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2017 ABC Kids Expo Recap – New Carseats, Strollers & Gear for 2018

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This year’s ABC Kids Expo was a little smaller than in years past. A few major manufacturers didn’t attend and there weren’t a slew of new products, but there was still plenty to see and we always have a blast with our industry friends and colleagues!

CarseatBlog Team – Heather, Jennie, Kecia & Darren

Here’s a recap of this year’s show:

Britax

The newest car seat from Britax is the Endeavours, a rear-facing-only infant seat based on the B-Safe 35 Elite. What sets Endeavours apart is that it has an anti-rebound bar on the base and a European (around-the-back) seatbelt routing option. The mesh on the anti-rebound bar is removable for washing and will help keep kids from wedging their feet behind the bar. The base for the Endeavours is compatible with current B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite infant carseats, so if a consumer already owns one of those current models they can purchase the Endeavours base separately to use with the compatible Britax infant seat they already own. 

Britax has also launched the Spark collection for their existing seats. These seats have upgraded softgoods and will be available exclusively at the Brixy line of independent retailers.

On the stroller front, Britax has a new stroller called the B-Free. This stroller has tons of storage, including seven pockets and a basket that can be reached from the front or back. It has a single front wheel, a large canopy, and–best of all–has a 65-pound weight limit! It will retail for $349, and will also be available as part of a travel system with the Endeavours.

Chicco

NextFit iX is replacing the original NextFit model. New 2018 fashions are coming soon for all Chicco carseats (KeyFit, Fit2, NextFit iX) and KidFit boosters. There is a new product coming in 1st quarter 2018 that we can’t talk about (yet) but we’ll share that info as soon as we get the green light to do so.

 

Clek

We’re still anxiously awaiting clek’s new infant seat, but in the meantime, they have some neat new covers.

The first is a merino wool cover that is naturally flame-retardant, meaning that it meets flammability standards with no added chemicals in the fabric or foam. Clek is still deciding whether to go with the lighter or darker gray, so stay tuned. Price will run $429-$499 for convertibles.

Clek is also coming out with a tokidoki unicorn print called unicorn disco. These are bold, rockin’ unicorns rather than the typical fancy pastel kind. The unicorn seats should be available in the first quarter of 2018. Unicorn Disco Foonfs will retail for $499, Oobrs for $349, and Ollis for $129.

    

Cybex/gb

We can’t wait for the launch of the Sirona M, the upcoming convertible seat from Cybex. Not much has changed with Sirona M since the last time we wrote about it, but we do have more details on the technology that will set it apart from other high-end convertibles. Sirona M will employ a system similar to the Evenflo SensorSafe system that uses a dongle (that’s a word for it–really) to connect with the car’s On Board Diagnostic (OBD II) port. A chime will sound when the car is turned off with a child in the seat (it knows when the chest clip is buckled) so it can help reduce accidental hot-car deaths.

   

That’s not where the technology stops, though. The Sirona M’s app aims to eliminate misuse by making things easier for parents. It will have videos and instructions to help parents install and adjust their seats properly. An interactive feature will allow caregivers to enter the year, make, and model of their car, and the app will tell them if they’re allowed to use lower anchors in the center position. Based on information the parent enters about their child, the app can send reminders when it expects children to reach certain milestones (like weight limits) that might require parents to make adjustments to the seat.

No technology is foolproof, but with people being more reliant on it than ever, we’re excited that Cybex is making advances that could be very useful–or even lifesaving!

New designer fashion collection from Anna K for some existing Cybex products include the Space Rocket collection. It’s pretty rare to find images on carseats these days, so this should appeal to a lot of parents who are looking for something a bit different (and delightfully nerdy!).

 

 

In strollers, gb has created a new version of its folding Pockit stroller: the Pockit+ (Pocket Plus). Pocket+ has a larger, UV-rated canopy, is slightly wider, and can accommodate a carrycot as well as Cybex infant seats with adapters. It still folds-up to a teeny-tiny size that’s just 2″ wider than the original Pockit. Pockit + should be available at the end of January for $279.

 

Cybex also has a cool new stroller, EEZY S TWIST. A simple lever allows caregivers to quickly swivel the seat from front- to back-facing in a matter of seconds. It holds a child weighing up to 55 lbs. while the stroller itself weighs less than 17 lbs. Available in the 1st quarter of 2018 for $299.

Cybex is also launching a new baby carrier, Yema. The sophisticated fabric is designed to mimic a luxury handbag or fine suit. It has strong hook-and-loop closures that allow parents to easily adjust the length and width of the carrier to fit babies of different sizes. A tuck-away hood can add extra protection for baby, and hidden buckles help maintain a sleek look. Yema will retail for $135.

Graco/Baby Jogger

Graco Atlas 65 Review: This Seat Can Shoulder Responsibility

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2017 Graco Atlas Review: Combination Forward-Facing Harness and High Back Booster Seat

At first glance, you might mistake the Graco Atlas for a Graco Nautilus, which is understandable since they’re very similar seats.

The main difference with the Atlas is that it becomes a becomes a highback booster but not a backless booster like the Nautilus. The Atlas also doesn’t have the Nautilus’s steel frame, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That helps make the Atlas significantly lighter, making it a good option for a travel seat. The Atlas also has a nice feature the Nautilus lacks: The ability to tuck the harness out of the way (instead of needing to remove it) for booster mode.

