Conference/ABC Expo Archive

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

KIM Conference 2017: Update on Rear-Facing to Age 2

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We’ve recently returned from the Kidz in Motion (KIM) Conference, which is the National Child Passenger Safety Conference, where we had a chance to talk with the very experts who help to shape policy on rear-facing. An open forum was added to the conference schedule at the last minute to address the current status of research on which the American Academy of Pediatrics’ rear-facing to age 2 policy is based. The original study from 2007 claims that rear-facing to age 2 is five times safer; however, Dorel commissioned a review of the study that shows those statistics to be in error. We now have a better idea of what’s going on with the recent Dorel policy statement, where they removed language from their labels and instruction manuals requiring children to remain rear-facing in their convertible seats until age 2.

Dr. Ben Hoffman MD FAAP CPST-I, Chair of the AAP’s Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, led the session and stated that the AAP is not making any changes to their rear-facing policy right now. Jeya Padmanaban, the author of the new research, who found the errors in the original study, has submitted her research to an unknown journal and we are all waiting for it to be peer-reviewed and published. Dr. Hoffman said the AAP is closely monitoring the situation but has no inside information on when, or even if, publication may happen. And he’s the guy who would know.

There was a discussion of research currently being done in the area of child passenger safety and it’s pretty slim. As we all know, money has dried up. Years ago, State Farm had an excellent partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where they pulled data from State Farm’s customers. That program, Partners for Child Passenger Safety, ended a decade ago. CIREN is another network where data from level one trauma centers was analyzed in conjunction with biomechanical engineering teams. The last data set from that program is dated 2015. That’s not to say there aren’t currently any studies being made and progress being made in CPS. It’s just that data to focus on injuries to RF children exclusively isn’t being collected.

The panel did discuss Sweden, since it’s a popular comparison country because of its low crash injury rates for children. All agreed that because of the way their carseats are engineered and installed, we can’t compare the U.S. to Sweden. Their vehicle fleet is newer and different, their roads are different as are the miles driven. They also don’t use forward-facing carseats with a harness so there is no way to compare the effectiveness of RF seats to FF seats in that country. From a pediatrician’s perspective, Dr. Hoffman contributed that their entire healthcare system sets them up for different crash outcomes because they may start out healthier.

The big take-home message of the session was that when used and installed properly, carseats are doing an amazing job of keeping children safe, no matter which direction they face.

What to Do

  • Keep your child rear-facing until age 2
    • Stay the course until/unless it’s proven to change
    • There’s no evidence currently that RF until 2 is harmful
    • Some carseats and some state laws require it
  • Don’t say “It’s 5 times safer to RF to age 2”
    • That’s the statistic that’s being called into question
  • After 24 months, it’s a parental choice when to turn
    • We simply don’t know if it’s safer to RF after age 2. Yes, it seems logical that it should be safer, but there are other variables in the vehicle crash environment.
    • If you choose to RF after age 2, make sure to snug up the harness so you can’t pinch any webbing above the chest clip and put the seat in its most upright angle as the manufacturer allows

At this point in the research, there are more unknowns than knowns and we’re definitely in a holding pattern waiting for that revised journal article to come out. There’s no doubt that Dorel’s statement came at a damaging time when states are passing laws requiring rear-facing to age 2 based on what turned out to be a flawed study. We’re in shock as much as the original authors are, as they didn’t set out to mislead anyone. They are all highly qualified researchers in their fields with professional reputations to uphold.

Just as I say to all my child passenger safety technician candidates in tech class: “Never say never in CPS. It’s an ever-changing field with no absolutes.”

 

 

2017 JPMA Baby Show Wrap-Up

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What’s new, improved and coming soon from Baby Trend, Britax, Chicco, Clek, Diono, Evenflo, GB, Cybex, Graco, Nuna, Peg Perego & Safety 1st

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) made the decision last year to split from the ABC Kids Expo and have its own show in the spring. This week, the CarseatBlog team has spent its time going from manufacturer to manufacturer to get the scoop for you—finding new information and fashions—and finding new goodies along the way!

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

The Good News – a lot of great things are in the works from a bunch of different manufacturers. The future is exciting and full of cool new carseats and innovation!

The Bad News – we can’t talk about most of it (yet). Lol. We hate to tease but we are bound by NDAs in most cases, or the info is just embargoed until a specific date in the future. We hope that by the ABC Show in October we will be able to share some details on a few projects but for now just know that all the big players (and even some of the smaller manufacturers) are working on new stuff, improving existing platforms, and in general just upping their game. Some of these products will be available later this year but others won’t be on store shelves for another 12+ months.

However, not everything we saw or discussed was confidential or embargoed. There was some new, and new-ish, stuff to report on, so here you go, in alphabetical order . . .

Baby Trend

Protect Convertible Series

  • The base is hollowed out in the middle to help it fit better in the center of the back seat, which is sometimes contoured.
  • Elite Version: available at BRU; has dual cup holders, lockoffs, and adjustable base; has a robust internal head restraint for rear-facers
  • Premier Version: available at Target; has 1 cup holder, adjustable base, and a double insert for comfort and fit
  • Sport Version: available at Wal-Mart; has 1 cup holder and a flip foot for rear-facing
  • BT is bringing back the Inertia, which changed names to müv, and will now be called E-motion.

