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Celebrating the Brand New Cosco Scenera NEXT

Scenera NEXT FionaThis story begins back in August at the KIM Conference, when Dorel Senior Product Marketing Manager, Ryan Hawker, pulled Kecia and me aside and told us excitedly he had something to show us. That something was the Scenera NEXT and the official launch for this awesome little seat was on Saturday at the Dorel Technical Center in Columbus, IN, where they manufacture the NEXT and other Dorel carseats. Honored for the invitation to the launch, I had to battle Darren, Kecia, and Jennie for who would go to the event. Unfortunately for Darren and Kecia, they had already visited the Dorel Technical Center several years ago when it first opened; Jennie’s daughter, it turns out, had a recital that day. Win for Heather!

Technical center sign

The Dorel manufacturing facility is indeed enormous at 1.1 million square feet. They do everything here from designing carseats to 3D printing for testing to manufacturing to storage and shipping. We started our tour of the facility at the Technical Center. Everyone had done a great job of setting it up for fun! There were balloons anchored by locking clips everywhere. All employees were wearing Scenera NEXT t-shirts. The launch event wasn’t just a tour for the blog and two other invited dignitaries (That makes us sound important, doesn’t it? Ha!). No, it was for the families of those who work on the NEXT to come in and see what their family members do at work. This was the first time Dorel had done an event like this and also the FIRST time they’d gotten a carseat from idea to production in a YEAR. That’s unheard of in carseatland.

Scenera NEXT Fiona Scenera NEXT Minnie Scenera NEXT Realtree Pink Camo Scenera NEXT Bloom

We started in the foyer of the Technical Center where they had a few NEXT fashions shown, then we moved into a room with a big screen where they were showing a video of kids explaining the features of the NEXT. All 13 fashions of the NEXT were there—unfortunately it was very dark and there was no way I could get a good picture. Trust me, you’ll love them all. They had face painting for the kids off to the right in the open offices—you can tell this is a carseat company since there are carseats laying about everywhere. They weren’t just new carseats either. Ancient carseats in pristine condition lined one wall—oh wait, they’re still a few years younger than me.

1972 Cosco seat old seats 2 old seats 1

We next visited the 3D printing room where 2 printers work to make test pieces. When an engineer designs a part and wants to know if it will work a certain way, he or she sends a CAD file here and it’ll get printed up. Sometimes the part is sturdy enough to be installed on the test seat located in the room.

3D models

Just a few feet down the hall is the crash testing lab. They were running crash tests about every 5 minutes so everyone could get a chance to see one. The crash tests happen so fast you have to be standing and looking at just the right spot to see it happen. Even then, if you blink, you miss it. That’s truly how fast it happens. Fortunately, they had a slo-mo video at the other end of a different test that we all shuffled down to watch. Because they weren’t setting up a new seat after each test, I asked Ryan if they had ever done multiple crash tests on a seat before. He said they hadn’t and were using this as an opportunity to see how this carseat held up. I didn’t look carefully at the seat they were using, but I believe it was Safety 1st Complete Air.

On our way to see the NEXT actually being molded, we came across 2 carseat mold forms—about 4′ tall—sitting on the floor. Ryan explained that the mold comes in 2 halves, which are pressed together under great pressure. The plastic is injected into the mold, cooled, then removed from the mold by robots for more cooling, removing of sharp plastic bits, and label application. Next the seat shells are transported by conveyor belt to human hands for wicked fast assembly of the rubber plugs that help the NEXT grip the vehicle seat, harness adjuster strap, tether assembly, harness, LATCH strap, and cover. The final step in the process is a computerized camera and laser quality assurance check that makes sure *everything* on the carseat has been assembled perfectly. If it hasn’t, an alarm is sounded and it gets pulled and checked for errors. Each carseat is stored in a database so it can be tracked if a customer calls about it.

mold injection mold machine injection mold machine 2 injection mold machine 3 injection mold machine 4 injection mold machine piston assembly line

We ended our tour where most employees begin their day: at the Shining Star wall. When they clock in, employees pass a wall filled with stories where Dorel carseats have saved lives. Handwritten thank you letters with pictures of carseats and crashed vehicles are posted on the wall and a notebook is kept to the side to keep older letters as new ones arrive. It goes to show that when you share your story with the people who create the carseat your baby rides in, whether your baby is a few hours old or several years old, they know about it and appreciate it.

