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Car seat help!

(32 Posts)
gigi556 Sat 30-Mar-19 10:50:54

We live in the UK and do not own a car. We have an urban kanga for short taxi journeys/travel. We have a Britax that's much bigger that was given to us by a friend which we've been using for longer car journeys or when we hire a car etc. I've just realized it's expired confused

I guess we don't technically need this second car seat as we have the urban kanga but DP and I feel better about using a sturdier rear facing seat for longer journeys. Son is 12kg and 22 months.

We are going to the USA next month for 2 weeks. Urban Kanga not legal there.

So basically we are thinking we should get a new seat. Maybe buy one in the states?

It's frustrating that they are so expensive and we rarely drive. I've seen ones online that are multistage so good to 12 years, but am I right in thinking they'd expire before my son turned 12 anyway?

I guess I'm just looking for tips advice on what kind of seat would be good for us. I feel kind of clueless.

OP’s posts: |
BertieBotts Thu 11-Apr-19 11:07:51

European seats mostly don't expire, a few newer ones do, but this is usually a recommendation for the US market. If you do have an older seat its age alone wouldn't make it unsafe to use, but it might have wear and tear which would render it unsafe, so it's a good idea to check the seat carefully for things like damage to the polystyrene, any fraying or twisting or stretching in the harness, stress marks on the plastic, missing components (e.g. chest pads, seat cover clips, etc). This explains well:

I would buy something like the Joie Tilt for now or yes the Joie Every Stage/Diono Radian 5 would do you, but I think the difference in price between the tilt and every stage is injustified in your situation, since you can buy a basic, probably more lightweight high back booster for far less than the difference in price. Or a travel seat such as bubble bum which would take up less room. The reason to buy the every stage instead would be if you are hoping to use the seat harnessed and/or rear facing for as long as possible, because of the height of the headrest you can generally use this right up to the 18kg weight limit, whereas with the Tilt and other 0-18kg seats, the harness is limited to expand to around the size of an average 3.5 year old child and no further. (The Diono can also harness to 25kg, if preferred, and the Diono high back boosters are generously sized.)

Joie say if you are using their multi stage car seats for one child, it is valid for the lifespan of the seat's use for that child, but if handing down from one child to another, they suggest a time limit.

I'm not clued up on US seats but I believe most convertible ones are more expensive than the Joie Tilt. Plus American seats are designed to work with US locking seatbelts which European cars do not have. So in terms of seatbelt fitted seats, you're better going EU to North America than the other way around. It's also generally best to get a seat certified in the territory you're mostly going to be using it in.

gigi556 Thu 11-Apr-19 13:22:30

@BertieBotts Thanks for the reply!

We've decided to borrow a car seat from a friend in the USA and buy a new one here.

It's so difficult to navigate the world of car seats! Is there any particular reason you recommend the Joie Tilt? We'd like something ideally with isofix that is extended rear facing. I really like the look of Joie Stages isofix but £300 is a lot of money for us and we don't use it everyday. We would most likely pass the car seat to a second child but we don't have one now or one planned yet.

OP’s posts: |
BertieBotts Thu 11-Apr-19 13:32:46

Just because it's cheap but decent, rear facing to 18kg and fits in a lot of cars. If you're a non driver yourself, I would have thought seatbelt fitted wold be more practical? Isofix also tends to add ~£100 to the price of any seat, which might be OK if you're using it daily but to me doesn't seem worth it for occasional use.

If you go for a seat with long lifespan like the Stages, it's unlikely you'll be able to use it for two children as your eldest will still be in it when the younger one needs it.

Friedeggsandcustard Thu 11-Apr-19 13:37:35

Just to second the Joie Tilt. Its easy to fit in any car and as it comes in one piece its ideal for travel ( flying) most (all?) the isofix extended rearfacing seats have a separate base which are heavy, cumbersome and one more thing for the airline to loose!

My 3.6 year old DS is still fairly comfortable in it - although he is on the small side.

gigi556 Thu 11-Apr-19 14:06:26

@BertieBotts I suppose we don't really need isofix but I really prefer it for easy installation. We used maxi cosi pebble in first year with seatbelt installation and now have the urban kanga which also uses seatbelt and they seem to take a few goes to get in properly and I'm not always 100% sure they've been put in correctly...

The car seat we have that we need to replace has isofix and it takes two seconds to install and it seems kind of dummy proof.

OP’s posts: |
AnotherEmma Thu 11-Apr-19 14:11:35

There is an excellent Facebook group called "Car Seat Advice UK" where you will find lots of great info, advice and discussions.

Do you know what centile your son is for height and weight? Off the top of my head I would guess that 12kg is a higher weight than average for a 22 month old... so if you want him to rear face until at least age 4 (which is recommended) you will need a 25kg ERF seat.

