the skinny on skinny car seats

29 January 2015

oh, yes. Look at her go. Two days ago she knew of one skinny car seat and now she's pounding out a lengthy blog post like an obnoxious expert.

You know me so well.

No, I started to write a Facebook post summarizing my findings (ALL thanks to you and your helpful tips and emails) but then it started to rival a Tolstoy novellita so I switched gears and pasted it over here. Plus ... I like to have visual aides because I will forever be stuck in tenth grade trying to grasp some (un)complicated math situation.

Here's what I've gathered are the top three ...




1. Diono RadianRXT - this was far and AWAY the most popular suggestion so I'm guessing you really can't go wrong with it. Apparently it's quite heavy though? But .... if she can do this ...


... I'm guessing it's not that bad. Plus heavier = safer? Right? Right. It's pricey but someone commented they stalked it on Amazon and the price dropped significantly for one day.

2. Combi Cocorro - not as many recommendations for this one but the few endorsements were glowing endorsements PLUS it seems to be the least expensive which is kind of a huge plus when you're buying three. I poked around a bit and it looks like (right now) Amazon has the best price for this one too.

3. Clek Foonf - I'm just going to be honest and say that I want these because I want to be as hip and cool as Jenna. Shallow? Never ever. They always look so chic over on her gram and when have you ever seen chic and car seat used together in the same sentence? Just now, that's when. This is by far the priciest but apparently they are on significant sale over at Zulily this week.

*this just in! Good thing I do my homework before I made that collage-o-seats. It looks like the Clek Fllo is even skinnier. And cheaper! It does not get, "the mother of all car seats" title though. So ... something to consider. 

All three car seats are designed for extended rear facing use (although the Radian and the Clek have higher weight limits than the Cocorro) and I don't think we could go wrong with any of them. I don't think! And while we'd love to upgrade to a bigger vehicle ... Simon will be getting a new car long before we replace the van. If you've seen or heard Simon's car in real life ... you'll know why. Thank you hit-and-run jerkface or the more diplomatic "the bad guy" according to Julia.

If you have any pros or cons to add - I'd love to hear! Are there other skinnies I don't know about? Maybe there are and I'll have to come back and edit the post so that it's fair! I've heard the Diono lovers loud and clear and I know about the facebook page that will weigh on in the best fit for your vehicle. The internet --- it's magical. Sometimes.

49 comments:

  1. Diono radian all the way. They are heavy... no way she would be smiling. We bought an elcheapo for airlines as I wasn't lugging it through DFW.

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    1. You also (probably) don't need the foam wedge they try to push for an adequate angle. I have yet to meet someone that has one. I (of course!) purchased one...just to be prepared. Definitely shop around for price for a while. Our first was purchased from justkidsstore and the second from overstock.

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  2. I love our Dionos. Heavy but not bulky which is nice when buckling 3 in the back. Check albeebaby.com. I've always found them cheapest there!

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    1. We have the R100. They're cheaper than the RXT.

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    2. ooooh -- good to know!!! Thank you Karen!

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    3. I second the R100! We definitely needed the foam wedge though - even though we have an SUV there's no way it would have fit rear-facing without it.

      www.anna-bird.com

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  3. They're coming out with an infant insert for the Clek this year, which is nice because I think the Foonf starts at 14lbs. I love Clek!

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    1. I was wondering about that - I couldn't find any definitive answers - thank you!!!

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  4. Diono is great. It's skinny and fits in right along side my Britiax (which is short and fat) in the back of my honda accord. I've fit two diono's and my britax in the back of my accord at once btw. The only downside to the diono in a sedan is that it's so tall. My husband is 6'2 and he can't move his seat back far enough if he sits on the side of that car seat. But he can with the britax. But I think you've got a mini van, so you should be good.

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    1. very good to know! yeah - just the back bench seat of the minivan!!

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  5. Harmony Defender and Cosco Scenera were just recommended for me by a friend who's a CPST for the back of my Honda Accord. I have shrimpy and light kids, but these are supposed to be good, very affordable options for kids under the 50th percentile in height/weight. And, the Diono is a beast. Don't drop it on your toe...