Dorel Shining Star wall

After going through the facility and meeting the people behind Dorel and Cosco, I came away with a powerful feeling of family and pride. We ran into many 2nd generation employees as we made our way through and they were so proud to share their jobs with us and their families, who had never been to the factory floor before. All the families were dressed up and it was clearly an important and fun day for everyone and all for the launch of a new little carseat destined to take the carseat world by storm.

We have a mini-review of the Cosco Scenera NEXT in our Comparison of Budget Priced Convertibles under $100 and will have a full review soon. Stay tuned for a giveaway! The NEXT is available for purchase for $49 from Walmart.com.

Of course, my trip to Indiana would not have been possible if not for the invitation from our Cosco friends and 360 Public Relations. Thank you for sharing the day with me and allowing me to see your processes and the pride behind the products.

Comparison of Budget-Priced Convertible Carseats under $100

Parents are in a great position today if they need a convertible carseat priced under $100. These seats don’t have all the bells and whistles that the fanciers carseats do, but they get the job done of keeping children secure in crashes and have the added advantage of being lightweight, which make them great as travel seats. We compiled this comparison of budget-friendly convertibles currently available to help you find what meets your needs.


Cosco Apt 40 RF

Review: http://carseatblog.com/17513/cosco-apt-review-does-it-compete-with-the-scenera

Cosco Apt 40 RF

Who it’s designed for: infants and toddlers
Who it fits: infants and small toddlers
Rear-facing weight limits: 5-40 lbs.
Rear-facing height limits: 19-40” or top of head even with top of seat shell
Forward-facing weight limits: 22-40 lbs.
Price: $54.99


  • Very lightweight
  • Fits infants very well
  • Dual rear-facing recline levels
  • Installs easily with both seat belt and lower LATCH connectors
  • Made in the USA


  • Short
  • Must adjust harness lap belts for use on lowest harness slots
  • Very wide at cup holders
  • Very low top harness slots

Basics and Measurements

  • 5 harness slots
  • 8 year expiration
  • FAA-approved
  • Harness slots: 5.5”, 7.5”, 9.5”, 11.5”, 13.5”
  • Buckle slots: 3”, 4.5”, 6”
  • Internal seat height: 23”
  • Seat pan depth: 12”
  • External widest width: 21” at cup holders, 18 ¾” at shoulders
  • Weight: 8.0 lbs.
  • LATCH anchor weight limits: can use LATCH to maximum 40 lbs. weight limit


When I first received the Apt in its box, I thought for sure the box was empty because it was so light. It was right when I first injured my shoulder and couldn’t lift anything—but I could lift this box! The Apt was designed on the Cosco Scenera platform: lightweight and easy to use with some extra features. In designing the Apt, the engineers wanted to make it as easy to use as possible, so they removed the “kick stand” that the Scenera has for changing the seat between rear-facing and forward-facing modes. They also added some cup holders because we Americans like to stuff things in cup holders and we pass that trait on to our wee ones. The only problem is with how they added the cup holders: they’re integrated into the shell on both sides of the seat so that it makes the seat very wide. The top harness slots are also extremely low on the Apt, so once a child hits the rear-facing weight or height limit on it, it’s likely not going to be able to be used as a forward-facing carseat. If you’re into super cute carseats, the Safety 1st arm of Dorel has a Mickey and Minnie Mouse version of the Apt. In the 1st quarter of 2015, Dorel has plans to release an updated version of the Apt. The Cosco Apt 50 will be rated to up to 50 lbs. in the forward-facing position and includes 6 sets of harness slots with the top set being around 16″ and a price point of $65.

