Full disclosure: Clek is an active TLB sponsor at the time of writing this review. I do not receive any financial compensation for any of my reviews, the product is all I receive so I can review it. The financial sponsorship of Clek for TLB has no bearing on my review and I will share my honest opinion of their product, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. If, at any time, being open and honest with my readers does not work for a sponsor and they choose to withdraw their support of breastfeeding mothers through sponsoring The Leaky Boob, I would rather they move on anyway. My readers can trust that this review is free of any manipulation or effort to preserve my relationship with Clek.
Disclaimer: I am not a child passenger safety technician or any kind of car seat expert. I’m simply a mom of 6 kids and I’ve used a lot of seats. My opinion is simply that, my opinion and I can’t give you any kind of credentials that says you should listen to it. I have been using the Clek Foonf for the past 3 months.
This review shares our experience with the Clek Foonf and our thoughts on the seat. If you don’t have much time, you may want to skip down to the end for a summary.
I remember when we were expecting our eldest and we had to pick out a carseat. I was 20 and The Piano Man was 22. We walked into the big box store and looked at the display of seats that seemed ridiculously huge to hold such a small person. It was overwhelming. We read the features and didn’t understand what they meant. Intimidated we went and asked for help from a store employee, an even young guy that we hoped would know more than we did. He showed us the most popular seller, a bucket seat that was part of a travel system and it had a low price point. Plus, we liked the color scheme.
And just like that, we picked out our seat. We figured all the seats were the same and we knew nothing about checking installation. In the more than 14 years and now 6 children we’ve been dealing with child safety seats since that day, we’ve learned a lot and make our decisions regarding seats in a much more thorough fashion now. I now know lingo and recommendations, have talked with CPSTs, watched videos, and learned some of the different safety standards around the world. I know what’s important for our family in a seat and it doesn’t matter what the most popular seat is and the color is just a bonus.
Still, selecting the right seat can be an overwhelming task. The most important thing I’ve learned about selecting a car seat? Select the safest seat you can properly install and use according to your budget. Having a seat with a high safety rating means nothing if you don’t install and use it properly. I actually cringe about some of the seats we’ve used over the years. Worse, I nearly cry when I think about how we installed and used some of them. So grateful that in spite of our ignorance and poor seat usage our children are ok. I am all too aware that if we had been in a serious accident I probably couldn’t say that.
Now we know better so we can do better. Being aware and better educated on the issue of child passenger safety (by no means an expert!), I was intrigued when I learned of the new convertible seat coming from Clek, the Foonf. Just as Sugarbaby was reaching the point where she was outgrowing her infant seat, the Foonf became available. I had the chance to play with the seat at the ABC Kids Expo and liked what I saw. Because I’m not an expert, I talked with CPST Jamie Grayson, The BabyGuy NYC and CPST Christie Haskell to hear their thoughts on the Foonf. They explained how many of the safety features utilized technology haven’t been used in child passenger safety seats before and shared their own excitement about how this seat could greatly improve the industry overall. Curious as to how well us normal, non-CPST parents could use the seat, we decided to give it a try. There were so many features that we liked when we read it, it seemed worth giving it a go. Quick specs on the Clek Foonf:
When our seat arrived (a Christmas gift for Sugarbaby- she loved the box) I have to admit to being a little intimidated. It seemed so… nice. And high tech. I wasn’t sure we could even figure it out properly. So it sat for 2 weeks until we had a day with nothing on our schedules just so we could take plenty of time setting it up. Turns out we didn’t need all day. We watched Jamie’s video and the video on the clek site before we attempted our own install. It was fairly simple and though we had some issue getting the rebound bar in place because it’s a tight fit (not a bad thing!) and The Piano Man had it right for about 10 minutes before realizing it. Without a doubt it was the easiest seat we’ve installed that we felt the most secure about. It was so stable so fast. I have never felt so confident that we installed a seat correctly. In fact, installing it and seeing how secure it is made me want to recheck the seats our 3 and 5 year old are currently in. I have loved their seats (Diono Radian RXTs) though after playing with the Foonf I’m not quite as in love with them as I had been. They are still great seats, it’s just the technology, features, and ease of use of the Foonf is just so much more advanced. It’s kind of like watching the special effects of a movie that used to wow you but ten years later they look less impressive.