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    1. nice!!! three across?? adding them to my "research" :)

      Thank you!!!

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    2. We have a harmony defender - half the price of the radian and super-heavy, but easy enough for the new 4yo to buckle. The only problem is I couldn't get the harness adjusted to fit the 5.5yo, age our britax booster fits him with the harness, so I was annoyed about that since I don't think any of the kids are ready for a shoulder belt yet. Anyway, we've got an evenflo triumph (slim and light but hard to buckle and straps twist too early), harmony defender, and some britax (can't remember which) across the back of our minivan.

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    3. We have a harmony defender - half the price of the radian and super-heavy, but easy enough for the new 4yo to buckle. The only problem is I couldn't get the harness adjusted to fit the 5.5yo, age our britax booster fits him with the harness, so I was annoyed about that since I don't think any of the kids are ready for a shoulder belt yet. Anyway, we've got an evenflo triumph (slim and light but hard to buckle and straps twist too early), harmony defender, and some britax (can't remember which) across the back of our minivan.

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  6. We own one Diono and will likely be purchasing more. We have 4 under 4 in a Tahoe. I like it because it does not sit as high as our Britax Boulevard in the third row. In the Britax, my two year old's head nearly touches the roof. And the seat portion is lower to the ground allowing him to climb into it on his own unlike the Britax. Because the sides of the Diono do not extend so far, you don't have to be a contortionist to reach across it and buckle another child. Although you may be a yoga expert, doing so while 8 or 9 months pregnant can be impossible.

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  7. We love our Dionos. The R100 doesn't have an infant insert but is find for the olders. My little guy is four and happily rear facing in his. Regarding the weight, they are heavy (29lbs), but it's manageable. Also, if you don't want to replace all the seats, the Dionos have a great reputation for puzzling well well to fit with other seats because of the skinny and low profile. For example, the backseat of elantra can have a Diono on each door and a Graco my Ride in the center and they all rear face very nicely ;) You're driving my dream van, bc it has the most anchor points and tether positions of any van, allowing for the most car seats/boosters correctly installed compared to every other mini van on the market :)

    Also, congrats on the new lovely baby. I'm a long time lurker but rare commenter...but if you bring up car seats, teen lit or binge watching ridiculous shows I can't help but jump in <3 If you ever make your way to the east coast of Canada let me know, we are always stocked on Things That Are Delicious, and Wine.

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  8. Another diono lover but you want the R100, way easier for kids to get in and out of on their own.

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  9. Oh! Also forgot to mention that Cosco just came out the the Scenera Next, which rear faces longer than the regular scenera, and I hear that the puzzle well with other seats too!

    Posting your vehicle, kids age/weight/heights on the Car Seats For the Littles facebook page is also a really easy way to get a ton of info, they can usually give really specific information on exactly what car seat configurations they've made work in your vehicle!

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  10. I can't offer ant help in the car seat department, but check out camelcamelcamel.com! You can see the price history of Amazon items and set it to email you when an item you're interested in drops below your desired price. It's the best.

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  11. I can't offer ant help in the car seat department, but check out camelcamelcamel.com! You can see the price history of Amazon items and set it to email you when an item you're interested in drops below your desired price. It's the best.

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  12. I have a love/hate relationship with the diono. we travel frequently so when I saw the picture of that woman carrying it on her shoulder I thought...perfect! but as you already said...it is so dang heavy! but I guess it is safer?
    also, the diono goes on sale all of the time at Kohls. if you ever shop there you know how they have like 10 million coupons that you can stack on top of each other....so I got mine for $185 shipped. I had to rely on my sister the Kohls expert to figure that out though...so hopefully you are in the know about how to shop at Kohls!

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  13. Every single "i was in a carwreck" reviews with a Diono said that their children were completely unscathed. Number one reason I saved my pennies and got a Diono for myself!

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  14. I just got a diono Pacifica and we love it! Wanted it to do extended rear facing for my son. It is very skinny! Make sure you check out the Facebook group car seat deals- they post coupon codes. I ended up getting the Pacifica at kohls for $206 with their help!

