An infant car seat (also known as the group 0+ car seat) should be at the top of a parents-to-be’s shopping list for baby. BabyTalk tested four leading models…
From the moment your baby leaves the hospital for home after birth, it is highly advisable to secure her in a rear-facing infant car seat whenever she travels in a car. Suitable from birth until she’s around 18 months old (for Asian babies) or when she reaches the seat’s height and weight limits, these seats can be quickly removed from the car and some can be attached to a compatible stroller to create a ‘travel system’.
Safety data shows that keeping an infant facing rearward in an infant car seat for as long as possible offers the best protection. KH Song from nursery retailer Stroller World explained, “Almost 2,000 children below the age of 15 are seriously injured in road crashes every year, out of which 88 are killed. During a collision at 64km per hour, an unrestrained occupant would strike the windscreen, dashboard or back of the front seat with the same force experienced when hitting the ground after falling from a five-storey building. Always ensure your child is buckled up even for short rides.”
Song added: “It is recommended for children in Asian countries to be in car seats until eight years old or once they reach 36kg in weight or 150cm in height, whichever comes first. When shopping for an infant car seat, check it will fit your car and learn to install it correctly by getting the shop assistant to demonstrate how.”
Infant deaths are reduced by approximately 71% and deaths of small children by 54% when car seats are used. – World Health OrganisationWHO did a study and they churned out that when you use a car seat, infant deaths in cars are reduced by approximately 71% and deaths of small children by 54%. Rear facing is more effective.WHO did a study and they churned out that when you use a car seat, infant deaths in cars are reduced by approximately 71% and deaths of small children by 54%. Rear facing is more effective.WHO did a study and they churned out that when you use a car seat, infant deaths in cars are reduced by approximately 71% and deaths of small children by 54%. Rear facing is more effective.
Why Buy Age-Appropriate Car Seats Vs. All-In-One Convertibles?
1. Built to fit
Age-appropriate car seats such as infant (group 0+ from birth to 13kg) and combination boosters (group 1 for 9kg to 18kg) are designed to support a child’s backbone and body structure according to their ages. Contrary to convertible car seats (group 0+/1 from birth to 18kg) which are built for a wide range of ages, infant car seats fit a baby perfectly and are more padded for head and neck protection. These traits offer optimum protection to your child especially during a crash. For group 1, the back support is higher, allowing the child to see better while the height for convertibles is constrained due to its rear and forward-facing features. Additionally, the seat is also wider but convertibles have to be made smaller to fit infants too.
2. Easy to use
Just align the buckle, lock them in and pull to adjust the harnesses.
If your baby is sleeping in the car seat, you can transfer her from the car to the house without waking her up. This maintains a sleep routine especially if you are always on the go.
Not all convertible car seats can fit in the car in a rear-facing position. However, this isn’t an issue for infant car seats.
Infant car seats are lighter and more portable compared to convertible ones, making it easier to transfer from one car to another.
6. Comparatively Affordable
Contrary to popular beliefs, buying an infant car seat first followed by a combination booster as your child grows is as economical as opting for one convertible car seat. This is especially practical if you plan to have more than one child. The table below shows the cost comparisons:
|Option #1: Buy Convertible Car Seat first. Suitable from birth to 18kg (infant – 4 years old)||Option #2: Buy Infant Car Seat first. Suitable from birth to 13kg (infant – 1 year old)|
|What happens when baby #2 comes?||
|Average costs for another car seat||RM1,099||RM1,199|
|Total costs||RM1,099 + RM1,099 = RM2,198||RM799 + RM1,199 = RM1,998|
|Differences||RM2,198 – RM1,998 = RM200|
Infant Car Seat Features
Some car seat features provide important safety and convenience advantages while some are nice-to-haves.
ISOFIX and Base
Higher-end, imported car seats have a system that fits the car seats securely in the car. Sold separately, the ISOFIX ensures accurate installation via a rigid digital system. Some infant car seats come with bases which remain in the car and make attaching and removing the seat easy via a simple click-on mechanism.
Most infant car seats come with an adjustable five-point harness that secures a child above the shoulders, at the thighs and between the legs. Although some feature a three-point system, the five-point harness usually gives the best fit and reduces the chance of ejection.
These allow you to adjust the height of harness to accommodate your child’s growth. To optimise your car seat’s usability, look for one that has many harness slots and have high weight limits.
Recline positions and ‘lie-flat’ capability
Some have adjustable back positions so your baby can nap more comfortable or older babies can sit more upright. Lie-flat models allow better spine development and breathing for newborns.
Deep, strong side impact ‘wings’ on a car seat offers better protection in the event of a side-on crash.
Travel system compatibility
Many group 0+ or infant car seats can be attached to a compatible stroller. Check if adapters are needed to attach the car seat.
As babies can be rather messy, look for washable or wipe-clean fabric. Check its laundry instructions before washing. Leather may look good, but it can become hot in the sun.
If you will be lifting your baby in and out of the car regularly, avoid particularly heavy models.
