It’s autumn — time to head back to Cologne, Germany for one of the world’s biggest trade shows for children’s products – Kind + Jugend 2019! Our intrepid European team descended on Cologne via train, plane, and automobile for three days that were packed full of all things car seats.
Kind + Jugend: Day 1
Our first day started with a quick walk around the convention center to get our bearings and see what new and exciting things we could find on the show floor. Our first big surprise of the day was seeing RECARO back in the car seat business. It turns out the brand has been acquired in Europe and they’re back to manufacturing car seats!
We expressed our surprise and got a tour of the current lineup. We saw most of the older RECARO car seats, only with some new improvements like an easier to use ISOFIX system on their booster seats and new product names, as well as a few totally new options.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any photos in the booth. The best news of all is that RECARO seats sold previously will still be supported by the rebooted brand; replacement pieces are also still available for seats made from 2016 on by contacting them directly. Welcome back to Europe, RECARO!
We wandered on after that surprise to discover a totally new brand, Avova. They’ve just launched earlier this year, and currently have three seats in their lineup — the Star and Star-fix i-Size boosters which are usable up to 150 cm, and the Sperling-fix harness-to-booster forward facing car seat which harnesses until 18 kg and can then be used as a booster until 150 cm. Welcome to the market, Avova!
Our first scheduled meeting of the day was with BeSafe. It was great to meet up with them and have a look around at their offerings. Their new iZi Twist seats offer cushiony comfort in a rotating car seat that can only be used rear facing up to 105 cm or 18 kg.
Next up we popped over to Cybex, where we got to have a look at European and North American seats. We saw the SensorSafe chest clip, which helps prevent vehicular heatstroke. The European version of SensorSafe doesn’t interact with the vehicle in the same way that the North American version does, but has the same end result — fewer hot car deaths. We’re all for it!
Chest clips aren’t required on European car seats, but the i-Size regulations do allow for them. This makes the SensorSafe chest clip a bit unusual for this market.
Cybex’s new lie-flat rear facing only car seat, the Cloud Z i-Size, can be used with the Base Z ISOFIX base. This means it can actually rotate towards the vehicle’s door to allow for easy loading and unloading when you’d rather leave the carrier in the car. Later, the same base can be used for the Sirona Z, which has a weight limit of 18 kg.
The new Solution S i-Fix booster is Cybex’s first i-Size high back booster. Like all i-Size boosters, it has a 150 cm child height limit, but no weight limit.
After a super busy afternoon, we headed out on the town so we could refuel for our first full day at the show.
Kind + Jugend: Day 2
Our day started with a tour of the Diono booth. The most interesting find there was the Monterey 5, which is a foldable high back booster coming to European and North American markets. In Europe it will be i-Size compliant, meaning it can be used for a child between 100 and 150 cm tall. In Canada, it will be rated for children between 40 and 120 pounds. In the United States, the weight limits will be from 30 to 120 pounds.
The coolest thing about the Monterey 5 is how it folds up into a very compact package. It also includes rigid lower anchors, backpack straps attached to the back of the seat’s shell, and a single cupholder. At 6 kg it’s lightweight, and along with its quick and compact fold and built-in carrying straps, it could make for a great travel option. It should be available in February of 2020.
Another thing we loved seeing was the redesigned cover on the American Radian 3RX. The back of the cover has been cut out, making it much easier to see and access all the important bits (lower anchor connectors, Safe Stop, locking clip, top tether) that can be stored there. Snaps around the cover’s edge keep it in place and make it easy to take on and off for cleaning. In addition, the infant insert has been upgraded to be more contoured and with an added wedge to help properly position newborns.
Our next appointment was with Chicco. Their booth was very busy, but we were shown a lot of exciting new — and super secret No Photos Allowed — car seats for both the American and European market!
For our American readers, we were thrilled to see the new Fit4, a multimode car seat that’s rated from 4 to 100 pounds. It boasts a 40 pound rear facing weight limit and 65 pound forward facing harness weight limit, with a 25 pound minimum to forward face. That higher forward facing minimum encourages caregivers to keep their children rear facing longer.
The main motivator behind this seat’s design was very clear usage. It includes things like colour codes for each mode and prominent labels with limits for each stage making it easy for caregivers to use the seat properly. It also has nine recline positions (with multiple reclines available in each mode), seat belt lockoffs, and is approximately 19 inches wide. Our American team will be detailing a full review when it’s released, so you can read more about it then!
We were also shown the Keyfit 35 – no, that’s not a typo! A hybrid of the Keyfit 30 and Fit2, with a 35 pound rear facing limit and 32 inch standing height limit. And the best thing? It’ll have a no-rethread harness! The Keyfit 35 comes with a base – the Max base. Other Keyfits can use the Max base, but the Keyfit 35 can ONLY use the Max base. The Keyfit 35 will also have a rebound bar, and will allow EU belt routing for baseless installations.