We had to use the seat belt install as our van (Nissan Quest 2001) doesn’t have the LATCH option. The seat belt install was far more stable than we expected and so much easier than we’ve ever experienced. Even The Piano Man’s larger hands had no issues. The only problem we ran into with the rear-facing seat belt install? We managed to miss that the internal lock offs for the seat belt were two pieces and were trying to secure it with only one. Once we figured that out it was a snap, literally. It was so easy to install we were actually nervous that we did something wrong. So we called Jamie. He talked us through it, looked at pictures I texted him, and he confirmed that it actually is that easy.
Note: I still recommend having your installation checked by a CPST in person just to be sure, at least your first time installing a new seat.
Sugarbaby has never been a fan of being in her car seat. Even approaching the van with the door open would lead to her getting worked up. As a busy family with 6 children involved in activities, never being in the car simply wasn’t an option. So we’ve all endured her hate for trips in her seat. The first time we used the Foonf, she predictably freaked out. There was no way she was going to be happy about being in a car seat no matter how impressive a seat it is. But gradually, over the next week or so, we began to see something new from her in the van with less crying, then less fussing, then no fussing, then happy babbling baby. Complete 180, now she actually reaches for her seat when we approach the van. I’m not sure it is simply that the seat is more comfortable, that she actually has more room in the seat, or that it has a higher base so she’s higher up, but it was a relief to no longer have a screaming baby in the van any time we have to go somewhere. A happy baby in an unshakable seat = happy mommy. If we were ever to be in a serious accident, while there’s no way to be 100% sure, I have little doubt that Sugarbaby would emerge unscathed, probably even happy.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; because I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
What I liked (or “The Good”):
I love, love, love that the Foonf is so easy to install. The easier to install a seat is, the more children will safe. The internal lock-off clips are amazing. I can’t get over how well they secure the belt. When friends ask to see the seat that’s the first thing I show them because they are just. that. amazing. I also love the storage for the latch connectors since we don’t have the latch option and I hate having to deal with those things in the way with our other seats. How secure that rebound bar makes the seat, incredibly stable, is a huge selling point as well. AND this seat is 100% recyclable. So when we’re finally done with it I love knowing it won’t be headed to a landfill. But that’s another thing, we may not be done with it until she’s driving herself. With the weight and height limits on this thing she may be taking it with her to college. Ok, not really but it has the highest weight limit for rear-facing in the USA (slightly lower in Canada) and will easily keep her safely rear-facing until her 4th birthday. Which is awesome. It is likely that she will be in this seat forward facing for a good long time as well, I suspect until she’s about 6 years old. Talk about your money’s worth. This may not be the case for everyone, each child is so different it depends on how they grow but with a 9 year, yes you read that right, a NINE year expiration on all of clek’s seats the potential is there or to have the seat for another baby when the older one grows out of it. Having a seat so long it could easily get gross but clek has thought of everything and the fabric cover is not only entirely removable, it is a GREENGUARD Select Certified Crypton Super Fabric which, according to their site, “provides permanent protection against stains, moisture, and odor-causing bacteria.” When Sugarbaby puked a bit in her seat I simply wiped it up with a cloth and there was no sign it had ever been there. Though you can see the Crumpled REACT Safety System, knowing it is there is a huge comfort. We haven’t been able to afford to upgrade to a newer vehicle so we really appreciate this extra level of safety in Sugarbaby’s seat. It’s trim size (it looks so much bigger than it is) makes it possible for 3 seats in a row in most vehicles. Lastly, though I don’t pick a seat any more based on the color scheme and look of the seat, I do love how the foonf looks. We selected the Dragonfly model and the green cover and white base look sharp and cheery. One of my favorite features, silly those this may sound, are the magnets that keep the straps out of the way when putting baby in the seat. No more fishing for them behind her!
