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Chicco NextFit Convertible Updates – October 2013

All Chicco NextFit convertible carseats made during or after October 2013 have some minor updates. The harness strap covers are now entirely optional and remove easily thanks to Velcro on the sides. These new strap covers lack the grippy material that lined the back of the original strap covers. The new strap covers are also slightly shorter as you can see in the comparison picture.

 

 

The 2-position chest clip can now be used in either the more narrow or wider setting with no restrictions – use your best judgement. Newborns and younger babies with narrow shoulders will benefit from the more narrow setting which will draw the harness straps closer together and keep them positioned properly over the baby’s small shoulders. Older babies and bigger kids can use the wider setting. When you switch is entirely up to you.

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The crotch strap has also been lengthened just a little bit. The new crotch strap is almost (but not quite) 1″ longer. Replacement [longer] crotch straps will be available after March 1.

  photo (64)

 

You can order NEW style harness pads directly from Chicco here.

Chicco NextFit -new harness strap covers

If you own a Chicco NextFit made prior to October 2013 – you may remove the harness strap covers that came with your seat, if desired. Please carefully follow the removal directions provided by Chicco here:  http://www.chiccousa.com/nextfit/pdf/NextFit_Pad_Installation.PDF

The replacement directions in the link above were written prior to the update 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 here: http://www.chiccousa.com/nextfit/installation.aspx  (the link to the 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, this is an existing video meant to detail the process of swapping out the original 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.

 

Britax Update – FAA Certification for Frontier 90, Pinnacle 90 & Pioneer 70 Harness-2-Booster Combination Seats

All current Britax Harness-2-Booster Combination Seats (Frontier 90, Pinnacle 90 & Pioneer 70) will be certified for aircraft use in early February. This change will be retroactive to all current models, and an FAQ and addendum will update this on the Britax website soon. An updated manual will follow in early February.

 Britax Frontier 80 FAA Certification Label

 

The updated instructions for airplane installation will instruct you to route the aircraft’s lap-only seatbelt in front of the ClickTight compartment. This installation method will ONLY be approved for installation on an airplane. Since the Pioneer 70 lacks the ClickTight feature, you will route the plane’s lap belt the same way you normally would on this particular seat.

More details to follow soon. We’ll share ‘em when we have ‘em!

 

Chicco NextFit – Harness Strap Covers *Update*!

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.

http://www.chiccousa.com/nextfit/pdf/NextFit_Pad_Installation.PDF

 

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. :)

 

IIHS Check Fit Booster Ratings and the Britax Frontier 90

Considering buying a Britax Frontier 90 or Pinnacle 90 Harness-2-Booster seat?  Maybe you already bought one, based on our reviews or because they appeared on our recommended seats list?  Perhaps you have recently seen or heard that the IIHS did not give your carseat a “Best Best” or “Good Bet” rating and you are now wondering if it is safe to use?  Don’t Panic!  “Check Fit” does NOT mean “Unsafe”!

So what does a “Check Fit” rating from the IIHS mean?  Quite simply, it means you have to check how well the booster fits your own child, in your own vehicle.  Install the booster in your vehicle, buckle and route the seat belt, all according to the instructions in the owner’s manual.  Ideally, the lap belt should be fairly flat on the upper thigh, not up on the tummy.  The shoulder belt should be centered on the shoulder; it should not be falling off the shoulder or rest on the child’s neck.  What if it doesn’t fit well?  Keep using it for now to keep your child safe and read on for some suggestions to improve the safety for your child!  For more on booster fit, please see CarseatBlog’s coverage of the 2013 IIHS Booster Ratings.

The first important thing to note is that the new 2013 IIHS Booster Ratings are not results of dynamic crash tests.  Second, they do not consider ease-of-use or additional safety features at all.  The evaluations are only measurements of seatbelt fit to an average 4 to 8 year-old child using these seats in booster mode in a few vehicle seating scenarios.  Finally, these ratings DO NOT apply at all if you are using these or any other combination booster seat in the 5-point harness mode.  In regard to harness use, CarseatBlog agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics, “All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their [5-point harness] Child Safety Seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age. There is a safety advantage for young children to remain in Child Safety Seats with a harness for as long as possible before transitioning to booster seats.”

How does the IIHS know if a booster will fit your child and vehicle?  Good question!  They evaluate booster fit on a standard dummy, representative of a typical 6-year old child, measured in four scenarios that mimic real vehicle use.   What if your child is a different size than the dummy or you have a vehicle that varies significantly from any of their test scenarios?  That could mean the booster fits somewhat better or worse than the rating suggests, but overall the ratings should still provide meaningful comparisons.  CarseatBlog recommends that parents consult the IIHS Booster Ratings, as they are a great place to start and generally reflect a range of children and vehicles.  We do caution that their evaluations do not always apply directly to every possible combination of child and vehicle.  That means that a model that earned a “Best Bet” may not fit ideally with your child and vehicle.  Similarly, a model that earned a “Check Fit” rating may provide a good fit for your child, in your particular vehicle.

So, a lower rating does not necessarily mean your child is less safe, unless you check yourself and find the belt fit to be marginal or poor in booster mode, of course.  For example, I found the seatbelt fit of a Britax Frontier 90 (“Check Fit” rating) in booster mode to be very reasonable on my 8-year old child in a couple of popular vehicles, a Toyota Highlander and Prius.

 

As mentioned in the video, it is worthwhile to note that the Britax Frontier 90 and Pinnacle 90 have among the highest seated torso height limits for the 5-point harness system of any combination harness/booster carseat.  That means most kids can use the harness until they are 8 years old or possibly even older.  That is a very safe option if you did happen to find that the seatbelt did not fit your child well in booster mode, especially on younger or less mature children who may benefit most from the extra points of restraint in a 5-point harness system.