I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of infant seats. I understand why people like them, but they’re just not for me. That’s why I was surprised to find myself wowed by the new Cybex Aton infant seat–to the point that I just might get one for my upcoming baby.
The seat, which was due to hit the Cybex warehouse this week, accommodates children from 4-32 pounds and 30 inches. It features three handle positions, though the handle must be up in the car. The angle indicator will allow for a more upright installation for an older/heavier child.
For smaller babies up to 11 pounds, the Aton also features an EPS foam insert that is placed under the cover to create a greater internal angle. It wasn’t clear whether that insert is required or optional up to 11 pounds, but I’m sure that will be clarified soon.
The two things I liked the most were the easy-to-install base and baseless install that uses European belt routing.
First the base.
To install, you route the seat belt or LATCH strap under a belt tensioning plate, which looks like a giant lever. You remove the slack (but don’t tighten as much as you would for a “traditional” install), then push down on the lever. If you do it right, it will automatically lock into place, like so:
It’s not entirely foolproof, but it’s pretty close. If you tighten the strap/belt too much, the lever won’t close. If you don’t tighten enough, the seat will be loose. The good thing is that both problems will be evident right away, and it’s easy to try again.
I will also say that I was a bit scared that I’d smash my fingers under the tensioning plate, but during my many visits to the Cybex booth I didn’t witness any casualties. The Cybex reps seemed to think I was crazy for even suggesting it as a potential problem.
The other aspect I really liked was the baseless install. The reps said that they actually recommend the baseless install over one with the base because the crash tests were, apparently, phenomenal without the base.
Some infant seats can be difficult to install well without the base, or feel unstable once they’re installed. Not so with the Aton. That seat was installed SOLIDLY, probably due to the European seat belt routing (which goes around the back of the seat) and its relatively flat base.
Note that when installed baseless, the seatbelt does need to be locked at the retractor, latchplate, or with a locking clip.
Since I wouldn’t remove the seat from the car very often, I had visions of leaving the Aton installed baseless and just slipping my baby in and out. But the belt path doesn’t leave much room to slide the child’s feet in, plus, since the handle needs to be left up in the car, it seems like it would be difficult to lift a child over both the handle and the seat belt. (It is possible to put the handle down while it’s installed that way, but it’s also a bit awkward.) For those reasons, it’s probably better to use this method if you really will be removing the seat each time. Although I didn’t have a baby with me, it seems like it would be very easy to install with a child in the seat.
The Aton will retail for $199. Cybex strollers are available starting at $149, plus it will fit on other strollers that use the Maxi-Cosi car seat adapters. The Aton should be hitting stores (select Babies R Us, specialty stores, and online) this month, so keep an eye out for it!
UPDATE: I got clarification from a Cybex representative on two issues. First, the foam infant insert is recommended, but not required, up to 11 lbs. Second, I misunderstood when Cybex said they recommend European routing of the infant seat. They don’t prefer it over using the base. However, when installing the seat baseless, they do prefer routing the belt around the back vs. not (which is an option).