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  15. Oh! Also forgot to mention that Cosco just came out the the Scenera Next, which rear faces longer than the regular scenera, and I hear that the puzzle well with other seats too!

    Posting your vehicle, kids age/weight/heights on the Car Seats For the Littles facebook page is also a really easy way to get a ton of info, they can usually give really specific information on exactly what car seat configurations they've made work in your vehicle!

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  16. Love love love my diono car seats! Buy them at Kohls online! Ships direct from diono. Right now on their baby sale they are 25% off. Combine with 30% off promo code from retailmenot and they are under $150! $260 at BRU. The seats are pretty heavy, but i managed one solo cross country with 5, 4, and 1, so definitely manageable

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  17. We have one Diono Radian and now I wish that we had one for each of the kids. We've had Britax car seats and Graco My Rides, but the Radian is by far my favorite. They are heavy, but definitely worth it for fitting everyone into the van!

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  18. We love the Combi Coccoro!! We currently have two in our Honda Accord, and baby #3 is on the way, so we will likely get a third. We started with these from the beginning because of the size, and have been very happy with them. NOT heavy, yet durable and cute. Also, a special bonus, but their customer service is great. ;)

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  19. Gah! Yes! The Diono!!! We bought three to fit in my Saturn Vue when the twins arrived. Totally worth the price. Love, love, love!!

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  20. FYI, you won't get anywhere close to 4 yrs rear facing in the Combi Cocorro. Our son outgrew it before 2 (though he has a long torso). He can still fit forward facing. We got it because it's supposed to be a good car seat for city dwellers -- easy to get into taxis and light. I will say that it does seem like it would fit a newborn well which a lot of convertibles don't.

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  21. Diono lovers! We go R instead of RXT and significantly cheaper.

    As for the Combi Coccoro, here is the number one reason it's cheaper: Material: Plastic - I bet it has a 5 year expiration unlike the Clek Foonf (9 year lifespan) & Diono (10 year lifespan)

    The other thing is Diono is the only one that seems to convert to a booster.

    Max weights:
    Combi Coccoro Forward Facing Maximum Weight: 40 Lb
    Clek Foonf Forward Facing Maximum Weight: 65 Lb
    Diono R100 Forward facing max weight 65lb Booster to 100 lbs.

    Literally your child will probably never need another seat other than the Diono

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  22. Not much to say about carseats. I know ours fit but I have no idea what they're all called.

    I will say that we got a full-sized, 12 passenger Ford E-150 when I was expecting our twins, #s 4 and 5. We usually keep the third bench out so it's an 8 passenger. I LOVE our van so much. I'd never go back to a minivan. It's so roomy inside, so easy to get around and buckle/unbuckle kids, pick up dropped sippies, etc. And you can fit a million pounds of groceries, or a decent sized air compressor along with a half million pounds of groceries, in the back easy as pie. With #6 on the way a scant year and a half after the twins, I am so very glad we got "the big van". Best ever.

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    1. I'd love a 12 passenger --- one of these days when Simon is finalllllllllly done with training :)

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  23. I have the radian in my parents car (given to us from a friend who purchased it for an older child) and the clek foonf in my car ( purchased by us after much research) and the radian is great but I LOVE the Clek! They sit up nice and high, which is nice for the in and out and it is so much easier to transfer between cars. I find the radian a challenge to get really secure whereas the clek is very easy. It is also very pretty and looks less carseaty ( if that's a thing)! Good luck, they are all good choices!

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  24. Maybe buy one of each??? (If they'll fit of course) :)

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  25. If you don't already follow Thrifty Littles on IG (or her blog) then you must! She does all the Amazon stalking for you!!! Now if only you could get a deal for buying in bulk... ;-) A Costco car seat three pack?!

