Update: See our most recent blog on the subject: Chicco NextFit Convertible Updates – October 2013
Chicco USA has issued the following statement regarding the NextFit convertible:
Chicco is committed to creating state of the art products which meet the strictest safety standards and the ease-of-use features our consumers expect. The original shoulder harness pads used on the NextFit have been used in Europe for over 10 years with great success. However, after input from our U.S. consumers who have used the NextFit, Chicco conducted more testing without the harness pads and with a new harness pad design. The NextFit performed very well with and without the current pads, as well as with a new removable shoulder harness pad design. The new shoulder harness pads developed by Chicco for the NextFit are easily removable. All NextFit car seats, regardless of harness pad style, meet or exceed not only Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, but also Chicco’s internal safety standards.
All NextFit car seats manufactured after October 1, 2013, will have removable harness pads.
Consumers who wish to purchase these new harness pads, will be able to order them after January 1, 2014. To order, go to www.chiccoshop.com/gear/replacement-parts/ or contact Chicco Customer Service at 877-424-4226.
We don’t have a picture of the new harness strap covers yet but as soon as we do we’ll share it here.
*UPDATE: Below is a link to Chicco’s specific instructions on how to remove the harness strap covers. If you want to remove the harness strap covers on your NextFit model made prior to Oct 2013 you MUST follow these specific instructions for removal. Removing the pads in any other way could result in messing something up and possibly making the seat unsafe for your child. I’m not going to go into the “whys” right now so just trust me on this one!
These “replacement” directions were written prior to this update announcement so you can ignore the language that says “Never use your NextFit car seat without shoulder pads”. Just follow the directions on how to remove them, put the chest clip and buckle tongues back on properly and reattach the harness safely. *At the end of the process, once the harness pin has been fully re-inserted, check to make sure that the plastic tab is back in its original position preventing the pin from moving forward again.
There is also a video detailing the process on the Chicco website. Again, this is an existing video meant to detail the process of swapping out the current harness strap covers with identical replacement strap covers so you can ignore the language that warns you to never use this product without the harness pads.
http://www.chiccousa.com/nextfit/installation.aspx (the link to this video can be found in two places: on the left side of your screen under “Shoulder Pad Replacement Kit” or under the Rear-Facing Videos “Installing Shoulder Pad Replacement Kit”). Again, at the end of the process, once the harness pin has been fully re-inserted, check to make sure that the plastic tab is back in its original position preventing the pin from moving forward again.
I just want to add that we really love that Chicco listened to feedback from parents and caregivers and worked quickly to provide options and alternatives to NextFit consumers! Child preferences, parental preferences and situations vary widely so having various options (something to please everyone!) is greatly appreciated.