"We'd like something ideally with isofix that is extended rear facing."
You won't get a 25kg ERF seat with isofix, because isofix is not strong enough for the combined weight of the seat and the child. A belted seat is just as safe as isofix as long as it's fitted correctly.

AnotherEmma Thu 11-Apr-19 14:18:44

I recommend the Britax Two-Way Elite which is on offer for £159 atm

BertieBotts Thu 11-Apr-19 19:58:41

OK - well the cheapest isofix seat for your son's age group will be the Britax Duo Plus but that is forward facing only. It's about £140.

The cheapest seat I can find which is rear facing to 18kg and isofix you're looking at the Joie 360 Spin which is about £250. I can see the Britax dualfix is on offer in Mothercare at the moment for less than that as well, but you can sometimes get the Joie 360 for under £200 if you look for offers. But I can't see that this is a practical option for travel and taxis - it's a whopping 12.5kg of seat, and looks massively awkward to transport. It's a fantastic car seat for the price, but it's very much designed to be left in a car. By contrast the tilt is 6kg, the Urban Kanga is 3kg and a typical infant car seat is between 3-5kg.

There are cheaper rear-and-forward facing seats with isofix, but they only have a maximum rear facing weight of 13kg, so will be no good to you - you may as well get a forward facing only one.

The point Emma makes about potentially wanting a seat which can harness and/or rear face to 25kg is worth bearing in mind as well. You lose the isofix, and the seat will be large (the two way elite is meant to be a good travel option, as it's lightweight compared with other ERF seats).

AnotherEmma Thu 11-Apr-19 20:11:06

Yep. And OP needs to consider value for money and not just lowest price - a 25kg seat (like the TWE) lasts until the child is 5/6 years so you'll get more use out of it than a 18kg seat.

BertieBotts Thu 11-Apr-19 21:00:56

Yes, that's true.

gigi556 Fri 12-Apr-19 07:02:45

Interesting thoughts. Thanks everyone. It sounds like I really need to consider rear facing to 25kg with belted fitting... What are my options? I've done a google search but not much comes up. It's all so confusing and must have a crystal ball to predict the future weight of my child!

OP’s posts: |
gigi556 Fri 12-Apr-19 07:09:16

I've just had a look at his red book and he followed the 50-75th percentile for the first year but I haven't had him weighed for about a year. Looking at his weight on the chart now it says he's 91-98th which if he followed would put him over 18kg by 4. Jeez.

OP’s posts: |
teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 12-Apr-19 07:11:49

The lightest 25kg rear facing option in your situation would be the Britax Two Way Elite. Other ones to consider would be the Axkid Minikid, Axkid Move and Britax Max Way. There are others but they're probably too bulky or heavy.

AnotherEmma Fri 12-Apr-19 07:38:08

Here is a list of of 25kg seats (but ignore the last two on the list because they are forward-facing)

If you're anywhere near a branch of the ICSC you could pop in, they are so helpful. And they might be able to advise over the phone too.

gigi556 Fri 12-Apr-19 07:43:30

Ok I am actually confused. I think we want rear facing to 25kg BUT if we went rear facing to 18kg and he outgrows it before he's 4, what are our actual options at that point. Would he be too young to move to a stage 2 seat? I'm just thinking that joie tilt is a lot less expensive than these other seats.

OP’s posts: |
AnotherEmma Fri 12-Apr-19 07:48:56

How much is a Joie Tilt?
The two-way elite is £159 atm.

If you buy an 18kg seat (such as the Joie Tilt) and your son outgrows it before he turns 4, you will need to buy another harnessed car-seat at that point, because he will be too young to go into a high back booster.

If you buy a 25kg seat, when he outgrows it at 5/6 he will be old enough to go straight into a high back booster.

I believe HBBs are a lot less expensive that harnessed seats.

AnotherEmma Fri 12-Apr-19 07:54:27

gigi556 Fri 12-Apr-19 08:13:25

The joie tilt is only £89.

I've had another look at his chart and he's actually only 75th centile (I blame tiredness!) so if he follows that line he'll be about 18kg at 4 years... it's so confusing!

OP’s posts: |
AnotherEmma Fri 12-Apr-19 10:11:50

Whether you get the Joie Tilt or the TWE or another ERF seat, any of those options is going to be much much better than the Urban Kanga.

So if £80 is all you afford, buy the Tilt.

BertieBotts Fri 12-Apr-19 13:37:33

That link isn't especially helpful because it's American. It does show several types of seat but

Legally he can go into a group 2/3 (ie high backed booster) seat from 15kg. No minimum age. Yes some people recommend 4 years minimum - but this is not official recommendation I can find anywhere. It's someone's opinion, based on the fact that rear facing is safer - it is - but it's not illegal to put a 3 year old in a booster seat and I don't (personally) believe it is unsafe. I know Emma and tea disagree with me on this point. You will have to come to your own conclusion.

