We were so excited when asked to become part of GenerationGraco – I’ve been a fan pretty much as long as I’ve been a parent (I don’t know why they stopped making them, but 16 years ago they genuinely made the very best potty on the market. Broad enough to be comfy for a bottom, a high enough back to lean against to aid sitting for longer, a lovely broad base to stop any chance of tipping, and a see-through plastic so that you could tell if they’d ACTUALLY gone when they said they had without them getting up and legging it. All pure genius. And yes you may say ‘it’s just a potty’. But if you do, then you’ve either never actually potty-trained a toddler, or else you’ve conveniently forgotten the work involved).
So to meet the team and get to know the latest range of Graco products Bear and I headed up to London for a day at London Zoo. I know, it was a tough gig.
Once we’d said hello, had a smackerel of breakfast and found a seat, it was really interesting to get underway and learn a little more. Obviously the products have changed a lot since I was looking at the latest baby car seats 9yrs ago, but actually it’s great to see how much the designers have listened to parents and moved things in exactly the right direction.
Car seats are safer, but easier to use than ever. And it’s moved on so fast – I really am not very old, and yet I felt like the oldest parent in the room – things I used to marvel at and long for like reclining seats and easy-to-move head rests are now a basic design tickbox.
The big takeaway for me from the day was the talk from the guest from Thatchams (the car safety testing facility). He pointed out that the G Force on a child is three times that from an ejector set on a pilot, due to the immature muscle and bone structure. A car seat needs to really keep those young bodies safe – and while it’s great to buy a family car based on its NCAP rating;
“…a safe car is only as good as the fit of the seats.”
Getting a child seat that actually fits your car is so so SO important – and then fitting it correctly is even more so.
It was great to hear that Graco actually run side impact testing as well as all the head-on collision testing. And the brilliantly easy height adjustment on their seats (especially the Milestone which we’re testing) means the absolutely essential head/neck protection (obviously the head and the chest are the vulnerable movement parts in a collision – the chest is held securely and safely within a 5-point harness, but stopping the head whipping about is so important) is the easiest to keep right.
Of course it’s easy to strap your baby and toddler into a brilliantly-selected seat – they get no choice in the matter. But once your child is 9 and heading towards the top of the height restriction (in the Uk, the law states that a child must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old) it can become an increasing battle to have them use what they perceive as a ‘toddler’ car seat. Actually, I can foresee having something like the Milestone seat in the car frankly negates the issue – as you never have to change the seat, they won’t even think about it, and it’ll just be seen as ‘their seat’ and as much a part of the furniture as the driver’s seat is.
We paused mid-morning for a break, and a visit to the Penguins (what? we were in a ZOOOOOO! Plus it was a really family-friendly event, and the little ones couldn’t be expected to sit through lots of product news without a few animal breaks!), and then we headed back for an overview of the latest Graco products.
There’ll be more details on the rest of the range to come in the coming months of course – I know the travel system is the superstar, but actually it was the ‘in the home’ products I was wooed by. I became an instant fan of the Nimble Nook travel cot (small, portable, simple and comes complete with vibration setting), and the brilliant Swivi seat, a totally versatile 3 in 1 child’s seat that is a stroke of perfect genius in the home. For me it’s these ‘ordinary’ everyday products that show why I’m such a huge fan of Graco, and so excited to be working with them; standard products that every parent buys, and that every parents just needs to work perfectly. And they really do – they’re carefully engineered to really answer the issues parents have. Yes, we all need a travel cot, but please can we have one that will pass through a doorway without needing to be collapsed? Can it also come complete with a new baby bassinet so that I can only buy one to travel with my newborn now and my toddler in two years time? Can the chair I’m feeding my 6mth old her first solids in also work for her when she’s four and just in need of a little boost to reach the table properly?
Of course there was a little face painting – isn’t my girl magnificent as a mildly sparkly tiger? – and a special visit by the fabulous meerkats to round off the event. We couldn’t stop watching the smart, busy little beasts – there was much delighted horror at them figuring out the puzzles to catch the beetles!
Big big thanks to Graco for such a brilliant #GenerationGraco event – not only did we learn loads, we had a fabulous time too.