I was a very anxious first-time mama. When I was pregnant with my now seven-year-old, Sophie, I was a ball of nerves, voraciously reading every pregnancy and baby book I could get my hands on, trying to figure out what to expect from my impending new addition. It’s probably no surprise then, that I took to researching baby gear with the same intensity I tracked week-by-week pregnancy milestones. There was an Excel chart involved, comparing different companies and models for each item we needed, I’m now slightly embarrassed to admit.
I remember everything seemed all the more real when we finally decided on and purchased a car seat. I took it to a car seat installation expert weeks before my due date, just in case Sophie decided to make an early appearance (she didn’t, Little Miss Six Days Late), and it gave me a jolt of nervous excitement to catch a glimpse of the seat in the rear-view mirror as I counted down to my due date. And when she finally arrived, my gorgeous girl with a full head of hair, the sight of her in that car seat gave me pause as we left the hospital—she was here, and she was mine.
I so wish the Clek Liing car seat model, which is manufactured in Toronto, had been on the market when I was sifting through the various infant seat options. Aside from the superior safety ratings in both Canada and the United States, the Liing offers so many of the things I was looking for. At the time, we lived on the second and third floor of an old house in Toronto, and I searched high and low for a lightweight seat that didn’t require too much effort to get in and out of the car. The Liing weighs only nine pounds and is easily released with just one hand. I love that it is also effortlessly installed (with both the Universal Anchor System option and a top-tier belt-tensioning system when UAS isn’t available or possible), and that the metal load leg—an important Clek safety feature—reduces crash forces by more than 40%. The seat has seven different recline positions so that the angle is always perfect, no matter the vehicle (it’s also cool that three Clek seats will fit three-across in most cars). I knew I wanted a sun canopy, knowing we often travelled to see family and friends, and our car didn’t have tinted windows; the Liing has a three-position, SPF 100+ adjustable sun canopy that provides almost full coverage but still has a mesh window for air flow and visibility into the seat. The Liing also comes with a specifically designed infant insert for head support and snug seating. The fabric is also free of brominated and chlorinated flame-retardants, so parents can be sure their bundle of joy isn’t exposed to unnecessary chemicals. Clek sells a fabric cleaning kit, too, which I would have loved given that Sophie—and my younger daughter Juliette, who arrived two years later—are prone to car sickness.
I love that Clek is a Canadian company (it’s actually the only car seat manufacturer in Canada!) with roots in the automotive industry. Owner Chris Lumley was originally an employee of Clek’s previous proprietor, Magna, and, together with wife Jennifer, purchased the company close to ten years ago. The first products were boosters, but Chris realized fairly quickly that the line of seats needed to expand beyond the booster—into infant and convertible seats as well. And work imitated life, as the couple were parents to two small children—Cooper, now 13, and Paige, now 10. “I knew a lot about vehicle seats, on the automotive side, but I was only learning about child seats as a parent,” Chris says. “And, in addition to the utmost safety considerations, of course, some of the debate was also about the eyesore we all have to put in our back seats. So, we set out to design safe, beautiful seats, and it’s our heritage in the automotive industry that makes us totally different.” Today, Clek has grown leaps and bounds from its original offerings (though the Clek boosters—Oobr, Olli and Ozzi—are still just as popular), with a full line of seats to take families from the newborn phase through childhood. The Liing is the newest addition to the lineup, and the Lumleys couldn’t be prouder: “The launch of Liing is a huge milestone for us, because we’re supporting our customers from Day One. Our aim is to give someone the best experience so they’ll stay with us.”
It’s funny in hindsight to think about how seriously I took the new-baby research, but I’m so glad I did. I have had so many friends ask my opinion on everything from diapering to starting school, and it’s because I’m a research fiend that I can answer. The Liing is like a no-brainer, and I’m filing the recommendation away for the next time someone says, “Hey, Katie, what car seat would you buy?”