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Monthly Archive:: October 2012

ABC Show Day 3: A Little Baby Trend, Some Nuna, A Pinch of Clek, Throw in Combi and . . .

Baby Trend

Baby Trend, Baby Trend, what can we say? Hmmm, not much. They swore us to secrecy. BT doesn’t like to keep their customers waiting for their products, so we honestly can’t say much or they’ll peg us with really wet spitballs. They have some new fashions, for sure—very pretty. OK. Just be on the lookout for something new and old at the same time. But it’s revolutionary. There. That’s it. We really don’t want to be picking spitballs out of our hair.

      

Nuna

And then another little company came along and surprised us. Nuna is a Dutch company with lots of Euro styling. The PIPA (pronounced Pippa, like Pippa Middleton), was released in Europe last spring and they brought it to the show to make us drool. With rigid LATCH, a solid lockoff for seatbelt installs, and a load leg, the base installs easily and the infant seat is light (7.7 lbs.) with an aluminum handle that can be in any position in the vehicle. The release handle for the infant seat is on the base, which keeps that carrier nice and light. The canopy unzips to allow a thin SPF-rated “DreamDrape” cover to come all the way down to attach with magnets near the baby’s feet. Indicators on the base tell you when the seat is snapped onto the base. Keep in mind that the photos you see here are of the Euro carrier and the base is in early PROTOTYPE stage and will change. Expect to see PIPA by the end of next year. Let’s hope they keep the red—it’s simply to die for, dahling!

        

 

Combi

Combi is working on a Cocorro adapter for their new Catalyst stroller. It’s a pretty cool stroller. Oh, and we saw a red cover on the Cocorro!

They also had a Japanese seat there called the MGT. Sometimes they bring things like that over so maybe it’ll come, maybe not. But it went from 5-65 lbs. And it had the smallest egg crate foam under the bum area I’ve seen. Let’s call it parakeet egg crate foam and it was on top of EPS foam.

 

Clek

Seems we just can’t leave Clek alone. Sorry! They were able to get the Foonf rated to 50 FIFTY cinquante pounds REAR-FACING! Can’t seem to shout that any louder, lol. WOW! We know that just made your day. Another piece of news is that in some of the tweaks they made to the shell during finalizing the seat, they moved the crotch strap to keep it from interfering with the rf belt path. Here’s a picture showing measurements ’cause we know you also live for pictures.

 

SnoozeShade

Remember the SnoozeShade infant seat cover review I did back in June? They have a newer version coming out in March,  just in time for next summer. It has a large pull-down flap for easier access to baby and a zip across the top still allows you to check quietly to see if baby is snoozing or awake.

 

ABC Show Day 2: Chicco and Clek

We’re here after Day 2 at the 2012 ABC Show and it’s been another long, hard, tough day as you know if you’ve been following us on Facebook. We thank all the manufacturers who have given us their valuable time and lent us their ears to bend so far to show us great products!

Chicco NextFit 

5-40 lbs. rf
22-65 lbs. ff
Up to 50″ tall

This brand new convertible seat from Chicco has dropped the “65″ from the name and will be the plain ol’ NextFit, though there’s nothing plain about it. Where do we start? OK, let’s start with the–count ‘em–9 recline positions for rear- or forward-facing. This will be an excellent seat for special needs kids who need recline! Since rear-facing kiddos will be allowed to rf to within 1″ of the top of the headrest (with an overall 50″ height limit to the

carseat), those 9 recline positions will come in handy for putting older rfers more upright. For the young baby, there is an infant cushion to fit newborns to 11 lbs. so they fit to the bottom slots. A 2 position crotch strap is available for the child’s comfort.

Top slots measure 17.5″ with 25-26″ to the top of the headrest. Nice lockoffs are available for seatbelt installations, but who wants to do that if you have LATCH available? Really, use the SuperCinch LATCH tightening system on this seat. We’ll show you in a video how it works. If I can do it with my poor phone-traumatized fingers, anyone can! It has a steel frame and EPS foam.

*In this video, I show installation by attaching one lower LATCH connector at a time. Both connectors should be attached before pulling slack from the first. Then, pulling the slack from the second will be like slicing a piece of ice cream cake with a hot knife ;).

 

  

Harness height adjusts from the front AND as the harness gets higher up, guess what gets wider? Should we hold a contest? Nah. Too easy. The harness gets wider to accommodate the bigger kid. Nice! Also, the 2 position chest clip expands for larger ff children.

