Recently I produced a baby, and because I want to take this baby in the car, I bought her this car-seat, and put her in it. She seems to like it. I like it, too, because my baby feels safe when she is in this seat. She also looks comfy. I've seen other car-seats, mostly plastic ones, that look as though they'd be terrible to sit in, but this one is soft in all the right places and hard in all the right places. It's front-facing, so I can see my baby through the rear-view mirror and she can see me, which I think is a lot better than a rear-facing car-seat where all she'd be able to see is the interior of the car. And it's easy to fit, just a matter of strapping the seat-belt through the correct places. Once it's strapped in, it's very secure, and there's hardly any movement at all - other car-seats I've tried, no matter how hard you tightened the straps/seat-belt, there always seemed to be a lot of movement that I, personally, found worrying. It says in the instructions that it should last until my baby's about 4, but I have my doubts about that - nothing against the car-seat, but it doesn't look as though a 4-year-old'll fit in it. It'll be good for a couple of years, though. What's more, it's very reasonably priced.
I was never overly happy with the car seat that we had for Jayden to start with, there was nothing wrong with the safety of it, but personally I always felt that it was bulky, heavy to carry and difficult to get Jayden in and out of it, so as soon as he was big enough me and my Husband purchased him a new front facing car seat.
After a bit of shopping around we came across the Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat, it seemed ideal for what we wanted and was also reasonably priced. Obviously safety was the main thing we were looking for when purchasing a new car seat and we were happy with what we read about this car seat and decided to go for it.
I was quite surprised to discover that the Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat does not come in a box or any sort but simply came wrapped in a large clear plastic bag. Personally I didn't really mind this as it meant less packaging for me to get rid of and the bag was large enough to cover the whole car seat keeping it clean and unmarked, having no box also made it much easier carrying it from the shop to the car as you had more to grip onto.
The Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat is basically a moulded style seat on a plastic base, the base of the seat is made from black plastic, this is the same size as the base of the car seat and curves up three quarters of the back of the seat, it is this part that sits flat against the back of the car seat.
The actual seat part of the car seat where your baby sits is also made from a strong and sturdy plastic which has moulded and curved edges for extra comfort for your baby, along with high sides and wider sides around the head area.
The whole thing is padded and covered in a black polyester fabric, there are also addition inner support cushions fitted in the car seat which again are padded for extra comfort and are made from a light grey fabric.
The harness style seatbelt is made from a tough black fabric (similar to that of a regular seatbelt) these have harness sleeves over them which are padded and made from the same black and light grey fabric that the rest of the seat is made from, the underside of these harness sleeves are covered with a black rubbery type material so that they do not slip against your baby's clothing helping to hold them in place.
There is also an extra buckle pad which sits just behind the buckle for added comfort, this too is light grey to blend in with the rest of the car seat. The buckles that alter the straps and also the buckle that the straps clip into are also made from black plastic so that they blend in with the rest of the seat, the button to release seat belt buckles is a bright red plastic so that it stands out and can easily be seen.
The Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat is suitable for both the front and back of the car, personally I only put the car seat in the front of my car as I have a 3 door car and will not put it in the back without easy access, however the car seat has been put in the back of my Husbands car so I can confirm that it does fit well in both the front and back of a car.
This car seat is a front facing seat which I personally think is so much easier for getting your baby in and out of the car, with the rear facing seat I used to have it got to be a bit of a struggle getting Jayden in especially if he decided he didn't want to go in the seat, however he loves the fact that he can see where he is going and there is no fiddling around having to turn him round to face the back of the car and get him in the right position he can be sat straight in the car and strapped in.
Other features of the Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat include
* Fits with a 3 point harness - This car seat will fit in most cars with a regular style seat belt making it easy to fit and secure in place.
* Side Impact Protection - As I have mentioned in the appearance section the sides of the seat are moulded and shaped giving your child extra protection, the area around the head comes out the furthest giving additional protection to this area.
* 5 Point Harness - The car seat has a 5 point harness to ensure that your baby is fully secured in the car seat and safe
. * Quick release Buckle - The buckle on this seat is designed to be quick releasing should you require to remove your baby from the car quickly, you simply press the red button down and both sides of the harness are instantly released allowing you to remove you baby from the seat.
* 5 Recline Positions - The car seat can be reclined into 5 different positions, this is so that you can adjust the seat to the individual making travelling more comfortable and also allowing your baby to sleep comfortably whilst in the seat.
* Body Support Cushions - Inside the seat there are support cushions, these are designed for younger children helping to keep them in place in the car seat and so that they are secure and safe whilst travelling.
* Padded Seat - The whole car seat is padded to make it more comfortable for your baby while travelling, the padding goes over all of the edges so that there are no hard parts that could make your baby uncomfortable whilst in the car seat.
The Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat is of an average size compared to other car seats and measures 60cm(H) x 45cm(W) x 52cm(D) The car seat is designed for babies between 9 and 18kg, although I think you need to go on the individual baby as to whether this car seat is suitable for them, Jayden was 9 months old when we bought this car seat for him and he was able to support himself well and sit up pretty much unaided so was fine in the car seat, however younger children may not be able to support themselves as well making the car seat not as suitable, you do also need to go on the manufacturers guidelines for weight recommendations.
Fitting the Car Seat
Again with my old car seat it wasn't hard to fit the car seat but it was more fiddly and awkward, so when I purchased the Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat I was hoping that this would be easier to fit as we do swap the car seat between my car and my Husbands depending on whose car we are using at the time.
All you need to do when fitting this car seat is position it on the seat of your car ensuring it is level and not hanging over the edges and that the back is flat against the back of the car seat.
There is a thick layer of foam between the actual car seat and the plastic back of the baby seat with a large gap between the two, you then simply thread the car seatbelt through this gap and the fasten it as your would if you were strapping yourself into the car, in theory you are strapping the baby car seat in in the same way.
There is a chunky red clip that is attached to the back of the baby car seat with a long pieces of black string, this opens out wide and can be clipped around the car seat belt just above where is fastens, this secures it and prevents it from slipping and becoming loose, it helps to secure the baby car seat in place and prevents it from moving around.
Securing you Baby
When it comes to securing your baby in the car seat it is very easy, you simply place your baby in the seat facing the front as it is a front facing car seat, you then put your baby's arms through each of the harness straps and put the two clips together and clip them into the buckle, one quick press and the harness will be fastened.
To tighten the straps you then pull the tabs on each side so that they are secure and comfortable. To remove your baby from the seat you then loosen the straps by pulling them through the plastic buckles and then press the red button to release the harness. The whole process is quick and simple although I have made it sound a bit complicated.
Price and Availability
The Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat is available from Argos and costs £37.49, however it should be £49.99 and currently has money off it which it did when we bought it. Personally I thought this was a very reasonably priced compared to some car seats you can buy. I wasn't too worried about the price when I was looking for a car seat, the main thing was Jayden's safety, however the fact that it had money off of it even when we purchased it a few months ago was an added bonus.
There are no specific care instructions for this car seat, however the covers are removable and can be washed, they cannot be put into the washing machine and have to be hand washed only.
We have been using the Baby Start Recline Group 1 Car Seat for several months now and have been extremely pleased with it. Firstly fitting the car seat is quick and easy making it easy to swap the seat between mine and my Husbands car when needed, also the seat is not overly heavy, again handy when swapping cars with the seat.
The car seat is safe and secure for you baby and fully padded making it extremely comfortable. The harness straps fit well and can be easily tightened or loosened to fit your child, the quick release button also makes getting your baby out of the seat simple as well.
One thing we haven't really used with the car seat is the 5 recline positions, personally I have not felt the need for them, they are designed so that your child can sit and sleep comfortably in the car seat, however I find that Jayden is in the perfect position without reclining the seat and he also sleeps very well with it in this position and does not need is reclined, he does not flop forward at all and seems very comfortable in the seat.
With his old car seat it was getting to the point where it was a bit of a battle to get him in the seat and strapped in, however with this seat he has no problem with being put in it and will happily sit there while we strap him in with no paddies or crying and once he is in place he is relaxed.
The seat is very reasonably priced and in my opinion is well worth the money, it is strong and sturdy as well as hardwearing and extremely safe, once the seat is strapped into a car to is secure and does not move around. The design of this car seat is very neutral and makes it ideal for both boys and girls. Overall I would highly recommend this car seat.
I don't actually have children, so it may seem odd to be reviewing a car seat, but never fear, I do have a niece who is pushing 18 months and thus don't use this product myself. As the first (and currently only) grandchildren of the family she does receive a lot of attention and spends a fair amount of time in the care of my parents and me. As such, it seemed a natural progression to buy a car seat. The one in my sister-in-law's car is an Isofix model (which we don't have) and buying this Babystart model means we can take her to playgroup and out and about safely and comfortably.
The seat is designed in conjunction with three-point seat-belts, which I believe most cars have, and fits both in the front and back seat. However, it is recommended for the back seat primarily, because front-facing car-seats should never be combined with airbags. My dad fit the car-seat by threading the seat-belt through the contraption on the back of the car seat and securing it. This doesn't lock into an Isofix system, so it is ideal for sharing between cars that don't have that fixture. When fitted the car seat doesn't - or shouldn't - move about, even on slippery seats such as ones covered with leather.
This particular seat is Group 1, meaning it is suitable for children aged 9 months onward, or children weighing 9kg or more. As well as not being intended for newborns due to size, it is also unsuitable for them because neck support is flimsy. We started using this when Baby Niece was 11 months old and at time of writing is still in use. In fact despite it looking very roomy when Baby Niece was 11 months old, a few months later she seems to be pushing it - if your child wears bulky coats or is wrapped in blankets it is often difficult to get the harness over and clasp together. The pads on the harness - one between the legs and one each shoulder - are meant to stop the harness cutting into your child, but really they just bulk up the seat even more, and twist easily making the harness more uncomfortable and harder to fasten.