Now, for the European market, we were excited to see their new i-Size booster. The Fold&Go i-Size has a top belt guide of 53cm, a clip between the legs, and as the name suggests, it folds! It could potentially be an awesome choice for travelling with a booster seat.
We were also excited to see Chicco’s new BebèCare easy-tech sensor as a form of heatstroke prevention. We’re passionate about raising awareness of heatstroke prevention, so we applaud any and all manufacturers who create a product to help combat these preventable deaths. The EasyTech sensor attaches to the car seat harness, but there are currently no plans to bring it to North America.
Cozy ‘n Safe
One of our impromptu stops on day 2 included the Cozy ‘n Safe booth. We were so pleased we stopped in, because in addition to getting hands on with the ever-popular Excalibur, we also saw a brand new forward facing car seat with a 25 kg weight limit.
The Hudson is unique in its installation rules — it can be installed with the vehicle seat belt or ISOFIX until the child weighs 18 kg, but after 18 kg it MUST be installed with ISOFIX and top tether only. This very lightweight seat has a no-rethread harness and a 44 cm top harness height. It can also be used as a highback booster until 36 kg. At 149 GBP it’s going to be a very attractive option for kiddos who need a forward facing harness for longer. It should be available in the UK by the end of 2019.
Our next discovery was the innovative Polish brand Avionaut who shared their light-as-a-feather rear facing only car seat, the Pixel. It boasts open sides for a better view for baby while still scoring a 2.0 on the Stiftung Warentest. It also has an interesting shelf-like insert that puts the baby into a more “hip friendly” position and allows their feet to touch the bottom of the car seat, supporting their legs and keeping them from dangling.
This seat can be paired with an ISOFIX base that can then be used with their Aerofix toddler seat when the child grows. The i-Size approved Aerofix has two versions; the rear facing only version has passed the stringent Swedish Plus test. We also got to see a new birth to 25 kg seat they’re developing, called the Sky. It’s still in pre-production, but it will feature the same shelf-like insert as the Pixel. Their Maxspace booster rounded out their car seat collection.
Our last stop for day two was Maxi Cosi who had a staggering SEVEN new seats to show us! The most intriguing was the brand-new Coral infant seat. This seat features a soft, removable insert that slots into a harder outer shell. The caregiver can carry the baby in the soft insert, which weighs only 1.7 kg. It’s i-Size certified and should be available in November.
We also got to see the new Mica, an ISOFIX swivel seat that can be used until the child is 105 cm or weighs 18 kg. With a nice low bottom harness height, this seat could work well for average size newborns. Since it’s an i-Size seat, it’s narrow enough to fit three-across situations in many vehicles. It will be available in November.
The Emerald is yet another new i-Size seat from Maxi Cosi. This seat can be rear facing until 105 cm (with the possibility to forward face after 75 cm), then becomes a booster until 125 cm. The load leg will tuck up under the seat when it’s used in booster mode. It can be reclined on-the-go and has a fairly wide range of recline angles in both rear and forward facing modes.
The last exciting seat we got to see was the new Morion. This is a more budget-friendly i-Size booster. It shares a lot of similarities with the Kore, but will be available at a lower price point. It will be available around January.
Another product we were thrilled to see was the new E-Safety sensor pad. The sensor pad is an anti heatstroke device that sits in the car seat and senses the child. It will send alerts if the caregiver’s phone is too far from the pad/car seat. If there’s no response, it sends a text with the vehicle location to two predefined contacts. This pad will retail for about 79 Euros and has easily replaced batteries that only need to be changed about every 4 years.
Kind + Jugend: Day 3
Our third and final day began with visiting our friends at Axkid. We were shown their new colours for the covers of their seats — hopefully the fan favourite Petrol will be remain in the product line!
Axkid’s Sensorpad is part of their heatstroke prevention initiative. It’s suitable for all of their seats, pairs with your phone, and will be available in December.
The Sensorpad is designed to know when a child is in the car seat — if the paired phone moves more than 10 m away from the occupied seat the app will send an SMS to the caregiver and a notification to remind you that the child is still in the car seat. It also has a temperature sensor for the child. For longer road trips, the Sensorpad will give a warning when the child is in the seat for too long, altering caregivers that it’s time to stop and remove the child from the car seat for a stretch/bathroom/snack break. The Sensorpad displays this alert at one hour for infants, two hours for bigger kids, and four hours for booster seats. It will also include fitting (installation) videos for the car seat or booster seat that it’s registered with. One charge via USB lasts for 8-10 months. It’s also waterproof and can be used under the seat fabric. It’ll retail for around 90GBP or 99 Euros.