  

Canadians, we do love you! It’s coming up your way, but you’ll have to wait awhile. No date given.

$279

    

Clek

There’s a funny story behind Clek and some duct tape. Really, trade shows bring out the worst in some people (Darren!).

What the Foonf! Well, the rf belt path has been moved back so it doesn’t interfere with the crotch strap. The crotch strap has also been moved back (sorry!). We didn’t get a measurement (see 1st sentence of blog), but we will go back and measure–promise. The hip straps also have been moved from the butt area to the very bottom back area so they truly will come over the hips, like a seatbelt fits. The top slots have also been straightened, instead of being angled, and the harness will now have what we like to call “newborn loops,” that extra length of strap looped at the end of the harness so you can lengthen it when a baby gets too big to fit in the smaller length.

      

If no top tether anchor is available, Clek mandates ff installation with a lap/shoulder belt because tethering helps the seat perform optimally. However, they don’t want to penalize consumers who may not have tether anchors in their vehicles or may not have them in the seating position they wish to place the carseat in. Due to Foonf’s open beltpath design and the built-in lockoff device for the vehicle’s shoulder belt that is mounted up high near the top of the shell – the seat still performs well in testing when installed with a (3-pt) lap/shoulder belt but no tether. They acknowledged that the seat must pass NHTSA’s injury criteria testing (and it does) using a lap-only seatbelt or using just the lower LATCH anchors (without tethering) but they are not comfortable allowing that type of installation and will consider it a misuse.

There’s no price on replacement covers yet–it’s a complicated issue, really. The headrest isn’t easy to deal with in replacement, so Clek is tossing around ideas with how to manage replacing the cover and the headrest cover. Keep in mind that the Crypton covers that are GREENGUARD Select certified are super easy to clean, so you may not need to replace it.

The New Diono StratoFIX

Check out our video on the new rigid offering front-facing only seat from Diono!

$349

This model is a European prototype right now.

 

Box Hoarders Unite!

I am not a hoarder. I’ve seen the sad episodes on talk shows of people who live in homes with paths to their beds that have a tiny spot on which to sleep. My own grandma was a bit of a packrat. But I am not a hoarder, not even close. I am a collector.

If you walked into my house, you’d look around and think, nope, not even a collector. This woman and her family live a pretty sparse life (until you look in the children’s rooms—gah!). Even the dog has only 2 toys. But wait until you see the attic. Boxes upon boxes, all empty. Therein lies the collection. When my dh and I were first married, we were pretty unstable where we lived. He was in law school and we moved twice in those first 3 years, then 3 more times in the year after he graduated. By the time we moved into our current house, we had moved a grand total of 9 times in 8 years and we weren’t military. After our first move across country—and across Arkansas!—we learned to keep original boxes to keep items in good condition, hence the box collection.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to paint my dd’s room, which necessitated moving all her furniture out to give me some room. We were using the space under her captain’s bed for storage and since she’s getting older, I’ve decided to move that stuff out so her things can go under her bed. Where to put all that junk that’s under her bed? (For the record—it’s my mil’s!) Up the ladder I went to the attic and discovered my collection of carseat boxes. Heh. So many! So many for so many seats I no longer have! Really, though, I did have to keep them in case I had to ship a seat back to a manufacturer (I’ve done it) or ship a seat to a friend (yep, done that too). Have you ever tried to MacGyver a box to fit a carseat? Really tough, I tell you. It’s easier to break them down flat and store them, only I didn’t do that with the ones in the attic.  We had the luxury of a little bit of space up there, so we pitched them off to the side and forgot about them. After pulling them out of the attic, plus a few other boxes of items I knew we no longer had, it turns out I had 2 boxes for carseats I no longer have and 2 more for carseats that will be expiring soon! Plus I have at least 3 other carseat boxes stored flat in my garage.

Dh decided to continue my attic box removal and brought down perhaps 10 more. We also had 2 large boxes sitting in our living room that held dd’s new bedside tables. I so wish I had a window open when the recycling guy came by to pick up all our boxes. The amount of cardboard sitting on the curb was epic, but I do feel better recycling it rather than throwing it away like most of my neighbors. Next we’ll be getting rid of all of our ancient computers that have long been broken and sitting around the house gathering dust.  I might have to make artwork out of the hard drive platters—they’re actually quite beautiful when you take the drives apart. But that’s for another blog. Just remember, it’s not an obsession—it’s a collection.