Some infant car seats offer head hugger that supports a newborn’s head or a seat filler thata makes the seat snug and more comfortable for smaller babies. Other add-ons include extra seat covers and thicker padding. Get them only if they’re made specifically for your car seat by authorised maker and have been tested and certified in crash tests.
THE BIG REVIEW
Weight: 3.9kg Appropriate from: Birth to 13kg
| + Integrates five-point harness system.
+ Integrated canopy made with light and breathable neoprene material that shelters light without blocking air ventilation. Canopy remains intact when handle is put down.+ Serves well as a rocker and can be stabilised with handle to turn into a house seat.+ Light and portable.
|– Manual adjustment required for harnesses.- Thinly padded head hugger.- Three handle positions.- Limited colours and designs available (six).- Compatible with Quinny and Cybex strollers only.|
Basic, easy to use and light to carry, making it ideal for on-the-go parents. Less padded than others, but it’s a great buy for occasional use.
|Ease of Use||8.7|
|Value for Money||9.0|
Maxi Cosi CabrioFix
Weight: 4.5kg Appropriate from: Birth to 13kg
|+ Luxurious padding with a secure U-shaped head hugger that keeps baby’s head in place.+ Comes in a huge range of 12 colours and designs.+ Ergonomic handle fits small hands perfectly.+ Practical and stylish belt hooks make installation easy and fast.+ Has a storage compartment at the back for smaller items. It hides the harness slots and gives an overall neater outlook.+ Can be used as a rocker and a house seat.+ Compatible with Maxi Cosi, Bugaboo, Stokky, Quinny and Phil & Teds strollers to form a travel system.||– Uses three-point harness system- Canopy requires manual attachment to its buckles when used and is difficult to be tucked away into the back of the seat. It flattens when handle is put down, making it impossible to shed baby from light especially if she is sleeping inside.- Manual adjustment required for harnesses.- Three handle positions.|
A well-designed, almost full-featured and comfortable infant car seat that goes hand-in-hand with many brands of strollers. An excellent all-rounder offering value for money!
|Ease of Use||8.9|
|Value for Money||8.8|
Peg Perego PrimoViaggio Tri-Fix
Weight: 5.3kg Appropriate from: Birth to 13kg
|+ Integrates five-point harness system.+ Comes with a firm and adjustable side impact protecting wings that safeguard baby’s head from impact during collision.+ One-hand adjustment for height of harnesses. Saves time in bending down and adjusting them manually.+ Confort Dry fabric keeps cleaning easy and messes at bay.+ More spacious than others, great for bigger babies.+ Non-moveable shoulder braces keep them from sliding out of position and protect baby’s neck and face from being scratched by harnesses.+ Serves well as a rocker and can be transformed into a house seat.+ Four handle positions. One of the positions serves as a seat stabiliser when car is moving.+ Easy to attach and detach from stroller with one-hand press on button.||– Detachable and non-foldable canopy makes it bulky to bring around.- Limited colours and designs available (six).- Can be used on Peg Perego strollers only.- Handle bar is thick – a problem for small hands.|
Sturdy with a reassuringly safe feel. However, it is heavy, bulky and rather expensive.
|Ease of Use||8.7|
|Value for Money||8.0|
Weight: 3.8kg Appropriate from: Birth to 13kg
|+ Has side-head protection to safeguard baby against bumps and shocks.+ Comes with an adjustable belted base, making it fast and easy to attach and remove seat. The seat belt does not go across baby’s legs.+ Ergonomic, anti-slip handle bar for perfect grip.+ Four handle positions.+ Serves well as a rocker and can be transformed into a house seat.+ Easy to attach and detach from stroller with one-hand press on button.+ Seat cover is made from cooling microfiber material.+ Can be used with or without base.+ Available in 11 colours and designs.||– Uses three-point safety harness.- Detachable canopy with non-breathable fabric makes it warm for baby to be in there after a while.- Manual adjustment required for harnesses.- Can be used on Inglesina strollers only.|
A light and sturdy seat that offers various qualities. With the base, this is easiest to use of all those tested. A good value for money.
|Ease of Use||8.9|
|Value for Money||8.3|
Kiddy Relax Pro
Weight: 3.4kg Appropriate from: Birth to 13kg
|+ Integrates five-point harness system.+ Lightweight.+ Double side impact protection absorbs generated force and safeguards the head and shoulders of the child.+ One-hand adjustment for height of harnesses.+ Easy-to-clean and breathable fabrics.+ Comes with an integrated canopy that remains intact when handle is placed down.+ Serves well as a rocker and a feeding chair.+ Thick padding all over.||– Side impact protection paddings cum head hugger are too widely spaced and may not secure newborn’s head properly.- Three handle positions.- Handle is hard to adjust and requires some energy to move from one position to another.- Although it is the lightest among all tested, the size is a little too bulky for petite parents to carry around.
– Only two colours available.- Compatible with Kiddy strollers only.
A great value for money! Ideal for budget-conscious parents who are seeking for basic but durable car seat. Its spacious design lengthens the lifespan of usage.
|Ease of Use||8.3|
|Value for Money||9.1|
Review made possible by Stroller World, a stroller and car seat specialist retailer.