Newborn Car Safety Seat Buyers Guide, Tips & Reviews
The first baby-seat you buy is the most important. Your newborn is a very fragile creation, and the car baby seat must be perfect.
Basics first. Your newborn baby seat will be rearward facing. Preferably in the front passenger seat so you can keep an eye or him or her, but only if no airbags are fitted. Even if the air-bags are switched off or disabled they can still go off in an accident, so if you've got them, put baby in the rear. Buy a small stick-on mirror to go above baby so you can see the child in your rear-view mirror.
Now, check to see if you've got isofix. New cars should all have iso fix, which is two small brackets fixed between the car's seat and bench. The idea is that special seats clamp onto these brackets so you don't have to use fiddly seat-belts. If you've got isofix, you should use it. But wait, just because you've got iso-fix it doesn't mean all isofix seats are suitable for your car, or any even. You have to check with the seat manufacturer. Isofix guides are available at Britax, Max-Cosi, & Recaro.
The rest of us will have to use a baby seat fixed into place with seat-belts, but we do have more choices before we start looking at which seat. Are we going to look for a travel system, where the baby seat can be transferred to a push-chair, or a more light-weight (and cheaper) seat that's just designed for carrying, or a two-way type seat, which will be rearward facing for the first 9 months then forward facing until about the child reaches about 3 or 4 years old, but these seats tend to be quite heavy and are best left in one car all the time.
Phew! That's a lot to think about, but always remember that the car baby seat must be the correct weight and fit for your child, and the correct fit for your car, you'll only find this out by visiting a shop where you can try the seat in your car, and your baby too.
If the seat is a two-way design, remember to check that it will fit your car in both positions. If the seat is to be transferred between cars, always test for fit in all cars.
A final reminder is to store any instructions that came with your car baby seat safely, and check its fit regularly.
An all-time favourite of mine, the Two-Way Britax First-Class will see baby through from birth to about 4 years, or 0 to 18kgs (0-40lbs).
This seat is best left in your car at all times as it is quite bulky & heavy to lift out. It can also be a tight squeeze rearward facing in cars with shorter seat-belts, or the rear of any smaller car. (Where of course you will have to put it if you have front air-bags).
Always check this seat in your car before you buy - even if it says it will fit in the various guides - as rearward facing the seat can be too upright. This is not a safety issue, more of a comfort one, so try before you buy.
The First Class will recline, and forward facing has two possible seat-belt routings, the alternative of which is very good for avoiding buckle crunch.
A good buy if you want a seat that will last a good few years, but look elsewhere if you want a light weight seat that you can carry baby around in or attach to push-chair.
The Britax Cosi-Tot Isofix is a great baby-seat for new-borns up to about 9 months, or 0-13kgs. It is fairly light-weight, has a swiveling carry handle, and can fix into the car on an Isofix base, for compatable vehicles.
Isofix clamps to the chassis of your car, giving a very good fit, and the base has an additional leg to prevent forward rotation in the event of an impact. Check the Britax Isofix guide to see if your car is compatible.
The Graco Logico S is a newborn baby seat suitable for birth to approx 9 months, or 9-13kg. The Logico comes with an in-car base, which can be secured into place with the car's seat-belts, allowing the seat itself to be quickly and easily lifted in and out (with baby inside) with just the click of a button.
The base has an anti-roll leg to prevent forward movement in the event of a crash, and an adjustable "leveling" device which also helps to secure the base into position.
The seat itself is very roomy, much more so than the above Britax models, and the sun canopy is especially usefull if you use the Logico as part of a travel system with a compatible push-chair or buggy.
Fitting the base into older cars can be tricky - the routing used makes it susceptible to buckle crunch with seat-belts that have long clip stalks, but if this is the case the seat can be used without the base, the seat belt goes across the top of the seat and around to the front.
Overall I really like the Graco Logico S. It meets or exceeds all the safety standards, is light-weight, roomy, and fits very well for a non-isofix seat.
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