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Recaro Zero.1 Elite vs Cybex Z(4 Posts)
So for example, if you have a 2.5-3.5 year gap, then you'd have DC1 in infant seat for ~12-18m, then into toddler seat from ~1-4y. When DC1 is 2.5/3/3.5, DC2 comes along and occupies infant seat from 0~18m. DC1 is at this point about 4-5 years old and growing out (if not already grown out) of the toddler seat anyway, so gets a booster seat, and DC2 goes into the toddler seat. Therefore you only ever need one infant seat and one toddler seat. When DC1 is about 6/7 you'll need a second booster seat for DC2, but high back booster seats are cheap, even for the good ones, so this is no issue.
But if infant and toddler seat are totally inextricable as in the Recaro system, you'll definitely need a second infant and/or toddler seat. And as you've found, both of these are expensive! You can get cheaper infant seats, but in that case, why not just get a cheap infant seat + separate rotating toddler seat for DC1 in the first place? Unless there is something else specific about the Recaro you like, I'm not seeing the utility in it. There are loads of rotating seats on the market now and will be even more/cheaper/better in 18 months' time (as a few being released this year).
Secondly a note on sizing: If you think your child is likely to be long and lean, the Recaro seat (toddler/rotating section) has a standing height limit of 105cm, which is roughly around age 3.5 for a tall (but not giant) child. Other 0-4 rotating seats which go by weight rather than height will last you a little bit longer (months, not years). You might find yourself looking at seats in the larger size which are either rear facing (e.g. Britax Max-Way) or forward facing (e.g. Joie Bold) but the harness goes up to 25kg, which by height is 125cm, for a tall child maximum around 6-7 years of age. (This might be one reason to consider the Recaro system despite not being able to pass individual parts down to younger sibling).
In addition, the infant carrier portion of that seat is only suitable up to 76cm. This may be a problem if you have a long baby - because they will likely reach this height by around 9-10 months, possibly earlier, and have to transfer into the main part of the seat. (It's also quite difficult to measure height on a baby who can't yet stand, but that's by the by.) Not a problem for safety as they can still be rear facing, but can be a problem for comfort, as they still tend to nap in the car at that age, and a lot of the toddler seats are much more upright and don't recline as much as the infant seats, unless they are suitable from birth.
I would be cautious about this idea that you can cover all bases from the start. Manufacturers like this very much because of course it guarantees that you as the parent will spend a huge chunk of money (on that second stage seat) with them as a company, rather than getting to the end of the infant stage and having the whole market to choose from as you would otherwise.
My advice would be in general, either get a 0-4 seat which stays in the car, but don't pay extra for a clip out part for the infant carrier (as this is a false economy, IMO), or get a standalone infant carrier (compatible with most pushchairs on identical adapters: Maxi cosi, Cybex, Joie, Nuna, Besafe, Recaro), with a base if you want one, and then research and decide on the toddler seat (0-4 or 1-6) as a separate decision closer to the time. For most people I think the latter is the better choice, but TBH some infant carrier + base combinations can cost as much as the rotating 0-4 years seats by themselves and in that case if you like the rotating feature and don't need the removable infant seat, why not.
There is nothing wrong with the Recaro seat, it's a very clever design, and the safety rating on it is good, I just think it's expensive for what you get, and from what I've seen from reviews etc people seem to find it cumbersome and impractical in day to day use. However, some absolutely love it and rave about it. If it's definitely the right combination for you, I wouldn't warn you away from it. I would just say be aware of the actual projected age range (for each part of the seat), the potential to pass a set of separate seats down, and the height of it.
@BertieBotts thanks so much for the comprehensive advice.
The Recaro has a main car seat which is suitable up to 4.5 years (with some flex around that as I totally take your point about long children and neither me nor my husband are short so will likely have a lanky one!) and has an infant seat that clicks into the main one. So the infant one comes in and out of the car and attaches to the pushchair - when the baby no longer uses the infant seat and we are putting them in and out of the car seat whilst the seat is still in the car then the rotational piece comes into play.
We do intend to have two (fate willing!) but aren't sure about the gap yet, however I doubt we would have them closer than 2.5 years apart and so I'd be OK buying another cheaper infant one that suits up to 18 months or so so buy the time number 2 grew out of that one number 1 would likely be moving to a booster seat. It's a great point and something I hadn't thought about - but if you have two within that age group then you'd need to buy two car seats anyway right so doesn't it just come down at that point to overall cost?
I guess I'm just trying to cover all my bases upfront when I'm new at this which the Recaro looks like it will do - haven't tried them in a car yet but will of course do that before we take the plunge and good to know that some people find it too high as we have an SUV so it's a bit higher anyway than some cars.
So your overall advice would be to get a fixed seat that is compatible both with the infant car seat from a combined travel system as well as other car seats for older children? Do you have a system like this you could recommend?
Have you tried both systems in the car? Some people find the Recaro is very high up and therefore difficult to actually get the child into the seat. The Cybex infant seat is also very heavy, which is best checked in person. You can use it until around 18 months depending on the size of the child, but the likelihood you'll be able to lug it on and off a pram base at that age is slim.
The Cybex has a second stage seat which goes onto the same base with the same kind of life span.
The rotation in many ways is a bit redundant when you're using a separate infant carrier, because the bit the rotation helps with IME is getting the straps sited and done up correctly, and typically with a removable infant carrier, you're doing this part in the house with as much space and light as you need - then you just click it into the car seat base.
Bear in mind "4.5 years" is an average (and a generous one). Realistically most children outgrow this kind of seat somewhere between their third birthday and about 4.5. If you have an especially large child they might be too big before 3, if you have an especially small child they might be able to use the seat until 5. If you're hoping that this combined system (either the Recaro one or the Cybex one plus the toddler add on) will get your child until they only need a high backed booster, it might be worth being aware of this, because many parents are uncomfortable switching to a high backed booster (using only the adult seatbelt) before their child is 4-5 years old, and are unaware that there are seats on the market which will take children from about age 1-6 years (again some variation based on size - average 5-7). It can make more financial sense to buy a standalone infant carrier and then an age 1-6 seat, than buying the infant carrier, 0-4 years toddler seat and then getting the 1-6 seat when your child is already 3 or 4 years old.
Another point to bear in mind with these "modular" seats is that many people have another baby within about 3-4 years of their first. If you've bought a separate infant seat and then later a toddler seat, that works because you can hand the infant seat down, and then when baby 2 needs the toddler seat, the older sibling is either out of it or that bit older so OK to go into a less protective (cheaper) seat. But if you have one of these systems where one part is dependent on the other part, you'll have to buy another seat (either a baby one or a toddler one) right from the start. If you only plan to have one child, or a gap of around 4+ years, then this might not be a concern.
Narrowing down the car seat options and have come up with two which meet our criteria. The Recaro Zero.1 Elite rotates 360 degrees, detaches to attach to a travel system with an adaptor compatible with the buggy that I want and goes up to 4.5 years so is a clear winner at this stage for me. However I was wondering if anyone has used this vs the Cybex Z system and has any real life feedback they could offer to see if it changes my mind? They're both pretty expensive but the Recaro one going up to 4.5 years kind of negates the expense for me whereas the Cybex only goes up to 18 months and doesn't cost that much less for that...Thoughts? Experiences?
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