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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. :)

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Winter Coat Suggestions for Kids in Carseats

snowconePumpkin Spice lattes, falling leaves, Christmas decorations showing up on store shelves even though it isn’t even Halloween…it can only mean one thing: It’s getting colder, and your kids are going to need winter clothes.

Michelin-man-style snowsuits might be fine for sledding, but in the car they can be dangerous. Too much bulk means that the harness won’t tighten properly against the child. In a crash, that extra bulk can compress, leaving a too-loose harness, and leaving the child inadequately protected.

So what can you do?

One option is to have your child take her coat off before she gets in the car. Then after she’s buckled, she can slip her arms into the backwards coat.

But what if your kids don’t want to take off their jackets? No problem–just look for something car-seat-friendly.

What constitutes a good coat for the car seat? Anything that doesn’t add extra bulk to the child will do. That might be a sweater, thin fleece, or a squishy down jacket.

To see if your child’s outerwear is ok for the car, put it on your child, put him in his seat, and tighten the harness. Then, WITHOUT LOOSENING THE HARNESS, unbuckle your child and take him out. Take off the jacket, then put him back in the seat and re-buckle. If there’s no extra slack (or just a teeny bit), the jacket is good! If there’s a significant amount of slack, consider another option.

 

Winter Coat Infographic

 

Those two jackets look pretty similar, but you can see how different they really are. In the first photo, my daughter is wearing a Snozu jacket. Without the jacket, the harness had no slack. (In fact, before I took the picture my daughter had been in the seat with no jacket. I didn’t need to loosen the harness at all to buckle her with the jacket on.) The second coat is another story. It’s your typical winter coat, and honestly, it didn’t seem that bulky to me…until I took it off and re-buckled. Wow! There was a lot of slack in that harness!

Here are some good jackets to try:

Last year I got my daughter a Snozu jacket from Costco, pictured above. (There are also some available from Amazon.) They squish down into almost nothing, so they’re perfect for the car. This year’s version has a thin layer of fleece inside, but still works well in the car.

People at car-seat.org also love the Patagonia Puffball.

Many have also said good things about the North Face Moondoggy.

LL Bean and The Gap both have PrimaLoft jackets that look very squishable.

This coat from Lands’ End also looks like it might work.

Besides working well in car seats, these options will also pack well in a backpack or diaper bag when you don’t need them. Safe AND convenient!

What great car seat coats have you found?

CarseatBlog’s Recommended Carseats List – 2013 Update!

The-Best-Ribbon

It’s been 12 months since we last updated our list of recommended child restraints. Some models have been updated, some discontinued and many new products have been introduced. A few weeks ago we started the process of revising and updating the entire list and after much thought and discussion we arrived at a consensus. Behold our Updated 2013 List of Recommended Carseats!

We acknowledge that many certified child passenger safety technicians have had it ingrained upon them that they are supposed to act completely neutral toward child restraints. All current seats pass the same FMVSS 213 testing, they are all safe when used correctly, etc., etc. In the class to become certified, most techs were told never to tell a parent that one child seat or brand is better than any other. Instead, technicians are instructed to tell parents that the best seat is the one that fits their child, installs well in their vehicle and is easiest for them to use correctly. Nothing wrong with that.

However, the reality is that once you’ve installed even a dozen different seats, you quickly learn that there are real differences. Some child restraints do tend to install better in general, while some really are easier to use in general. Features like lock-offs for seatbelt installations and premium push-on lower LATCH connectors do make a difference in the vast majority of installations but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every seat that lacks those features is a bust or not worthy of your consideration.

Several years ago, the mighty NHTSA started recommending seats. They didn’t make these recommendations based upon crash testing. No, they were made upon a subjective determination of factors relating to ease-of-use. Ironically, these factors were no more likely to apply to someone’s child and vehicle than the recommendations of an experienced technician! Enter another respected institution, the IIHS. A few years back they began rating booster seats based on fit to a standardized 6 year old dummy. Again, no crash testing whatsoever. Again, no guarantees that the results would apply to your child in your vehicle.

So, who is CarseatBlog to go recommending specific child seats? Well, Heather and Kecia are very experienced Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructors. Darren has been a certified technician for over a dozen years and has like a zillion websites on the topic. Our newest blog writers, Jennie (an experienced CPS Technician) and Alicia (nurse and former tech), are moms with younger kids who can actually use the infant seats and convertible seats that our own kids have long outgrown. We also like to think that we’ve earned a respectable reputation in the child passenger safety community of manufacturers, agencies and advocates. Most importantly, though, we’re just parents who have used a lot of different car seats. Collectively, we have 12 kids ranging in age from newborn to 16. We’ve been through every stage, survived every transition, and personally used an astonishing number of different carseats and boosters. Like many other products we use daily, we know which ones we tend to like in general, which ones we’d use without reservation for our own kids and which ones we are comfortable recommending to CarseatBlog readers and visitors.

With all that said, please take our recommendations with a grain of salt. They are merely opinions, after all. And while we did thoughtfully consider the pros and cons of each seat and combine that with our personal experiences with the product – there’s no crash testing involved. Some seats were omitted because we opted to include a similar model from the same manufacturer. For others, we simply didn’t have enough experience with the product yet to form an opinion. There are a number of products that we don’t mention, if only because a list of every seat we like would be too inclusive, so products that we don’t include may still be worth your consideration! Conversely, some seats we do list may just not work well for you, your child or your vehicle. We’re not saying these are the best or safest choices in child car seats, we’re just saying they’re models we think you should consider. If nothing else, it’s a good place to start when you are carseat or booster shopping!

Please feel free to leave a comment if you think one of our recommendations is rubbish or if you know of a product that you feel deserves a mention! Unlike some other organizations that think their word is the final one, we know our readers have experiences and opinions just as valid as our own!

Special Promotion for Amazon Mom Members – Extra 20% Off Select Carseats & More!

Britax Frontier 90 - ZebraHappy Labor Day! It’s officially September and that means sales and special promotions of Baby Gear! We love a good deal on a great product just as much as you do so we wanted to make sure everyone knew about the Amazon Moms Customer Appreciation Event!

Amazon Mom Members with Prime can use the promotional code BABY0913 to save 20% on hundreds of eligible baby products in select colors and styles, for up to $100 in total savings from August 28, 2013 through September 14, 2013 11:59 p.m. (Pacific time) and while supplies last. Enter the code once and all subsequent purchases will automatically apply the code to the qualifying items, for up to $100 in total savings. See full details. Discount does not apply to products sold by third-party merchants and other sellers through the Amazon.com site. Not an Amazon Mom Member? Join Amazon Mom now.

The 20% off discount applies to select offerings from Britax, Diono, Graco, Clek, Chicco, Recaro, Orbit Baby, The First Years, ERGObaby and more. It includes many popular seats like the Britax Boulevard 70-G3, Frontier 90, Pinnacle 90, Diono Radian RXT & Clek Foonf. There are also plenty of cool strollers and baby carriers eligible for the discount too. Just remember that you’re limited to a total savings of $100.

Diono Radian RXT - cobalt  Britax Blvd 70 G3 - Onyx  Graco Nautilus EliteGraco MyRide 65

As usual, the big bonus of ordering directly from Amazon is free shipping and free returns in case your purchase doesn’t work out for whatever reason. That’s important because the best advice is always to “try before you buy” but we understand that sometimes that just isn’t an option.

Click here to see the complete listing of all carseats eligible for this promotion.

Click here to see the complete listing of all strollers eligible for this promotion.