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Can anyone help me choose a car seat?

(32 Posts)
KongKickeroo Mon 16-Dec-13 10:21:52

Pretty please smile My DS is almost 10 months old, 50th centile all round, and is currently in a Maxi Cosi Cabriofix. I am thinking of getting an ERF seat for the next stage but am a bit bewildered by the options and going around in circles.

We have a newish Ford Focus without Isofix (no second car atm so car seat will probably stay put). We are oop north so nowhere near the In Car Safety Centre which I've heard is the best, though happy to buy remotely if the seat is easy ish to install.

I am considering:

- Besafe Izi ERF seat - though not sure which one? (Plus or Combi)
- Britax 2-way elite
- Joie stages
- Recaro Polaric
- something else?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

SpottyChristmasCakes Mon 16-Dec-13 10:27:35

I've just bought the joie stages one for £123.50.

I've heard good things from people who have it:

- fits most cars (I know some erf seats need loads of seatbelt
- way cheaper than any other erf
- can use up to age 7

It's also sold in halfords so I was able to look before I bought elsewhere cheaper

Also John Lewis have started doing erf if you have a big one near you?

NoAddedSuga Mon 16-Dec-13 10:31:52

I was just about to say the britax dualfix car seat. Its does all sorts of things! However its isofix only. And the carseat doesnt come off the isofix.

Cars that are a 07 model or above usually have isofix

KongKickeroo Mon 16-Dec-13 16:06:38

SpottyChristmasCakes thank you - it's reassuring to find someone who's bought the Joie, it does sound good (and budget friendly!). Have you tried it out yet? We do have a John Lewis close by, they sell the Polaric and one type of Besafe Izi so will go and have a look.

NoAddedSuga thanks for the recommendation - I looked it up on the In Car website and I like the look of it. Unfortunately the Ford Focus is just about the only car which doesn't fit Isofix as standard wankers (it's apparently a no-cost optional extra when you buy new, but we bought second-hand and it doesn't have it) - but we can get a kit to add Isofix which I'm seriously thinking of doing as it will open up a lot more options.

AliceMum09 Mon 16-Dec-13 20:00:39

ISOFIX will open up more seat options, but ISOFIX ERF seats can only be used up to 18kgs. Belt-fit ones can go right up to 25kgs.

Also, most belt-fit ERF seats don't need lots of seatbelt, because the seatbelt generally just goes through the bottom bit of the seat (under the child's legs) not right round it.

I think you will have a problem getting the Joie Stages into a Focus, because it is fitted more like an infant carrier with the diagonal part of the belt having to go right round the back of the seat. I have read of it not fitting in other peoples Focus because the seatbelts were too short.

Have you tried looking at www.rearfacing.co.uk at their list of ERF stockists? I know there is a place near York called Paul Stride that seems to have a wide range of ERF seats.

I have a Britax Multi Tech 2 which I really like. I have it for 20 month old DD2, but this summer put DD1 (aged 4 3/4) in it for our long holiday drive to Cornwall and back. She was fine in it.

SpottyChristmasCakes Mon 16-Dec-13 20:06:10

Not got it yet just ordered it. I'm happy to update when I receive it smile

KongKickeroo Mon 16-Dec-13 20:30:07

Thank you AliceMum that's really helpful. I've found some North West stockists through the rearfacing website who we can get to quite easily so that's great.

Is there a safety advantage to Isofix at this stage? Or is it just to make installation simpler and prevent user error? The BeSafe Combi is £60 cheaper in the belted version, so factoring in the cost of retro-fitting the Isofix points, we'd save almost £100 going with the belted version - if there is a safety advantage to Isofix I don't mind spending the extra but not just if it's easier.

Hope your like the Joie SpottyChristmasCakes, yes would be great to hear how it is smile

AliceMum09 Mon 16-Dec-13 23:24:37

I think ISOFIX in general is just a simpler method of fitting car seats, not a safer one. My cars have always had it, but I've never had an ISOFIX child seat (I have three children, aged 8, 5 and 20 months).

I think with all child seats, the first time you fit them you have the instruction booklet to hand and maybe watch a video online. It can seem complicated at first, but once you get to know the seat it's much quicker to fit. I have a Britax First Class Group 0+&1 combination seat that I bought for my first baby, and now I could fit it rear or forward facing and adjust the straps with my eyes closed! But at first it took me ages.

Hope you find something to fit your car. ERF is a good choice, I have to admit I put my 8 year old in a forward facing seat at 10 months old - this was 2006 and I'd never heard of bigger rear facing seats. With DD1 I kept her rear facing in the Britax First Class until she was 18 months. With DD2, the more I read about ERF the more I knew I just couldn't put her in a forward facing seat (and actually, although she's 20 months she's only just reached 9kgs in weight, so she'd have had to be rear facing until now anyway!)

