2 March 2015

Our car seat dilemma - part one

Back in the summer when we were just a few months into this pregnancy my thoughts turned to the logistics of fitting 3 child car seats into the rear of our car, three children in car seats all at different stages, did we need to purchase a new car in the new year before the arrival of Little 3 to fit them all in? We currently have a Renault Megane Scenic which will need to be replaced in a year or two anyway but could we fit everyone in and make do for a year or so while we saved up for a 7 seater car?

I am hot on car seat safety and will not compromise on the safety of our children unless I really had to in an emergency, it is just not worth it and I would never forgive myself if anything were to happen. I like the idea of rear facing for a bit longer and keeping the child in a 5 point harness and a seat with side impact protection for as long as possible.

When Little 1 was born in 2009 she initially used the infant carrier that came with our travel system and clipped into a base safely installed in the car but that is when the problem started. Every time she was put in the seat in the car from only a week or two of age (not when it was attached to the pushchair) she screamed and I mean screamed for the whole car journey until she either fell asleep or we arrived at our destination, I used to sit in the back of the car with her and sing or hold her hand and try to stop it, it must have been very distracting for Daddy driving. It wasn't until one day when she was about 2 months old and had fallen asleep in the seat that I realised her chin was on her chest and she was breathing a bit funny, being a small baby (born less than 6lbs) I realised that the angle of the seat was too steep and we needed something else, she must have been trying to tell us she wasn't comfortable. We quickly went out and bought one of the seats with great reviews (at the time, but still a good one now!) a Britax First Class Plus which covered from birth until age 4 and was rear facing until around 15-18 months. At the time extended rear facing seats were not on the UK market or information readily available on the subject and as a first time mum I didn't really know anything about them. 

Our First Class Plus in newborn mode

From that moment on she never cried in the car and was much more upright, higher up and slept peacefully in the seat, we never used the infant carrier again in the car. She remained in that car seat rear facing until she reached the maximum weight for the seat rear racing at around 17 months, many of our friends asked why she was still facing backwards when they had placed their 9 and 10 month old children forward facing as soon as possible and I always replied because it was safer. She continued to use the First Class Plus forward facing until her sister came along when she was 2 years and 4 months old and we reclaimed the seat for her to use from birth.

I did some online research (3 years ago now) and we moved Little 1 into the next stage seat, another of the recommended and highest ranked seats (again at the time) that would last until she was much older and used a 5 point harness for a good length of time (again extended rear facing seats were not readily available and I still didn't know much about them so went with what I thought was the next best thing). The seat we bought was a Britax Evolva 123, this seat is forward facing and is suitable from age 9 months with a 5 point harness, however I would not put such a young child in a seat like that as it is very upright and personally I feel far too young to go forward facing. It can then be used from 18kg with an adult belt as a high backed booster until it is outgrown at around age 11. At almost 2 and a half when she moved into it, Little 1 was about the right age I feel for this seat, she was comfortable and it supported her if she slept and the seat offered excellent head and side impact wings as well as a decent 5 point harness that would last.

The only pic of the evolva I have! (a car picnic)
Little 1 still uses this seat (she will very shortly have to vacate it for Little 2 to use with the 5 point harness so that Little 3 can have the First Class plus from birth). At 5 years old she is still comfortable in the seat and has lots of room, she reached the 18kg weight limit for the 5 point harness at around Christmas just after she was 5 years old and we switched her to the 3 point belt, she is rather sensible in her seat but now she can move and loosen the belt herself she has a tendency to lean forwards to reach things or her sister and we have had to stop the car several times and tighten her belt. I have to be honest and say however I would still prefer her to be in a 5 point harness for a bit longer. The only downside we have found to the Evolva is that is is a very wide seat (also a big plus too), our car is quite big and you can still fit an adult fairly comfortably in the back between the two child seats but fitting three child seats in the back between these wide seats is another post!

I would have loved to buy an extended rear facing seat this time around, there are lots on the UK market now and many that Little 2 could be using too, I have seen one that even Little 1 could be using and another where she could be in a 5 point harness still for another good year at least but unfortunately, being a stay at home mum, we can not afford any of those especially when there isn't anything wrong with the car seats that we already have!

Check back soon for part 2 of our car seat dilemma, did we manage to fit 3 seats in our car?

1 comment:

  1. It is such a difficult decision getting the right seats isn't it. We wanted to keep our daughter rear facing for as long as possible, however, the next stage rear facing seat we bought was recalled and we couldn't get another one to fit in our car (which at the time was a supposedly family friendly Vauxhall Zafira!). In the end we had no choice but to buy a forward facing seat. I look forward to hearing your solution!


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