But my favorite thing about this seat has little to do with the seat and everything to do with the fact that my daughter is finally happy in her seat.
There’s a lot of “The Good.”
What I didn’t like (or “The Bad, and The Ugly”)
I hate the price. In fact I squirm a little telling people about the seat and I have to share the price. I’m kind of embarrassed to have a seat that costs so much. It seems so… extreme. At $479 it’s a pricy piece of equipment. Safety equipment. However, this isn’t a seat that lasts for a few months and if your child sits in it rear-facing for 4 years it works out to $119.75 annually for their safety. If they are in it for a year or more beyond that, it’s even less. I decided to ask Jamie Grayson if the seat was worth such a price tag and here’s what he had to say:
I can’t tell you if the Foonf is “worth” the price. That’s completely subjective because everyone operates on a different budget. What I can say is that the quality of materials used, the safety technology involved, and the ease-of-installation with the rigid LATCH add up to an incredible seat. Add to that fact that it rear-faces to 50lbs (USA only, Canada has a slightly lower weight limit on that), is incredibly narrow yet has a wide seat for kid’s comfort, and the fact that the upholstery is GreenGuard Certified, and the Foonf is something to be reckoned with. When all is said and done, the above features combined might make people view the price differently.
I know that coughing up that cost up front can be challenging but we’ve personally decided that even though we won’t get as many years use out of it, we will be purchasing a second foonf to keep our petite 3 year old Smunchie rear-facing longer. When it comes to baby gear, I’m all for simplicity and choose to select a few key items where we will spend the money for higher quality and do without. For example, we currently do not have a stroller or a crib and would rather invest in a higher priced car seat. The Foonf is the most expensive baby item we own and while I didn’t pay for this one we are saving to purchase another. I absolutely believe it is worth it. So I hate the price but I understand it and personally feel that the upfront cost is balanced out by the long term pay off for our family.
Also, Clek has created the Foonf in Drift for $399.99 –it is the non-Crypton fabric and does not have the magnets that I adore, but it is still a great value. Those things are really just fluff anyway, it’s the safety features that are the real point.
I also don’t like but understand the weight. Weighing in at 36 pounds rear-facing and 32 pounds forward-facing, you’re not going to want to lug this very far. It’s heavy. But when you look at all the safety features the thing is loaded with, it’s not a surprise. Reinforced steal and magnesium underbelly, an Anti-Rebound Bar, energy-absorbing foam lining on the inside and outside of the frame, head protection and side-impact collision protection, high weight and height limits, LATCH storage, etc.. Features like these don’t come light. All this is going to weigh something. I agree with Jamie, if you’re going to be taking this through the airport, get one of those carts so you don’t hurt your back carrying 36 pounds of top notch safety technology.
This is a small thing but I felt I needed to be honest and share anyway. The Foonf sits rather high and it makes me nervous sometimes that I can’t see out the window on that side very well. However, that’s what we have side and rear view mirrors and my baby girl is so happy, perhaps because she can see out better thanks to being up higher. This is a very minor point for me, really just an observation.
As amazing as all the neat safety features are, I’m not sure I completely “get” how incredible they really are. Instead, what I love about this seat is simply that it’s usable. I feel confident that I can install it correctly and the ease of which that installation requires makes me want another one. Knowing it has such cutting edge safety technology is comforting but I’m never cutting edge on anything so it’s only a minor selling point for me. We’ll be buying another one because we’re confident that how we as parents use the seat is safer than any other seat we’ve owned. For me that makes it worth every bit of that price tag and the hefty poundage.There is no doubt in my mind that a car seat is the most important purchase I am making for my child’s daily safety and I feel the Foonf is well deserving of the investment. I am thrilled with this seat and am looking forward to getting one in Snowberry. I can’t tell you if the Foonf is the right seat for your family but I’m confidently recommend those in the market for a new convertible seat consider it.