Cosco Apt front Cosco Apt back Cosco Apt without cover Cosco Apt side Cosco Apt Romeo Cosco Apt RF Cosco Apt FF

Cosco Scenera

Review: http://carseatblog.com/2813/dorel-cosco-scenera-review-a-true-workhorse

Cosco Scenera

Who it’s designed for: infants and toddlers
Who it fits: infants and toddlers
Rear-facing weight limits: 5-35 lbs.
Rear-facing height limits: 19-36” or top of head even with top of seat shell
Forward-facing weight limits: 22-40 lbs.
Price: $39.00


  • Very lightweight
  • Fits infants well
  • Installs easily with lower LATCH connectors
  • Narrow
  • Made in the USA


  • Short
  • Single length harness strap
  • Sparse padding

Basics and Measurements

  • 8 year expiration
  • FAA-approved
  • Harness slots: 7″, 10″, 12.5″ 15″
  • Buckle slots: 4″, 5.5″, 6.5″
  • Internal seat height: 23″
  • Seat pan depth: 11.5″
  • External widest width: 17.5″
  • Weight: 7.4 lbs.
  • LATCH anchor weight limits: can use LATCH to maximum 40 lbs. weight limit


The Cosco Scenera is a small seat. Back in the day, it was like any other typical 40 lbs. harnessed carseat, but in today’s world of 65+ lbs. harnessed carseats, it’s petite. That makes it a great travel seat, but it also makes it outgrown quickly—typically around age 3, well before a child is ready to move to a belt-positioning booster seat. So keep in mind that while this is a very fantastic carseat for the price—$39—you will need another harnessed carseat for your forward-facing child. Dorel (Cosco’s parent company) is introducing a brand-new version of the Scenera in 1st Quarter 2015, called the Scenera NEXT, which will rear-face to 40 lbs. or 40″, have 5 sets of harness slots, and still be under $50. You can read more about, and see pics of the Scenera NEXT, at our KIM Conference Update blog post. The Scenera NEXT will also have Cosco’s first set of labels requiring rear-facing to age 2.

Look-a-like seats: Safety 1st onSide Air (same shell as Scenera but has AirProtect technology and a full-wrap cover)

Cosco Scenera front Cosco Scenera back Cosco Scenera without cover Cosco Scenera side Cosco Scenera Romeo Cosco Scenera RF Cosco Scenera FF


Cosco Scenera NEXT (coming soon)

Scenera NEXT

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The Wrong Belt Path!

Have you ever had your carseat installed by a well-intentioned family member or friend and it just seemed off somehow? When you went to put your child in the seat, it tipped really easily?

Duhn Duhn Duhn! It was installed using the wrong belt path!


Use the wrong belt path and the carseat won’t protect as it should. In a crash, it will rotate around the belt path and if that belt path is several inches away from the seat belt/LATCH anchors, the results could be disastrous.

Using the wrong belt path isn’t limited to rear-facers. It can be even more damaging to forward-facing kids if the tether strap isn’t attached. In these situations the child’s head can be slammed into the vehicle seat or front center console that’s in front of them, or even the side pillar structure of the vehicle.

Rear-facing or forward-facing – it’s vital to make sure that you are installing the carseat using the correct belt path!


Watch this video from the Child Passenger Safety Board demonstrating using the wrong belt path. The carseat on the left has the seat belt threaded through the rear-facing belt path (incorrect). The carseat on the right has the seat belt threaded through the forward-facing belt path and the top tether attached (correct).

What can you do? Look for labels marking the correct belt path. They’re there. Read the manual that came with the carseat. If you can’t find it, look online or call the manufacturer and they’ll send you a new one. Give your kid a fighting chance if the time comes that the carseat is needed as a safety device.