The harness is adjustable, made of the same material as a seat belt. Even so, the harness bits, that come across the baby's body in a V, are very stiff even after months of use. The two parts come together and two metal 'teeth' slot into the bottom half of the harness that comes through the legs. There is a 'lip' on the bottom part to release the teeth to take the baby out. It is VERY important to make sure you push the two teeth into the bottom bit until you hear an audible click. It can be difficult when my niece is struggling or upset at being placed in the car, the engine is running and I'm bent uncomfortably to try and clasp the harness properly while my mother tap the steering wheel wondering why it is taking so long, but during a trip in the car my niece somehow managed to unclasp the harness and we had to pull over to refasten it. So take it from me: do it right the first time - wait for the click.
When undoing the harness it is something of a struggle, especially if my niece falls asleep during the journey and wakes up crying. She often kicks up a fuss and tries to push against the harness, which only makes it more difficult to take her out. The 'lip' on the bottom bit is sometimes very stiff and difficult to release. For 'yummy mummies' this is something to take into account, I think, as I have broken several nails trying to undo this in the past. I think the harness design could be improved by adding clasps in the middle of the over-arm parts, to make it easier to take a baby out, rather like on her highchair.
Speaking of sleeping - there are supposedly 5 recline positions this seat can change into, but we have only tried "upright" "slouching" and "very slouching". This is performed by pulling the seat's base forward. However the chair is just over 4 kilograms in weight, and that, combined with at least 9kgs of a child, means it is quite difficult to change the position - and it does wake my niece up when I try. If you are going on a long journey it is worth adjusting the seat position before you put your child in. Otherwise, falling asleep with the chair upright makes my niece's head loll forward alarmingly. You can also buy neck supports, some of which have cute patterns on.
Maybe those cute patterns would clash with the pretty generic design of the car seat, though. I appreciate that it is gender neutral, but the grey and black colours are too similar to many budget car seats. The padded 'flaps' (for lack of a better word) on the sides make the overall design look a bit flabby. However, these do add side-swipe protection - thankfully we have never had to test them out.
The material used, despite being padded, is also surprisingly rough to the touch - maybe not to the extent of sandpaper, but certainly similar in texture to sports bags or camera cases meant for outdoor use. However, as long as your child is fully clothed it shouldn't chafe them, as we have had no problems, but for the overcautious lying a blanket down if your child has bare legs and has particularly sensitive skin is the best way around it.
When in my mum's car, it doesn't look especially large. If you have multiple passengers it can be quite a squeeze though. Likewise, when transferring from car to car the seat is actually surprisingly bulky. It is 60cm, width 45cm and depth 57cm, and 4.3kg in weight. Once my sister in law was carrying it in after borrowing it, and it was almost half her size (2ft - at only 4ft tall, she is a petite lady).
As there is no bar on the top for ferrying it place to place, it can be difficult to move it around, and as such there is nowhere to hang any mobiles or toys to entertain your child during journeys. We always take some toys in the car with her, a toy snake and a doll, which seem to amuse her. The fabric itself is machine washable, but we have never had to clean it, when the baby eats and drinks in the car because of the tight weave of the fabric crumbs tend not to cake, and can be either wiped or brushed off. However, if there is some staining, according to the manufacturer it is fine to just chuck the fabric cover in the washing machine.
This car-seat was a cheap buy, and is tolerable for semi-frequent use. However, for something a buyer intends to use several times a day I think it is worth spending more money on a more comfortable and easy to use car-seat. I feel that the seat is safe, which is the most important aspect of a car-seat, but I do dread taking my niece in and out of it as it is so fiddly - even more so if your child is a wriggler or dislikes being constrained. Especially considering how uncomfortable it could be for a larger child, as well as the uninspired design, the cheap feeling material, the general unwieldiness in installing and transferring car-to-car and the difficulty fastening and unfastening the harness, means I am taking a fair few stars off the rating.
This product is currently available from Argos at £29.99.
Manufacturer's helpline number 0116 284 4910.
EDIT: In originally posted review, I mentioned that this transforms into a booster seat - that was a misunderstanding on my part! This model doesn't do that :)
Car seat features: Group 1. Suitable for children from 9 months to 4 years. Suitable for children from 9kg to 18kg. Fits front and rear seats although recommended for rear seat usage. Only use in front seat if there is no active air bag. For use with 3 point seat belts. Forward facing. 5 point harness. Individual harness tensioners. Harness sleeves, quick release buckle and buckle pad. Multi-recline - 5 recline positions. Body support cushions for younger children. Padded seat. Size H59.5, W45, D57cm. General information: Removable washable cover - machine washable. Manufacturer's helpline number 0116 284 4910. Weight 4.3kg. EAN/MPN/UPC/ISBN: 9072541.