I’ve become a little bit obsessed with finding a comfortable and safe car seat ever since my son was born. We’d never had any problem with our older boys on car journeys but this little chap seemed to hate, and I mean that in the strongest sense of the word, being in his for longer than 10 minutes.
After struggling on for 7 months, avoiding as much car travel as possible, it was time to admit defeat and start looking around but the market had changed so much and I simply didn’t know where to start. But budgets were also very limited so I settled for what I thought was a nice, safe comfortable one.
Sadly that didn’t work.
He really seemed to hate the restriction of the 5 point harness. But with our forward facing seat there wasn’t another option. Or was there? My next round of research led me to the latest trend in safer seats; the impact car seat. These cam with a separate impact shield which was held in place by the car seat leaving the arms completely free.
The idea is that an impact, the shield acts like an air back, cushioning the child’s torso and spreading the forces across a wider area, reducing stresses on single parts of the torso. The whole upper torso will move together rather than with a harness which restricts shoulders and hips, but does not take the head and neck movement into consideration. A toddlers head to torso is proportionately heavier in comparison to an adult, therefore the forces applied to a toddlers neck are higher with a 5 point harness. And there lies the problem, along with the fact that many, mine included, tend to slip their arms out of them.
And so we gave the Kiddy Phoenixfix 3 car seat a go.
Fulfilling the ECE-R44/04 European Safety Regulations as well as the new roll over test ‘Supplement 7’, it passed with flying colours. That had me assured we were doing the right thing.
Looking like a normal high back booster, it’s held in place with K-fix+ connectors which being slightly longer than our old isofix, meant I can move it slightly sideways when putting the toddler in and out of the car. I thought it was a design fault at first and questioned the safety as it had so much give but after checking it out on the Kiddy Uk website it’s actually adds to the safety as in the event of a side impact, the seat will slide sideways, and protectively push your child inwards away from the impact zone. The isofix connectors also have the handy option of being retractable so you can move it easily from car to car or even use it on a plane.
There’s the option to pop it in a recline position too which I’d not had on my old high back booster, a must for naps and to help stop the head from falling forward. And there seems lots of support around the head rest which can be adjusted, along with the padded seat, with removable cushion which helps give my son a little extra boost so he’s not hidden under the impact shield.
Getting my boy in and out is relatively easy too. once he’s in and I’ve made sure his back and bum are pressed up to the back (otherwise he sits too low under the shield) you attach the impact shield on top of his legs and into position under the arm rests. You then bring the seatbelt round, fixing it in place and slide it into place in the holds. It takes a bit of fiddling with the seat belt to make sure it’s tight and I did find it had a tendency to push in to one side if you didn’t get it right, but once in, my son could rest his arms on top.
It’s really is amazing how much the whole baby and toddler market changes so quickly and is worth doing your research on whats available out there. Given that extended rear facing is now the option, for any child who doesn’t find the restricted leg space comfortable, the impact shield car seats seem to be the way to go.