You know, sometimes you don’t realise how good something you have is till you have to go without it for a while. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago, when for logistical reason I wasn’t able to take our car seats with us when we flew to visit family. Having to borrow my sister’s car seats, I realised just how much I value our own car seats!
Being a stickler for safety for kids in the car- hell, I even bought the car so they could travel in a safer rear facing position- I was delighted when I got the opportunity to trial two seats from the Kiddy Car seats range In July 2011.
When I was originally choosing car seats, Kiddy didn’t really spring to mind. They were too new in the UK and not featured in the Which? reviews. I had only heard snippets of their unique impact shield technology.
We are very lucky to have been given a chance to trial the Kiddy car seats. Over the past 9 months we have put our car seats well and truly to the test. We have travelled long (15 hours + in one go) and short, covering thousands of miles. My comparison seats to our Kiddy seats are the Britax Evolva 123 and the Maxi Cosy … Both of which are great seats, which I had chosen after a lot of research and thought.
My main criteria for choosing car seats was always safety ratings, fit in the car (a Volvo V40 at the time) and value for money (the length of time the children will be able to use them versus the cost of the seat).
The Kiddy car seats have faired extremely well in comparison to our original seats.
We have Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 and the Kiddy Cruisefix Pro, let me run you through the features that endear me to these seats:
The Kiddy Guardian Pro 2
This seat was love at first sight and it has not disappointed in the long run either!
It serves the child from 9 months to 12 years… that is great value for money in my books! I’ve only had 18 month old to 4 and a half year olds in it and it sure has been easy to adjust the height to fit the child. The older kids don’t need the special protection bar, but my 3 year old still uses it on all long journeys. He actually loves his “little table”.
I was slightly apprehensive of this protection bar- the Kiddy Impact Shield– after reading that children can play Houdini with it. My fears were mislaid. Yes, children can wriggle themselves out of it if they really want to, as one friend’s child started to do. But that’s when I stopped the car and said we are not going anywhere till he stops this silliness… it worked! Little Man has never tried to get out of it. He accepts that it is there for his protection & the policeman will be very angry if he is not strapped in. Children soon realise that it actually gives them more freedom of movement to look around than traditional car seats’ 5 point seat straps did. My Little Man is now a “big boy” and is even allowed to undo his own seat belt when we arrive somewhere.
The safety credentials are very good for the Guardian Pro 2: I watched their safety video before accepting the seats and read all the technical wizardry used to make the car seat safe… and you know the best thing? Despite the high safety spec, this seat is about half the weight of our other two car seats, yet I am convinced it is safer! (It is certainly safe on my back when I am putting swapping them from one car to the other!)
The car seat fits beautifully in both our cars- the Volvo V40 (which is rather compact inside) and the Mercedes Viano. The back of the seat has a tilting angle of about 25-30 degrees- this feature is especially FANTASTIC in cars with captains’ seats or when the car seat is placed on the front passenger seat: You recline the seat and the car seat reclines with it. It’s this feature that allowed us to drive for 15 hours across Europe in the summer with barely any stops, children sleeping very happily in their seat for the whole duration of the drive.
The other aspect of fit is seatbelt routing: Whether with or without the impact shield this is so intuitive, my 4 year old can now strap herself securely in.
The seat has a snooze position. This did not work well for us. We were in the Volvo with Little Man, who is 3 years old. The car has so little legroom, that in the snooze position Little Man’s legs were in the back of the driver’s seat. Believe me, it was very annoying having him kicking me all the way to Birmingham. However, for a 9 month old to about 18 month old this would still work brilliantly, giving them that bit more reclined position to hopefully lull them to sleep.
A feature that I cannot appreciate, with my kids being 3.5 & almost 5 is the 3 stage leg extension. The seat base length is perfect for them at the moment without any extension. I can see it being very useful for very little ones, to help keep their legs straight or much older ones… time will tell.
I love the booster cushion in the seat! It is there as a booster for safely reasons for little ones, but has an added benefit for potty training parents: You insert a plastic bag over the foam inside and then for accidents you only need to wash the cover of the booster cushion which dries very quickly, not the whole car seat cover. (The foam on the other hand takes ages to dry, so don’t wash that!)
The only gripe against the seat: with the impact shield the seat gets quite hot in the summer. Although I have to admit I base this statement on the fact that we did put it to test in the extreme, at nearly 40C with the air-conditioning not really being able to cope. Little Man was soaked front and back. Kiddy have addressed this though by introducing a new accessory- Kiddy becool– a special additional light weight cover for the seat. I will be ordering one of these for next summer. However, Little Man only complained once, so it can’t have been that bad. I just made sure I had a change of t-shirt for him to change into at the end of the trip.
I whole-heartedly recommend this car seat to friends and family too. It retails around £200 and is great value for money, especially if you consider your child will be able to use it for 12 years (…that’s just £16 a year if you break it down)!
Kiddy Cruisefix Pro details to follow…
What car seat do you have? What was your main criteria in choosing it?
Disclaimer: Although we were provided with the seats free of charge for review, my condition on accepting them was that I can write an honest and open review, discussing all the positive and negative points we have found in using the car seats. Thank you Kiddy Carseats for providing this opportunity!