The most important thing you'll buy as a new parent or, parent to be is your stage 0+ carseat. Not only can you not leave hospital without one, but its now a crucial decision as to which brand and model, but to also at what price. The carseat world has become much more complicated with many more brands offering quality products, different scales of longevity and at varying prices. Initially the first seat you'll buy will be a stage 0+.
Stage 0+ (Handheld)
A stage 0+ carseat is designed to be used from birth to 15mths, (13kg) but usually we would say to aim for the initial 9-12mths.
Stage 0+ seats are handheld and designed to be carried in and out of the car as well as being compatible with your pram - giving you a travel system. Most branded good quality stage 0+ carseats will range from £95+ depending on the brand your looking at, though not every brand of carseat will fit every pram so sometimes you'll get funneled into a certain brand depending on the pram system your looking at.
The other huge factor to remember is that not every carseat will fit every car. So making the right choice can sometimes be taken out of your hands and decided more by the vehicles the seat has to fit in.
Stage 0+ seats can be fitted with a standard seatbelt, or with the use of the ISOFIX brackets (these will already be installed in your car, normally from 2000 onwards depending on Make and Model)
Seatbelt installations are safe and still the primary method of installing carseats, however the development of ISOFIX bases over the last decade has made fitting your carseat quicker, easier and safer than ever. Remember using a seatbelt is still safe, but the use of ISOFIX takes away the margin for error that can often accompany installing your seat. Lets remember this isn't the norm, after being up four times in the night, baby crying and it raining, mistakes become easy to make even to the most conscientious parent.
So how does ISOFIX work?
ISOFIX is a mechanical method of installing your child seat, generally not using seatbelt at all. Once the platform / base is installed in the vehicle you simply offer your carseat up and drop it on, this will either display a green light or reveal a green indicator to show the seat is locked in place, it's as easy as that. Removing the seat is normally at the pull of a handle and you're off, ready to go .
Having ISOFIX in your car, doesn't always mean the ISOFIX bases will be approved to fit. Manufactures produce carseat fitting lists to give you the best idea on which seat is most appropriate, but we'd always normally recommend a physical as fit as well so we can take everything into account.
Although as said above the Stage 0+ seat is designed to last for the first 15mths, some bases will last longer, allowing you to utilise them again when you come to the next stage.
The Maxi Cosi Family Fix and 2Way Fix Base offer this feature. Essentially allowing parents to use the base for a group stage 0+ and a Stage 1 seat. Deciding between these two in particular is all related to extended rearward facing and the new legislation R129 arriving in 2018. Costs of buying into this sort of system will certainly be more expensive, but the base will offer you a Birth - 4yr time scale, so whether to buy on price or longevity is a key thing to think about.
All models shown and discussed are available in store as well as other brands. We focus heavily on Britax / Maxi Cosi ranges as they can offer you the very best in safety whilst keeping a wide range of options available, however we are always looking for new brand to expand with.
The legislation on car seat safety is set to change in 2018 from the current standard R44-04 to the new R129 (iSize) and i'll be covering that in more detail in the next blog. I shall also be outlining the next stages of carseats including Group 1, Group 1/2/3, Group 2/3 and Extended Rearward Facing Seats. I'll break these all down into similar sized texts to give a brief outline and hopefully make things clearer !
Until next time Thanks