Last week was the annual ABC Kids Expo, where baby brands reveal their new and coming-soon releases. Our trusted Gear Guy, Jamie Grayson, was there sniffing out the most promising new products for parents. Here are his rants and raves (mostly raves) about the show’s five most interesting unveilings.
Nuna Leaf. I was struck by the simplicity and great design of this seat when I first saw it in New Zealand—and I’m psyched it’s finally on its way to the US. As a side-to-side floor swing, the Nuna Leaf is designed to mimic a leaf falling from a tree—and I can personally vouch for how comfortable it is (I frequented the adult-sized Leaf they had on display at the Nuna booth). Organic textiles on a very sturdy base, not to mention a small footprint, will vault this to the top of many lists in the coming year. Plus, the weight limit is well over 100 pounds, which means your baby will be able to chill in the thing right through toddlerhood. The Nuna Leaf retails for $229.95 and is available for pre-order at shopuna.com; ships by January 1, 2013.
Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat. Chicco upended the infant car seat market with its KeyFit 30, and I am elated by the innovation of the new NextFit Convertible. For starters, there’s a really cool new LATCH system with integrated pulleys that significantly reduces the effort required to tighten the install. And—get this—the seat has a whopping nine recline positions, meaning it’ll fit into the contour of whatever seat you’re dealing with. The NextFit is suitable from 5 to 65 pounds and has a rear-facing weight limit of 40 pounds; its height capacity is a bit more generous than other seats as well. Clever bonus: the harness width expands to accommodate wider shoulders as your child grows. The Chicco NextFit retails for $279-$299 and launches in Spring 2013.
Mixie Bottle. As a breastfeeding advocate, reviewing bottles is a slippery slope for me. But I’ve gotta say the Mixie bottle is a great innovation for parents who formula-feed their children. The Mixie has a compartment built into the bottom of the bottle that holds powdered formula. Just add water and press on the bottom of the bottle; the resulting pressure pops the lid off and into the bottle, allowing you to shake the bottle to mix—the lid even acts as an agitator to break up clumps. It’s a game changer. The Mixie retails for $18.95 for a 4-oz bottle ($21.95 for 8 oz), and is available now at galtbaby.com.
Babycurean CollegeBound Baby Carriers. As a loyal graduate of Ole Miss, I was floored when I spotted this line of college-branded carriers. Working with existing manufacturers (such as BabyHawk and Peapod Creations), Babycurean is the only officially licensed company making baby carriers with collegiate logos. They’re well-made, very comfortable, and you will definitely be the hit of the tailgate party. Babycurean CollegeBound carriers vary in price (by carrier type), and are available now at babycurean.com.
UPPAbaby Mesa Infant Car Seat. THE big launch at ABC this year was UPPAbaby’s first infant car seat. The very attractive Mesa features a base that installs using an innovative LATCH belt ratcheting system, which enables you to tighten the base by barely pressing on it; there’s also a green/red indicator so there’s no mistaking a successful installation. I installed the seat in 10 seconds—literally. It weighs over 10 pounds, which is on the heavy side for an infant seat. But the fact that you can adjust the harness height from the inside of the seat, rather than fumbling with straps in the back, more than makes up for the heaviness. Right now it’s only compatible with UPPA’s VISTA and CRUZ strollers—but on the upside, it releases from the stroller with one hand, via a button on top of the seat handle. Brillz. The Mesa retails for $279.99, and will be available in March, 2013.