 

Britax

ClickTight Models

All 3 ClickTight models—Marathon, Boulevard, Advocate—now are packaged with anti-rebound bars (ARBs) in limited fashions.

Chicco

Fit2 LE Infant Seat

  • Will continue to be made in Italy
  • Alto fashion has leatherette trim

NextFit iX

  • The iX means Innovation Multiplied. Pretty cool, huh?
  • Has new LockSure™ lockoffs that seat belt slides into, just like the KeyFit lockoffs
  • Harness adjuster has a force multiplier to make tightening easier for caregiver
  • Harness adjuster strap has also been reduced in width from 2″ to 1.5″ to reduce friction, which makes it easier for caregivers to pull tight
  • Chest clip has been changed to an IMMI chest clip

 

GoFit

  • Is available in Shark, Raindrop, and Grape fashions
  • Will continue to be a Target exclusive until 7/1/17

There will be new Air fashions in January 2018.

Clek

Check out the lovely limited edition purple (Peep) seats! Aura is the white shell version while Prince is the black shell version. Available in July while supplies last.

Also new is Cadet (white shell) and Woodlands (black shell).

 

Diono

Kioma: The Infant Carseat of the Future?

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As we were walking the halls of the 2017 JPMA Baby Show in Anaheim, something caught our eye. It was a vaguely egg-shaped contraption that looked like a carseat but was so different from a carseat that we weren’t sure. We went over for a closer look and were introduced to Kioma, an innovative rear-facing-only infant seat.

We had a nice long chat with Kioma’s Christopher Gay about the seat. Right now the seats are still early prototypes, so things can still change, but Gay is confident they’re close to being able to move to production. Here’s what we know so far.

The seats are made of carbon fiber, meaning they’re extremely lightweight. The carrier weighs 5.5 pounds, although it felt even lighter than that.

The unique handle felt ergonomically correct and less awkward to carry than a standard infant seat, although we weren’t able to test with an actual baby. The engineers designed the seat to keep the center of mass under the handle so the seat won’t tip forward even with heavier babies in it. The handle is in a permanently fixed position for a reason: To eliminate moving parts, which can sometimes wind up as safety concerns if they break/fail.

The seats have been crash-tested (there are belt guides on the carrier that are hard to see in some photos), and Gay says the carrier performs very well. We saw a video of one test, and there appeared to be very little downward rotation. (Downward rotation occurs in a frontal impact when the child restraint moves down and toward the front of the car. Reducing downward rotation is a good thing.) That said, they’re still deciding what kind of base to use. They have tested with some and are still determining the best route.

The height and weight limits are also still being determined. Gay said the seat will fit up to an average 18-month-old child, and said that height will be a greater factor than weight in determining the limits. The instructions will include a description telling parents how high up the shell their child’s head can go. We recommended also including an indicator on the seat itself.

The Kioma prototype has three sets of harness slots, and the harness is a regular rethread (again to reduce the number of moving parts and the weight of the seat). It’s possible the number, position, or location of harness slots could change before the seat is released.

The interior of the seat is smooth and free of the crevices that often make it difficult to clean out messes. Kioma also features an anti-skid bottom, which should help both with a baseless installation in the car and with stability when the carrier is outside the car.

There will be available sunshades in the form of a “sleeve” that fits over the seat. The company didn’t have samples available at the show, so we weren’t able to see what they’ll look like. Currently the fabric on the seats has a slick nylon-type feel, although that might also change. The final seat will have an infant insert and possibly other soft goods as well. (The current fabric is easy to wipe down, but we recommended an insert made of a fabric that might be softer or more breathable.)

As for fitting in cars, the seat appears to be rather long, but that might be a bit of an optical illusion. The seat was initially designed to fit in smaller European cars, so we’re hopeful it will fit in a range of American cars, too.

The company is also working on stroller compatibility since they know that’s an important factor. We recommended making the carrier compatible with Maxi Cosi adapters to give the widest range of options.

A couple fun facts: On an aesthetic note, the seat features seven Fibonacci curves. The name “Kioma” was made up by Gay’s daughter and doesn’t actually have any particular meaning.

Kioma is based in Dallas, and the seats were designed and made in the USA (and will continue to be).

Now let’s address the elephant in the room: Pricing. Currently there are three different price points: $1,000, $1,200, and $2,500. The most expensive seat has the completely carbon fiber shell. The two lower priced seats have a carbon fiber shell but an aluminum handle. The $200 difference pertains to outward cosmetic appearance (“naked” carbon fiber exterior vs. painted). At those prices this seat won’t be for everyone, but this is designed for parents looking for an ultra-premium product.

Right now, Kioma is confident the seats will be ready to begin the production process in September. Given the number of factors that are still unknown, plus the number of regulatory hoops that will need to be jumped through, we’re not sure that’s an entirely realistic timeframe.

This might not be a “traditional” seat, but that’s what makes it intriguing. We’re excited to see how this design plays out and where it goes in the future.