Flying with Kids & Carseats – the checked carseat controversy

The issue of how to best handle flying with kids and their carseats is something that comes up repeatedly on the Car-Seat.org forum. Many safety-conscious parents will bring the carseat with them knowing that their child will need to use it once they reach their destination. I applaud all those parents for doing the right thing! However, for a variety of reasons, most parents don’t actually bring the carseat onto the plane and use it for their child during the flight. I suspect that many of those checked seats that I see on the baggage carousel belong to children who wound up as lap babies on the flight. For the record, here at CarseatBlog we always recommend that you buy a ticket for your child (regardless of their age), bring their carseat and use it on the plane.

Regardless of why parents chose to check their carseats, the fact remains that most travelers flying with CRs in tow do check them instead of lugging them through security and using them on the plane. And seats checked with regular luggage probably get tossed around and manhandled the same way luggage does. I somehow doubt that the baggage guys suddenly look at the carseat and decide to handle it with care so they don’t crack the EPS foam, know what I mean?

But what if you’ve already traveled with your carseat and checked it? Perhaps even multiple times? Is it still safe to use? That’s the controversy.

There are some child passenger safety advocates that will argue that a checked carseat could have sustained significant damage during the time it was out of your sight and should be replaced as a precaution. Some might actually go so far as to suggest that the checked carseat is now “as good as crashed”. I personally think that stance is a little over the top but I understand the logic behind those opinions. I’ve seen how beat-up my luggage is sometimes when I reach my destination. Plus, many frequent flyers have witnessed first-hand some of the abuse that luggage endures as it’s loaded and unloaded from the aircraft.

What we’ve lacked in the past is any type of official policy or statement from the CR Manufacturers regarding checked carseats.  The instruction manuals are full of do’s and don’ts and even show us how to install the [harnessed] carseat properly using the lap-only belt on the aircraft. But there has been absolutely no attention given to encouraging use of the CR on the plane, and subsequently no mention of what you should or shouldn’t do if you’re flying but not planning to bring the carseat on board.

Just recently, the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety issued a statement for CPS Technicians/Instructors on the subject:

Car Seats Gate-Checked or Checked as Luggage
Car seats are designed to withstand most motor vehicle crash forces. In general, the MACPS does not consider a gate-checked car seat or a car seat that is checked as luggage to be one that has experienced forces equivalent to a motor vehicle crash. Once the destination is reached, it is recommended to inspect the car seat to make sure no visual damage has occurred and all aspects of the car seat function properly.

(August 2012)

 

I think that’s certainly a reasonable policy but I would really like to see all CR Manufacturers take it a step further and include language in the instruction manuals that encourages the use of the CR on the plane and discourages checking it with regular luggage. Gate-checking the carseat should be encouraged if and when it isn’t possible to use it on board the aircraft for the child. If nothing else, a gate-checked seat is much less likely to be lost than a seat that was checked with luggage.

I appreciate that the MACPS has taken the time to address the issue. I trust that they looked at the issues seriously. I’m not a carseat engineer, nor do I play one on TV, so I’m going to defer to them on this issue and trust that they know what their products can withstand.

On this end of the table, we’re going to continue to advocate for securing children in aircraft with the same passion and dedication that we have for securing them in motor vehicles. With that in mind, let’s list the top DO’s and DON’Ts of flying with kids and carseats.

  • DO buy a plane ticket for your child, even if they are under age 2. Lap babies can be seriously injured during turbulence and in cases where emergency maneuvers are required (aborted take-offs, emergency landings, etc.)
  • DO use an FAA-approved child restraint with a 5-point harness for kids under 40 lbs.
  • DO bring your child’s carseat to the gate even if your child is under age 2 and you haven’t purchased a separate seat for them. Most flight attendants will make every effort to seat you next to an empty seat (if the flight isn’t full) in order to accommodate your properly restrained child.
  • DO gate-check the carseat if it’s not possible to bring it on board and use it for your child. Items that are gate-checked have less opportunity to be mishandled and are much less likely to be missing when you land.
  • DO know your rights! Well-intentioned but misinformed flight attendants can ruin even the best laid travel plans so be prepared!
  • DON’T check your carseat with your regular luggage if you can help it.
  • DON’T rely on car rental companies to provide an appropriate child restraint. There have been too many horror stories over the years regarding outdated, dirty or lack of available appropriate seats.
  • DO your homework and read our previous blogs on kids, carseats & airplanes:

 

Check out our related blog posts on flying with kids and carseats:

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

An Open Letter to the FAA