fit of child in the NextFit in rear facing mode, Chicco confirms the ONLY restrictions are standing height limit of 50″ and standing weight limit of 40 lbs. When asked whether that still applied if the child’s head exceeded the limit of the head rest with the harness coming from at or below the child’s shoulders, the company representative stated she believed that was a highly unlikely scenario. We encourage our readers to contact Chicco directly for any more clarification on this issue.
The Fllo was the topic of discussion today. A more affordable version of their convertible line, the Fllo is also several pounds lighter. It has an optional but recommended anti-rebound bar, and an integral recline foot that is positioned differently for rear facing and forward facing (unlike Foonf’s removable foot). It will allow the use of lower anchors for installation up to 35 lbs in rear facing mode, and 40 lbs in forward facing mode. Unlike the Foonf, it will NOT permit the combined use of lower anchors and seatbelt for forward facing installation.
This manufacturer of many different products for children with special needs was pleased to discuss the Carrot 3. It’s incredibly modern and comfortable looking in comparison to the original Carrot many of us are familiar with. Rated from 30 to 108 lbs and 37″-60″, it is a belt positioning booster that utilizes a five point harness. I observed during the presentation that with the number of pieces you could add and take away, it is essentially a Common-Building-Block-Toy-Many-of-Us-Are-Familiar-With-and-Has-Recently-Been-Featured-In-a-Well-Known-Movie car seat. The basic version of the seat almost doesn’t look like the same product when placed next to the fully tricked out version.
Most interesting to note: despite the fact that it is a belt positioning booster, it is FAA approved. I had a chance to catch up with Sally Mallory, and she explained to me that the flexibility of the seatback (it can recline up to 180 degrees and moves forward as well), meant that it was compatible with airline seats, which are designed to swivel forward on impact, and the lap only belt does not pose a risk to the occupant.
This of course does NOT apply to vehicle belts. A vehicle seat back is fixed and does not swivel forward.
Important to note for special needs technicians: the Carrot allows add ons that create up to a 22″ seat depth, and there is no overhang restriction, regardless of how much sticks out.
Cybex talked briefly about their Aton 1, 2, and Q line as well as there X-Fix and Q-Fix. No new seats on the market, although I’ve been secretly hoping for a very long lasting rear facing only seat, the kind intended to go from roughly 9 months to 4 years.
Dorel definitely stole the show today with BIG news about two of their most budget friendly seats. Those in child passenger safety, whether it be technicians, instructors, advocates, or parents, are well familiar with the Cosco Scenera, and the Cosco Apt 40, two workhorses working for families all over the continent.
The Scenera will be re-released 1st quarter 2015 with multiple updates to the design we know so well, and they are GOLDEN!
1. The rear facing limit is being bumped from the 35 lbs and 36″ that hampers many parents in their efforts to remain rear facing to a robust and industry standard 40 lbs and 40″.
2. An additional harness position is being added to the bottom of the seat, at the 5″ mark, making the seat a sure bet for all but the tiniest newborns.
3. The entire shell of the seat has been redesigned, with a smoother, more intuitive design and fewer sharp corners. A grippy surface is being added to the base, and Dorel believes that the new design will reduce the need for pool noodles in achieving the correct rear facing angle.
4. The standard cupholder has been trimmed down and seems to be somewhat more stable.
5. Best of all, Dorel kept the price point in mind. The changes are only going to increase the seat’s market price by a few dollars. $46.00 is the predicted retail price.
I should note that the top harness position of this Scenera appeared to be shorter than that of the original Scenera, but this is a pre-production model. Anything can happen in a few months.
Cosco Apt 50:
You read that right! And this isn’t just an updated weight maximum with no practical application (as we all know, increased weight maximums don’t do any good if the harness doesn’t fit the child’s torso, and the Apt 40 carries a remarkably short top harness position). A new harness position has been added to the Apt 40, about 3″ above the current position.
This model is merely a mock up, created with a dremmel tool and a pair of scissors taken to the current Apt 40. There may of course be additional design changes before the seat hits the market. The predicted MSRP is $60.00.
Graco doesn’t have anything new currently in production, although they did just release the 4Ever and the Milestone. The Milestone, which we will review in detail in a few weeks, has a very unusual level line, compared to Graco’s standard recline bubble with an acceptable range. The reason for this will be revealed in a few weeks. I was also informed at the booth that the new Graco Argos 80 is going to become the Graco Argos 70. I’m curious if this will play out as I had not heard it before.
Britax spilled the beans on the 14th about their new Click Tight convertibles, but, now having had the opportunity to play with one, I can say they DEFINITELY were worth the hype. The hardest part of the install was …no wait. It wasn’t hard. At all! We’ll have a full review in a few weeks, so I don’t want to give too much away right now, but rest assured, Britax has outdone themselves with this incredible convertible.
Diono is introducing a new product! KIM attendees were lucky enough to be the first people to lay eyes on it, and in fact we were each given one to take home.
It is a car seat for gerbils.
I also got a chance to check out the new Cambria, which should be shipping shortly. Very nice, smooth, modern feeling covers, and surprise, a peek under the cover revealed no EPS or EPP foam. The seat is made primarily of blow molded plastic.
As many of you know, the new Diono convertibles are being shipped with an added pair of harness pads for children weighing more than 65 lbs. The manual tells you to refer to the directions for use; opening up the velcro on the pad reveals the directions. Diono is currently working on making the instructions more readily apparent to parents and caregivers.
Evenflo did not announce any new seats, although they mentioned some of their new ‘technologies’ that increase comfort for the occupants, including the “ProComfort Series” recently released on several of their current seats. It consists of a gel pad in the seat area that helps to absorb pressure points for children who are unable to shift their position in a 5 point harness.
In addition, their representative did note that they were aware of parents’ concern about the lack of strap covers, and were working on it. As we know, added padding can create a substantial difference in how seats crash test, so what might seem like a minor detail actually requires significant work from a manufacturer’s end.
It’s not a name that we’ve previously seen in the car seat world, but Kids II has been involved with children’s products for a very long time. Some may be more familiar with it as the parent company of the ubiquitous “Taggie” products familiar to and loved by many toddlers. Their “Ingenuity” line is introducing a new rear facing only seat to the market this fall, the “In Trust Pro Infant 35”. It comes with the standard long lasting features we’ve come to expect: 4-32 lb and 32″ harness limit.
They’ve incorporated several features into their new seat, but the one they’re most justifiably proud of is the harness adjustment and positioning system.
While many seats require you to place the harness and the shoulders and then tighten the seat (or sometimes, even, thread the harness to the correct position, and then move the head rest to the correct position, and THEN tighten the seat), the In Trust Pro 35 does it all in one step. Tightening the harness adjuster draws the head rest and the harness down to the correct position at the child’s shoulders. Images coming later!
This company works to retrofit commercially available RECARO seats to be appropriate for special needs children. A German company, its name translates to “Thomas Helps”.
The Monza Nova is essentially the Performance Booster, with an included positioning-only 5 point harness. Other modifications include a swivel base with rigid lower anchors that allows the seat to be rotated toward the door for easier loading and unloading, and a foot rest.
The Performance Sport is available with added bolsters to give added support. In addition, the Thomashilfen Performance Sport retains the 90 lb harness limit the RECARO Performance Sport lost with the updated FMVSS 213 guidelines that became standard in February of this year.
****Check in tomorrow night for KIM: Part 2!****