My dd has just finished rearfacing a month short of her 4th birthday as she physically outgrew both her rf seats- however she is very very tall, more like a 6 year old!

We had a multi-tech and a two way elite (TWE). Out of the 2 seats, I preferred, and still do prefer the multi-tech as its a lot comfier for the child, has a decent headrest, there is a lot more adjustability in the harness heights, and you don't have to re-thread the harness to adjust the height. Both these seats are the tallest ones on the market, and both go to 25kg. If we would have had dd sat in one of the besafe seats for example, she would have outgrown it a long time ago.

Haivng said that though, the multi-techis a beast of a seat, weighs a ton, and really isn't a seat to be buying if you plan to be moving it around.

Both the twe and the multi-tech can be fitted in minutes, and despite what Which think, fitting them really isn't complicated.

Pictures on my profile of the multi-tech in our old car- a renault clio

KongKickeroo Tue 17-Dec-13 13:09:53

Thanks AliceMum! You make a good point about all car seats being fiddly at first - I remember being flummoxed by the simple little Cabriofix when I got it. I wonder what people did before YouTube? grin I agree about ERF - at first I thought it seemed a bit unnecessary but now that I've researched it I feel I can't in good conscience buy a forward facing only seat, just in case the worst happens.

onetwo thanks very much, that's helpful. I was thinking about the TWE, will look at the multi-tech too. DH is average height and I am on the midget side so DS probably won't be massive, but who knows! smile

KatAndKit Tue 17-Dec-13 16:21:43

Maxi cosi have introduced the two way pearl which is likely to be available in more mainstream retailers. I think britax max fix may well be available n shops like kiddicare.

i have a klippan kiss from in car safety centre and am very pleased with it. It has isofix and belt options and is suitable from newborn in case you have another baby.

TruthSweet Tue 17-Dec-13 17:39:08

I've just bought a Max Way for my 9.3kg/75cm/14m DD4 and it is very small and neat in the car. The actual seat isn't small as we tried my 16kg/1m/4.2y DD3 in it and there's plenty of room for her.

We also got another TWE for DD3 (her spare is one too) and it's a lovely seat. It goes next to the MW so well even with both rfing.

KongKickeroo Tue 17-Dec-13 21:32:48

Thanks very much for the recommendations KatAndKit and TruthSweet smile

besafe have a new seat out which is erf to 25kg. It's not isofix, and should last to 5 or 6 years old.

it's this one

Our daughter is just turning 4 and only coming up to 17kg, so we may get this one to last for a couple of years.

KongKickeroo Wed 18-Dec-13 08:39:20

Ooh thanks worldgonecrazy - the In Car Safety Centre is actually selling that now so it's definitely an option. My only concern is that there is no forward facing option - although I am very keen for ERF as long as possible, I was horribly carsick as a child (still am!) and just wouldn't have tolerated RF, so am a bit wary of not having the option of FF just in case... Though DS seems to have inherited DH's iron stomach and is never sick. I know safety is more important than carsickness though confused

MortifiedAnyFuckerAdams Wed 18-Dec-13 08:45:21

Where oop North are you? Im in Newcastle and have the two way elite in a focus (ordered.online from In Car Safety). If you are local to me, Id be happy to show you the seat, ypu can have a go fitting it etc.

Dnt think its isofix though.

HappyAsASandboy Wed 18-Dec-13 09:22:00

The In Car Safety Centre people (particarly Louise and her mum, Linda) are so so knowledgeable and will be A&E to talk you through all the options. You can order from them to send the seat by post if you decide that's the right option

I have bought/chosen many ERF seats from them, for our two cars, my DMs car and my DSis car. From my extensive (though amateur) research, and many visits to the ICSC, I can add a bitto your thinking:

BeSafe have several seats that are virtually the same. We have two BeSafe IZI Combi ISOFIX X3, which are great seats. The IZI Combi Seatbelt X3 is the same, but non-ISOFIX, obviously. The seat has lots of side protection, lots of leg room (because it has a brace that pushes into the back of the rear seat, holding the child seat away from the backrest of the main car seat), and it is high up so the child can see out of the windows smile On the other hand, the leg is big and chunky, so it's hard to put much luggage in the rear footwell (May not be such an issue if you just have one as you have the other side?), and the polystyrene of the seat comes well forward of the hard plastic casing, so you have to be careful not to lean on the side of the seat so you don't snap it. The seat is built such that the driver/pans sender front seat has to be touching the child seat when it is rear facing, so it is a faff to change the driving position (DH and I have to both compromise so that seat can stay put for either driver!). I use the BeSafe rear facing in our main car, and occasionally forward facing in out second car. As far as I know, the IZI Plus is the same as the IZI Combi (slightly different brace, and may be internal differences), but is seatbelt fitted and so can be used rear facing until 25kg, though I see you are concerned about having a forward facing option too.