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  26. I will go against the grain here and say I hated the Diono. We had 3 and slowly replaced them with Britax. We only have 4 kids so its been okay so far. The problems with the Diono besides it weighs a ton. Its a pain in the A$$ to adjust the tightness of the harness. Like 10x harder than a Britax. Its a pain to install and get a good angle RF. And when you need to adjust the shoulder height you have to take the whole thing out and thread it through the back. Its a major pain. That being said. Its super narrow. But def NOT my fav seat at all. THe Briatx seats are massive but they are so easily to install RF or FF, to adjust the tightness or to adjust the height of the shoulder straps. THe Combi seat looks interesting. Also if your kids aren't super tall ( and yours don't appear to be then its hard to get your money's worth. I think my 7 year old could still fit height and weight wise in a Diono but she is in a booster.

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  27. Loved our Combi Coccoro (we live in the city and at 10 lbs & with European belt path routing it was the easies seat ever to quickly install in a cab/store under our stroller basket when downtown so we could grab a cab home) but a word to the wise, it is small both across and top to bottom so it is quickly outgrown length-wise. We just replaced ours this week with a Britax Boulevard Clicktight (awesome but not narrow) because our daughter outgrew the Combi length wise at 24 months. She wasn't at the max stated height, but she was an inch from the edge of the shell, so sayonara Combi. It has a 7 year expiration (in reply to the comment above).

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  28. Oh and in response to a few comments above...Kohls doesn't allow coupons on car seats anymore (as of...yesterday) which is a real bummer, they were the best deals. There is a car seat deal group on FB that if you join and tell them which seat(s) you are buying, they will tell you where/how to get them for the best price. And finally, I've read that some of the Diono's state they have a booster mode, but car seat technicians will tell you they have a notoriously bad fit in booster mood and would not recommend using it. There is another car seat group on Facebook, Car Seats for the Littles that is supremely helpful in selection if you give them your parameters with lots of techs to give you the real scoop.

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  29. Follow @thriftylittles on Instagram or her site: http://www.thriftylittles.com/. She always posts great deals!

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  30. Radian all the way. Toys R Us is having their trade in event 25% off... We're buying a new seat soon.

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  31. justkidsstore.com has the Radian RXT in Eclipse for $219.99. It's the best deal I've found so far, especially for military families; they have a $30 off of $300 (we have twins so its perfect for us!)

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  32. i think the diono is heavy because it has a steel frame - super safe!
    also have you heard of camelcamelcamel.com? you just put in the url of the amazon item you want to buy and it gives you data about the price - when it was the dearest, the cheapest, etc. gives you an idea like if the last time it went on sale was 2 years ago, you buy it now - if it fluctuates once a week, you wait :) i love it!

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  33. Madison, Wisconsin has a Safety Center attached to their pediatric hospital, open to the public, where we bought our Diono for under $200 - they sell wholesale to the public! Maybe you have something like that near you?

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  34. We had the Combi, but found we grew out of it in the length category too quickly, never got to the weight limit. We replaced it with the Radian. Love it! We have traveled with it and it's doable since it folds up nicely. It goes in the car so much easier than the Combi as well.

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  35. We have the Cleck Foonf in flamingo pink (!) and also boring black (wah-wah). We could not love these car seats more. They are expensive, but i think we are keeping our kid in it until she's at least 4, if not 5, so the length of time you can use it is helps balance the cost.

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  36. Another vote for the Diono Radians. They are awesome! It's super heavy though and not comfortable to wear on your back---when we travel, we just buy cheap Cosco Scenera's now. The Foonf is great, but it's REALLY big and tall, and it was too much for our Outback. I really wanted that seat, but it just didn't work for our cars.

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  37. FOONF FAN. I typed a whole thing that I think disappeared. They are so so worth it. My littlest HATED being in his infant carseat - when we moved to the Foonf at 6ish months, he was happy as a little clam. It sits higher up, so he has a nice view.

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  38. Has anyone else had problems using coupons at Kohls on the Diono Radian RXT? I tried multiple codes and none worked. I even called customer service and was told that car seat is ineligible to use coupons...

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  39. We absolutely love our Cocorro. We did have to use a pool noodle RF. It fits nice in the back of our extended cab Tacoma. The infant insert was comfy. At 3 we turned her around to FF. But now that our petite 4 year old is getting taller, we are looking to get a Diono.

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