Here’s a chart comparing the different Nautilus-esque Graco seats:

But instead of comparing the Atlas to the Nautilus, let’s take a look at the Atlas in its own right.

Specifications

  • Harness:
    • 22-65 lbs.
    • 27-49″
  • Booster:
    • 30-100 lbs
    • 38-57″
    • At least 3 years old
  • Lowest harness measurement: 11.5″
  • Highest harness measurement: 18.5″
  • Highest booster belt guide: 20.5″
  • Crotch buckle slots: 2 (5.5″ and 7″)
  • Seat depth: 12″
  • Internal width, hips: 12″
  • Internal width, shoulders: 12″
  • External width, widest point (at cupholders): 19″
  • External width at bottom, back: 10.5″
  • External width at top, front: 14.5″

Features

  • Forward-facing harnessed seat that converts to a high-back booster
  • EPS foam in headrest
  • Two cupholders
  • Ten headrest/harness positions with no-rethread harness
  • Two-position recline
  • Storage compartment for harness (when in booster mode)

Fit to Vehicle

In my 2014 Honda Civic,

HOT CARS Act Passes U.S. House

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Language from a bill known as the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats Act (or HOT CARS Act) has been approved by the United States House of Representatives. The HOT CARS Act requires auto manufacturers to include an alarm reminding drivers to check the back seat of their vehicles, ideally leading to a decrease in the number of deaths caused by inadvertently leaving children in the back seat.

The HOT CARS Act was initially introduced in the Energy and Commerce Committee in June, but language from the bill was passed on September 6 as an amendment to the DECAL Act, which seeks to inform consumers about the capabilities and limitations of self-driving cars.

The amendment concerning children left in hot cars says that within two years of the bill becoming law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must issue a rule requiring automakers to include an alarm that will alert drivers to check the rear seat when they turn off the engine. Auto manufacturers would then have two years to comply with the rule.

Children dying in hot cars is a serious issue, and one that has been getting more attention lately. Some vehicle manufacturers, like General Motors, are already putting safeguards in place (as are some car seat companies, like Evenflo). This regulation would force other auto manufacturers to follow suit.

While this bill is a step in the right direction for protecting children from accidental deaths, there’s still a long way to go. First, the bill will need to pass the U.S. Senate. If it does, it will then need to be signed into law by a president who has signaled a resistance to new regulations.

If the bill does become law, the regulation will need to actually be enacted–a process that is often met with challenges, changes, and delays.

We have questions about how these proposed alarms will work. If an alarm chimes each time the car is turned off (as is suggested in the language of the bill), people are more likely to ignore it or otherwise tune it out, especially once they get used to hearing it. Falling into a routine is exactly the problem these alarms should be trying to solve; they shouldn’t be contributing to it. A system like GM’s, where the alarm sounds only if the back door had been opened and shut prior to the car moving, seems more likely to be effective since it has a better chance of catching people specifically when they have a child onboard.

Even under the best scenarios, this regulation is still years away from becoming reality. 

There are benefits and downfalls to relying on technology or gadgets to help keep caregivers from forgetting children in the car. People can always take precautions on their own, though. We recommend that people put an item they’ll need at their destination (like a phone, a purse, or a shoe) in the back seat so they’ll need to open that back door and see the child inside.

Legislation might eventually help, but it’s a long road.

Multimac: Too Good to be True?

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News of the Multimac has been ebbing and flowing on social media for years. It’s making a resurgence again—for understandable reasons—so we felt we should address it.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Multimac is a child restraint system that includes three or even four seats that are installed at the same time into a standard back seat. Various accessories allow the Multimac to accommodate children from birth to age 12, from rear-facing to seatbelt-ready. The four-seater Multimac means that people who previously would have needed an SUV or minivan (or would have needed to put one child up front in a sedan) can now fit four kids in the back of a standard car.

Does that sound too good to be true? Well, it is and it isn’t. The Multimac does appear to meet standards…in the United Kingdom. It does not meet U.S. standards, and therefore cannot be used in the United States. So, if you’re in Europe, the Multimac might be a great option. If you, like most of our readers, live in America, you’re sadly out of luck.

If you’re an American hoping that the Multimac will eventually be available here, don’t hold your breath. There’s currently no way for the Mulitmac to pass U.S. testing. For one, our standard requires child restraints to be installed with a seatbelt or LATCH. The Multimac is installed with bolts and straps, plus legs that extend to the floor. It would fail U.S. testing by virtue of not being able to be installed on our test sled (that has no floor) and therefore we don’t know how it would fare in terms of meeting injury criteria.

Now let’s talk about cost for a moment. A four-seater Multimac with two rear-facing seats is about £2,000. (That doesn’t include the other accessories you might need, but it’s a starting point.) That translates to about $2,500, which is a big chunk of change to drop on a car seat. On the other hand, that’s slightly less shocking when you consider you’re buying four car seats, and it’s probably a lot less expensive than upgrading to bigger car. So you have to keep it in perspective. (Of course, that doesn’t take into consideration the likely astronomical cost to ship it to the United States…plus the fact that it’s illegal to use here.)

Maybe someday U.S. standards will allow for testing of innovations like the Multimac, but change in federal regulations is typically verrrrry slow. Child passenger safety advocates have long encouraged changes, like adding a floor to the test sled to accommodate seats with load legs, but so far nothing has come of that. If you’d like to see changes, contact your elected U.S. representatives and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to tell them we need to update our standards.

And if you’re in the UK, have fun with your new seat!