The Britax Two Way Elite is a really versatile seat. It can be used rear facing or forward facing to 25kg with the 5 point harness, and fits in most cars. It is the only seat (I think) that you can use a 5 point harnes forward facing to 25kg. The disadvantages are that the front seat must touch the child seat (so hard to move driving position), and there isn't much side protection/head support. It was the lack of side protection that made me chose the IZI Combi over the TWE when we bought seats for my 1 year old twins. Some people say that the tethers make it a pain to move the seats between cars, but to be honest, I find the ISOFIX IZI Combis harder as they are bulkier seats and there is a foot prop etc. We use the TWE seats forward facing in my mum's TT (only Group 1/2 seat we could get in the back of a TT, in case anyone knows of someone struggling to get kids in a TT!), forward facing in our second car, and rear facing in our main car.

The Klippan KISS 2 is a really versatile seat, though it is bulky and wouldn't fit in our cars (sister had it). It can cover a wide age range, but I think it might be ISOFIX only.

The Klippan Trofix was also a contender for our seats. It was a nice seat, though I think ISOFIX only until 18kg.

I have tried to give some info on how we find the seats to use, but the ICSC people have so much more knowledge. They're really friendly, so give them a ring!

From what your said, I think the Two Way Elite will be your best option, as it can be use rear or forward facing, has a 5 point harness to 25kg, fits most cars, is light and easy to move .... a great all rounder really! My only reservation would be the side impact protection for your younger child, but it has passed stringent tests and been approved for 9kg plus.

Good luck in your search (and I hope you escape becoming quite as obsessed as me!).

HappyAsASandboy Wed 18-Dec-13 09:25:50

Apologies for all the typos. Was typing quickly in my excitement to be talking about ERF blush

KongKickeroo Wed 18-Dec-13 20:53:54

Ooh thank you so much HappyAsASandboy - that's so helpful, I really appreciate you taking the time to describe them so well for me! smile I am leaning towards either the BeSafe Izi Combi or the 2-Way Elite. I like the BeSafe for the same reasons you mentioned - it just seems really robust with the deep sides, child high up with more leg room, etc. DS would be behind the passenger seat so we would avoid the issues of moving the driver's seat (DH and I have it in very different positions!) We should be able to manage without the footwell storage and having the front passenger seat well forward - the advantage of having only one child sure as hell not doing all this again We are going to bite the bullet and get Isofix fitted as it's actually quite cheap.

I will give ICSC a call, thanks for the tip!

Mortified thank you for the very kind offer - we are unfortunately the other side of oop North (Manchester) - but it's good to hear from someone who ordered online from ICSC, most reviews I've read seem to be from people who visited and had them fitted in person.

galwaygirl Wed 18-Dec-13 20:58:13

Haven't read all the other replies but we have a max way - originally in a Mondeo - and would highly recommend. Feels so secure and safe and DD lives it. Planning to get a second one for DS when he outgrows his cabriofix.
Think it is one of the neatest and they say it can even fit in a fiesta!

galwaygirl Wed 18-Dec-13 20:59:03

That should say dd loves it!
We have a second one at my parents for her in my dads Volvo which has a tiny back seat space and it fits well

didireallysaythat Wed 18-Dec-13 21:13:04

Can't comment on the seats you're looking at but if you have a short list of two and only one had removable covers and that you can buy a ssecond one, I'd go with that. This is the car seat they pottu train and eat rice crackers in (yes sometimes at the same time) so spare covers are good.

My preference is isofix but I have a 08 car without it. Means the stage 3 chair has to be seat belted in when empty, otherwise when I brake suddenly it comes off the back seat and hits me. Fixing the seat to the car chassis independently of a seat belt makes sense if you can.

4yoniD Wed 18-Dec-13 21:24:04

Joie Stages is one of very few "Don't Buy" car seats from Which?

I think I'm allowed to paste snippets; "It gets a poor score of 26% as a rear-facing Group 0+ seat. Front-impact protection is excellent but the side-crash protection is poor."

"Should I buy it?
No. You need a car seat that will provide good protection from front and side-impact crashes, no matter how it's installed. This seat does not do that."

KongKickeroo Wed 18-Dec-13 21:40:26

galwaygirl thanks for the recommendation! The Max Way looks really great on the ICSC website but then I noticed that it can only be sold in person rather than online, apparently due to a decision by Britax. So I think that's out for us unless we can find a closer supplier - will have a search.

didireallysaythat excellent point re removable covers grin I think I have been lulled into a false sense of security as DS has not been a sicky/messy baby thus far. I expect potty training will change that <shudders> Yes I think Isofix will make life simpler in the long run.

4yoniD thank you for posting that - I don't have access to Which so it is definitely useful to know. You don't happen to know what it says about the BeSafe Izi Combi do you? (I suppose I could stop being cheap and sign up but hey ho grin )

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