Previews Archive

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.

UPPAbaby MESA “Henry” Infant Carseat – Green is the New Black

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We are so excited about this new product, which will be available Spring 2017! The UPPAbaby MESA is already one of our favorite premium infant carseats (it’s one of our Editors’ Picks from our Recommended Seats List). And, soon chemical-conscious parents in North America will have the option to buy a MESA model with a merino wool blend cover that is naturally flame retardant!

uppababy-mesa-henry-with-ep-badge

This new model, called “Henry/ Blue Marl” (which is actually more grey than blue), will be the first chemical-free infant carseat trim cover! You’re going to shell out $50 more for that particular fashion, but if reducing your child’s exposure to certain chemicals is high on your list of priorities, we don’t think an extra $50 for a wool blend cover that is naturally flame retardant is unreasonable.

Aside from being the “Greenest” carseat, MESA is packed with safety and convenience features. The base is a breeze to install with lower LATCH connectors. Seatbelt install is easy too thanks to the lockoff on the base. This model fits preemies and small newborns well. And of course, it’s compatible with the wildly popular UPPAbaby VISTA & CRUZ strollers if you want to create an ultra-premium travel system. Check out our UPPAbaby MESA Review for the full scoop.

Why Merino Wool?

Merino wool is the only fiber that is naturally flame retardant. For this reason organic mattresses have been made with wool for years. Merino wool is also well-known for being a wicking fiber which makes it comfortable in both warm and cool weather. This is not the itchy wool sweaters of your youth – merino wool doesn’t feel like traditional wool and it won’t bother even the most sensitive baby skin. We all touched the Henry cover and agreed that it felt smooth and lovely.

uppababy-fabric-2

Why do most carseats have chemical flame retardants added?

Unfortunately, the fact is that an antiquated federal law requires manufacturers to meet strict flammability standards and it’s very difficult (although clearly not impossible) to meet those standards without adding chemical flame retardants. However, manufacturers do have a choice as to which chemicals they use and how they use them.

UPPAbaby deserves huge kudos for finding a way to meet the flammability standards without adding flame retardants to the cover! They also used energy-absorbing EPP foam (instead of EPS foam) because EPP doesn’t require additional flame retardants. As a side note, all current (non-Henry) MESA models meet the flammability standards without using brominated or chlorinated chemicals (e.g. PBB’s and PBDE’s), which are considered the worst offenders.

“Henry” will be arriving early Spring 2017. We will update the ETA as we get closer to the launch date and have more specific information.

MSRP for “Henry” fashion will be $349. 

So, what do we think?

We were so impressed, that we awarded UPPAbaby with one of our exclusive “Shut Up & Take My Money” Awards for Best New Product at the 2016 ABC Kids Expo! Congrats to UPPAbaby for being the first to market with a naturally flame retardant carseat cover! We hope to see many more of these in the future.

award-uppababy-abc show 2016 uppababy-award-abc-2016

Carseat Roundup from the 2016 ABC Kids Expo

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New & Improved Carseats & Boosters for 2017

We’ve already brought you detailed posts highlighting many new products that debuted at the 2016 ABC Kids Expo. Here’s the roundup of what else is new and coming soon from Baby Trend, Britax, Cardiff, gb, Evenflo, Hauck, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna & UPPAbaby.

Baby Trend

A running change on Baby Trend infant seats includes a redesigned lower anchor system. A different webbing design will allow connectors to fit better in cars with more prominent anchors, and a baby-trend-secure-snapfit-signnew routing of the strap’s “tail” will allow users to pull upward, giving more leverage and making the strap easier to tighten.

Infant seats will also start shipping with a foam wedge to allow smaller babies to fit better in the harness. The insert goes under the cover and can be used until the baby fits well without it. Seats will start shipping with the insert at the beginning of the year, but existing owners who find they need one can call the company to order one.

Currently the Hybrid combination seat has dual splitter plates to hold the harness at the back of the seat. Soon that will be changing to a single splitter plate, which should eliminate some confusion. The Hybrid will also start shipping with a dual-length crotch strap to allow for more room for larger kids.

baby-trend-hybrid-new-splitter-plate

Finally, the Yumi folding booster will also feature a backless mode.

baby-trend-backless-mode

Britax

I’ve been in the car seat world for a long time now, and I knew the “Brit” in “Britax” had something to do with Britain, but I didn’t know what the “ax” was for…until now. Britax is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Back in 1966, the company launched as British Accessories: Brit-ax… (cue lightbulb-moment). We’re glad the company made its way across the pond and is now making amazing car seats for the U.S. market. Happy birthday, Britax!

In other news, Britax is reviewing its inflatable seatbelt policy. The company will likely add the B-Safe 35/35 Elite and the ClickTight convertibles to its list of seats that can be installed with Ford’s inflatable seatbelts. That would mean that all Britax seats could be used with those belts. Look for that change to occur in the next few weeks.

Britax will also be introducing some new fashions: Poole, Static, Mosaic, Venti, Confetti, Baxter, Oasis, Vue, Vector, and Kate.

britax-poole britax-fashion-3

britax-fashion-2 britax-fashion-1

A few fashions will be going away, including the popular Kaleidoscope and Onyx. Cowmoo is here to stay, though, so don’t worry about that.

There are now ClickTight Boulevards and ClickTight Advocates shipping with the anti-rebound bar in the box, although consumers can still purchase them separately, too. Purchasing them together as a boxed set will save $10 off the MSRP vs. purchasing them separately.

Cardiff

Heather recently wrote a review of the Cardiff Travel Headrest, so there’s not too much new to report. They do have some new fashions, though: Camo, Polka Dot, and Melange.

cardiff-colors

Cybex

See our full update on the new Cybex Sirona M convertible seat.

Diono