If you are looking at an 18kg seat like the Joie tilt the problem is not his weight as such but the physical size of the seat, most children outgrow a harness limited to that size before they reach 18kg in weight. This is on purpose so that you don't accidentally use the seat longer than is safe. Most average sized children will reach this limit by about 3.5 - on 75th centile I'd estimate between age 3 and 3.5. Children can change centiles over time. You can't really accurately judge this by height, but the height limit on isize seats of this size is typically 105cm - so you can make a rough estimate based on height centiles. That's a standard group 1 harness.

If your child outgrows group 1 by weight and needs a group 2 seat, your choices are a high backed booster, or an extended harness group 2 (harness to 25kg) seat. There are no extended harness seats which cover Group 2 only, most are either Groups 1&2 combined or group 0/1/2. So what they are saying is if you're going to get to 18kg and buy a harnessed gr2 seat anyway, you might as well purchase one now.

If your child outgrows group 1 by physical size but is still under 18kg in weight, you have a further option which would be a seat which spans both group 1 (harnessed) and group 2/3 (as a booster seat) where the harness is attached to the headrest and expands to the full size of the seat. (Not all group 123 seats work this way). For example, Joie Elevate or Joie Every Stage. In these seats you are still limited to a weight of 18kg for the harness, but you get a bit of extra growing room in terms of height. Once the child reaches 18kg you must only use the seat as a high backed booster.

BertieBotts Fri 12-Apr-19 13:46:06

Oops lost my train of thought - meant to say extended harness group 2 isn't as common here (but can be found)

Breakdown of groups:

Group 0+ - 0-13kg, Most commonly a baby seat with carry handle. Rear facing. Or a rear facing configuration for a convertible seat, 5 point harness.

Group 1 - 9-18kg, Most commonly a forward facing seat with 5 point harness. May also be a forward facing seat with impact shield. May also be rear facing in combination with groups 0 or 2. May be a part of a 123 seat which is a high backed booster with harness. The harness typically may only be used to 18kg.

Group 2 - 15-25kg, Most commonly a high backed booster without harness in combination with group 3, may also be a rear or forward facing seat with harness.

Group 3 - 22-36kg, May be a high backed booster (labelled as Group 2/3) or a backless booster.

isize is done on height and does not have discrete categories but tends to follow these stages/"groups" as well, at least at the moment, seats will be sized similarly to the groups system.

AnotherEmma Fri 12-Apr-19 14:08:17

It's true that the site is American but I think that the post is still helpful, it's clearly written and the recommendations are similar to what you'd read on UK-based websites and blogs that focus on child car safety. Of course the laws are different there. But we all know that the legal doesn't necessarily mean safe.

On the subject of putting a 3 yo into a booster. This is not about rear-facing. Ideally you would rear-face as long as possible but if you do decide to forward-face it is still safer for a 3yo to be in a forward-facing seat with a harness rather than a booster with the adult seatbelt.

I have screenshotted this from the FB group Car Seat Advice UK (unfortunately I couldn't share a link). You will see that for children over 15kg but under 4, they recommend harness over booster. (Note recommend, this is not the law.)

I just don't see the point of buying a seat for a 22mo that they might outgrow when they are 3/3.5, even if it is only £89. You might as well get a seat that goes up to 25kg/group 2, whether it's rear or forward facing.

I wouldn't put a 3yo in a booster, but then I wouldn't put my child in an Urban Kanga either. We all have different attitudes to risk.

BertieBotts Fri 12-Apr-19 14:21:52

I'm aware of that recommendation, but it's just somebody's opinion really. I just have never seen this claim about the skeleton substantiated anywhere, a facebook group is not an official source, even if it is run by "experts". As far as I am aware it is simply a UK based arm of the US blog "car seats for the littles". There is lots and lots of evidence about rear facing, forward facing harness vs booster is less clear, at any age. It's everyone's choice to make as a parent really. I do think it's a good thing that harnessed seats to 25kg are available for those who want the option, I'm just not convinced it's automatically the right option for everyone to need to harness until (insert age here).

AnotherEmma Fri 12-Apr-19 14:37:18

OK then, ignoring the safety aspect, you could just look at the sums.

18kg seat, assume it's outgrown at 3.5 (42 months). OP's child (22mo) would use it for 20 months. A Joie Tilt costs £89 which is £4.45 per month of use.

25kg seat, assume it's outgrown at 5.5 (66 months). OP's child (22 months) would use it for 44 months. A TWE costs £159 which is £3.61 per month of use.

OP, this is yet another link, but it's a UK one this time wink and it's a good summary of the budget options:

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