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The Clek Foonf child seat is innovative, but has some limitations

The Clek Foonf child seat is innovative, but has some limitations

The innovative and expensive Clek Foonf convertible child seat promises revolutionary safety technology, installation ease, and recyclability. We just bought a budget-straining Clek Foonf ($400) for our test program, and our engineers have identified a limitation for this “no compromise” seat.

There are some interesting things about the Foonf, such as its REACT (Rapid Energy-Absorbing Crumple Technology) safety system that is designed to use aluminum honeycomb to absorb crash energy, the rigid LATCH attachments for forward-facing installation, and the magnets sewn into the sides of the fabric that hold the harness straps aside to help with getting your baby in and out of the seat.

Another benefit is that Clek addresses a common problem of how to properly dispose of a car seat when your child outgrows it by offering a recycling program. For $20, you can send your used Foonf back to Clek for recycling and in exchange it will send you a $20 coupon that can be used at its online store.

Find the right car seat for your baby. See our car seat Ratings and buying advice.

For all its promise, a key limitation for shoppers to be aware of is that it can’t be used until your baby is at least 14 lbs. and 24 inches; you’ll still need to purchase a different car seat until your baby is about three to six months old.  

Admittedly, it is often more convenient to use an infant seat for your newborn because he can be transferred from car to stroller in the carrier portion of the infant seat without your having to move and re-buckle him. But for those cost-conscious parents, a convertible seat that can be used with a newborn-sized baby until she reaches the forward-facing height or weight limits of the seat can be a more practical choice.

On the up side, the Canadian-made Foonf has a rear-facing limit of 43 inches or 50 lbs., which is one of the highest rear-facing capacities currently available and should enable most parents to keep their kid facing rear until he is about 4 years old. Rear-facing is more effective than forward-facing at protecting children because the head, neck, and spine remain in alignment against the seat shell and that helps to distribute the crash forces more evenly.

The Foonf has an anti-rebound bar that helps to limit rotation of the seat toward the vehicle seat back in the event of a collision. In addition to the anti-rebound bar, the included base is also required for rear-facing installation. Those extra parts make the already hefty Foonf even heavier for facing rear.

Weighing in at 39 lbs. rear-facing and 34 lbs. facing forward, it is the heaviest convertible seat available. It might not seem like a big deal because once you install the seat, you leave it, right? Well, not really. Currently, the Foonf can be installed with LATCH until the child weighs 40 lbs. for rear-facing, 48 lbs. for forward-facing, or as otherwise stated by the vehicle owner’s manual. But in early 2014, the seat weight will really matter because there will be new LATCH anchor rules going into effect, which state that your child seat can only be installed with LATCH until the seat and child together weigh 65 lbs. This means that if your child weighs more than 26 lbs. for rear-facing and 31 lbs. for forward-facing, the Foonf must be installed with the vehicle seat belt, which is often more difficult to use properly with the seat than LATCH installation is.

Another important note is the fabric cover cannot be removed for cleaning, but the company states that all fabrics provide protection against stains, moisture, and bacteria and can be spot cleaned. 

We look forward to doing our full evaluation of the Foonf to see if it’s worth the money.

Orientation Height Weight Minimum Age
Forward facing 25-43 in. 14-50 lbs. Able to sit upright
alone
Rear facing 30-49 in. 20-65 lbs. 1 year (2+ years
recommended)

Michelle Tsai Podlaha

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