Next, we took a look at the new Big Kid highback booster. It includes ISOFIX, and comes in black or grey. It has removable side impact protection that only goes on the side closest to the vehicle’s door. The model we saw had very cushy padding and a cupholder. It has four recline positions,and a top belt guide of 51cm.
Axkid also had a super secret exciting new seat hidden away in a back room that only a select few could go see. Alas, we were not among the select few, so we’ll have to wait until November along with the rest of you to find out what it is!
Next up, we headed down to Britax to see what they had up their sleeves. Most of the new seats were upgraded and updated versions of old favourites. The Dualfix2 R is based on the original Dualfix, but with the original niggles ironed out. It has a good newborn fit with the optionally available newborn insert, can be rotated and reclined in any position, a smaller rebound bar, and a slightly changed headrest. The Dualfix2 R will have a lower price point than its i-Size approved counterpart.
Next up we got to see the Advansafix i-Size. This is based on the Advansafix IV R, with pretty much the same measurements. In booster mode, the Advansafix i-Size features Britax’s newly redesigned XP pad on the shoulder belt — this new pad has been designed with less friction so the shoulder belt retracts more easily through it. The weight limit on the Advansafix i-Size will also be higher than the Advansafix IV R, though it has not yet been finalised.
The absolute highlight of our visit to Britax was their scaled up Dualfix VR experience! This adult size Dualfix treats riders to a simulated car journey and minor collision. Our team reports that the seat is *super* comfortable and would like to know when we can get one to ride in a real car!
After our simulated crash we ran upstairs to visit with Nuna and Joie. We got to see several exciting new seats from both brands!
The new Nuna Pipa Next is based on the Pipa Lite LX, but with one super big change — it can be installed baseless! This is great news for caregivers who want a fantastically light seat like the Pipa Lite, but who also want the flexibility to use it virtually anywhere. At 2.6 kg the Pipa Next is only slightly heavier than the Pipa Lite. It also features a no-rethread harness, and a redesigned base. The base has ratcheting ISOFIX, rather than the fixed-length arms seen on the Pipa Lite base, and the load leg indicator has been moved to make it easier to see.
The new Arra is Nuna’s lie-flat infant seat. It reclines to 157 degrees, making it very flat for newborns. Like other lie-flat infant seats, it can’t be installed baseless.
The Basq is a new swivel i-Size seat for older babies. Suitable from 61 to 105 cm, it features the same level loading system seen on the Rebl Plus.
The Tres was the most intriguing new offer from Nuna. The age range is listed as birth to 12 years. It rear faces with a vehicle seat belt install until 18 kg. It cannot be used with a harness forward facing, this encourages longer rear facing use — something we definitely support!
When the child is ready for a booster seat, the harness tucks away and the Tres can be installed with Isosafe connectors. It can then be a booster with four options for recline until 36 kg.
Over on the Joie side of the booth, we got a look at a slightly redesigned i-Gemm 2. This updated seat features a flatter headrest to help minimise the child’s head getting pushed forward. We’ve seen caregivers complain about this, so it’s a change we’re happy to see!
We also got a look at the new i-Quest, which is a follow-on seat for the i-Base LX used with the i-Level infant seat. The i-Quest features automatically deploying side impact protection, a progressive insert like that seen on other Joie seats, and magnets designed to hold the harness buckle tongues to conveniently keep them out of the way when loading and unloading the kiddo. Children can use this seat until they weigh 18.5 kg or are 105 cm tall.
The Spin Safe and the i-Spin Safe are based on the Spin 360 and i-Spin 360 respectively. The main change is that the Spin Safe seats are rear facing only, allowing them to pass the Swedish Plus test.
The last exciting seat we got to see was the new i-Traver. This i-Size booster will be available sometime in the first quarter of 2020, and is based on the popular Traver high back booster seat.
Our very last stop for the year was at Graco’s booth. We got some interesting news there — from 2020 they will no longer market any of their R44 approved infant seats. Instead, they’ll focus on their new i-Size seats like the SnugEssentials i-Size. This budget friendly i-Size approved infant seat is under 100 GBP for the carrier, making it a safe and reasonably priced i-Size compliant option.
We also got confirmation that the Milestone has been discontinued, with the new SlimFit and SlimFit LX taking its place. We were very pleased to see that the SlimFit can rear face to 18 kg — much better than the Milestone’s 13 kg rear facing weight limit! The SlimFit LX’s main difference is that it features optional Isofit connectors for forward facing. However, the seat belt is still required even with the Isofit connectors in use.
The final seat we got to see was the new Ascent. Unfortunately, this seat is not going to be marketed in the UK. Designed for the Scandinavian market, it’s rear facing only and has a 19 kg weight limit. It has passed the Swedish Plus test and uses the same base as the Snug Essentials.
After a whirlwind three days we were all exhausted, but we had a fantastic time getting together with old acquaintances and making many new ones along the way. We can’t wait to do it again next year!