Monthly Archive:: November 2011

Out and About with the Cybex Aton

Ah, the Aton.

I first fell in love with this seat at Lifesavers in March. At the time, I was newly pregnant and not planning on using an infant seat this time around…until my eyes fell upon the lovely, colorful little capsule that is the Cybex Aton.

Shortly after the seat arrived on my doorstep, and shortly before my baby was born, it looked like the seat would be short-lived in the United States as the US distributor seemed to be getting out of the car seat market. I wondered whether there would even be a point in writing a review. Then word came that the Aton will indeed be sticking around, and there was much rejoicing.

The Safest Family Vehicle for 2012? (No, it’s not a Volvo!)

Looking for a model that received top overall ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS crash testing programs?  Something big enough to protect your precious cargo but with better handling and visibility than a full size, truck-based SUV?  Something flexible enough to seat a big family and still have some room for cargo?

Here are two great options:

2011-2012 Honda Odyssey- Perfect crash scores all around and great seating flexibility for large families up to 8!

Don’t want a minivan? 

2010-2012  Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse or GMC Acadia: 5 star overall NHTSA rating and IIHS Top Safety Pick!



We have a couple honorable mentions if you don’t need to seat more than 4-5 passengers:

2011-2012 Chevrolet Cruze- Compact car with good fuel economy and perfect crash test ratings all around if you don’t need a big family hauler.

The 2011-2012 Volvo XC60 with the innovative City Safety feature.  Our tester was finally scheduled to arrive back in June, but due to factors beyond our control we could not obtain one for review and unfortunately we cannot recommend it outright.

Not coincidentally, www.informedforlife.org rates these models very well, too!  There are plenty of other models that are very safe for your family.  You can find more great choices by checking out their website along with results at www.iihs.org and www.safercar.gov .  Looking for advice?  Check out our Car Safety forum, too!

Amazon Deals on Britax, Clek, The First Years & More!

Through November 15th – purchase a Britax Boulevard 70 convertible carseat from Amazon and get a Britax Travel Cart for FREE (a $79.99 Value!)  *Blvd 70 CS models not included in promo.  Place both items in your cart (make sure the Blvd 70 is in stock and shipping from Amazon, not a 3rd party merchant) to receive discount.

All Baby Bargain Monday Deals



‘Shroom My Ride

Mushrooms. You can stuff them, fry them, or slice them onto pizzas. They can serve as homes for fairies or perches for toads. In Super Mario Bros., they can be friend or foe. And someday they might be part of…car seats?

This month, my son is studying fungus. I have to admit I was less than thrilled with this prospect, but what I have read with him has proven fascinating. Besides having learned about fungal spores that turn ants into zombies, I also discovered Ecovative, a company that makes a Styrofoam-like product entirely out of plant matter and mushroom roots.

To make this product, called EcoCradle, they take agricultural plant waste (like oat or rice hulls) and pour it into a mold. They infuse it with mushroom roots, and let them grow around the plant matter. About a week later, they stop the growth process (before mushrooms or spores can develop) and voila! You have a completely natural, biodegradable, petroleum-free alternative to EPS or EPP foam.

There are companies already using EcoCradle to ship their products and others investigating its use. Dell uses it to ship some of its hard drives, and Ford is looking at it to replace 30 pounds of petroleum-based foam in its cars–including the bumper. That’s no small potatoes! Er, mushrooms.

Although technically not a foam, EcoCradle has similar energy-absorbing properties. It’s also fire-resistant and VOC-free.

Of course that got me to wondering if the EPS or EPP foam commonly found in car seats could be replaced with EcoCradle. After all, car seats are essentially large chunks of plastic and foam, with a limited lifespan. They need to be tossed after 5-10 years, or even sooner if crashed. With car seat recycling programs few and far between, most car seats wind up languishing in landfills. Wouldn’t it be nice if even a small part of the seat could leave a smaller impact on the environment? (And unlike plant-based plastics that usually require a special commercial-grade composter to break down, EcoCradle will biodegrade in a garden or landfill.)

I know what you’re thinking: If it breaks down so easily, is it really a good choice for car seats, which are often subject to apple juice spills and potty training accidents?

EcoCradle can withstand tropical shipping conditions, but I asked a company representative about moisture concerns in a car seat. He said that a waterproof barrier would probably be necessary because, like with wood, moisture will eventually absorb into the material. So there are a few kinks to work out.

The rep said they haven’t explored car seats as an application, but said it could feasibly work. So if any car seat manufacturers are reading this, I think it would be awesome to look into mushrooms as the potential for a greener car-seat future.

In the meantime, I’m going to design a bike helmet lined with EcoCradle. The product’s name? Mushroom Cap.



Diono Radian RXT Convertible Review: A New Generation

Diono has introduced a new generation of convertible seats based on the previous Sunshine Kids Radian line. The main new feature of these carseats is that they can become highback booster seats—they’re now 3-in-1 (rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster). The Radian R-series, the R100, R120, and RXT, all have basically the same shell design but features distinguish them from each other.

  Rear-Facing Weight Limits Forward-Facing Weight Limits Booster Weight Limits Features
R100 5-40 lbs. 20-65 lbs. 50-100 lbs.
R120 5-45 lbs. 20-80 lbs. 50-120 lbs.
  • added structural support for higher ff weight limit
  • infant support pillows
  • memory foam under bum
RXT 5-45 lbs. 20-80 lbs. 50-120 lbs.
  • added structural support for higher ff weight limit
  • infant support pillows
  • memory foam under bum
  • adjustable head wings
  • shoulder belt guide for booster use is attached to head wings


This review is for the RXT model, which rear-faces from 5-45 lbs., becomes a forward-facing seat for 20-80 lbs., and can become a booster for 50-120 lbs.