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- Extended Rearfacing Car Seats
When my son was 8 months old we started to research Group 1 car seats and came across information on the benefits of extended rearfacing car seats.
Although these are rare in the UK, in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries children must remain rearfacing in the car until they have reached the age of 4 and weigh at least 25kgs. This law is in place as research as shown that children are up to 5 times safer rearfacing if they are involved in an accident.
All the information about extended rearfacing can be found at www.rearfacing.co.uk, along with details of the car seats available and the location of stockists throughout the UK.
- Why did I choose the BeSafe Izi?
The main reason that I chose the BeSafe Izi car seat was because it's fitted using Isofix. As with all car seats, it's imperative that the seat is fitted correctly in order to be safe and the Isofix installation offers great peace of mind as it is very easy to see quickly that the seat has been correctly attached.
Although you can buy extended rearfacing seats on the Internet, it was important for me to get it from a shop where they could check that the seat fits correctly in the car and show me how to install it properly.
My nearest stockist was a shop in Croydon, and at the time I purchased the seat they only stocked the BeSafe Izi or a Britax seat that didn't have the Isofix fittings.
- What I love about the BeSafe Izi
The straps are easy to adjust to be at the correct height for my rapidly growing toddler. With some car seats you have to "thread" the straps through holes in order to change the height of the shoulder straps which I think is quite a palaver. However, this straps on this seat can be adjusted by using a sliding mechanism behind the headrest. This makes it incredibly easy to adjust the height, even with the child in the seat.
The straps have magnets in them which attach to the sides of the seat making it very easy to ensure that the straps aren't in the way when putting your child in and getting them out of the seat.
After putting your child in the seat, the straps are very easily adjusted to the correct length by pulling on the strap at the front of the seat. Likewise, it's very easy to lengthen the straps to get them out again.
The seat sits quite high in the car, which I think is great as my son can easily see out of both the side and rear windows. When we made the decision to go for an extended rearfacing seat a lot of friends and family were sceptical saying things like "he won't be able to see anything" and "won't he get bored facing backwards?". I'm pleased to report that he can see plenty and is very happy in the car seat. If anything, I think that he can see more as he's got 2 windows that he can look out of!
Another question that people frequently seem to have is "what happens to their legs if they face backwards?". The BeSafe Izi has a gap in between the seat and the back of the car seat, and so as your child grows there is room for their legs in this gap.
- What I would change about the BeSafe Izi
The seat is heavy and bulky. If you need to move it between cars then it might not be for you. Since having it, I've only removed it from the car once and it was quite difficult to get it in and out through the door.
The other downside of the size of the seat is that it restricts the amount of legroom available in the front of the car. We drive a 2008 Golf and having this car seat means that the front passenger seat is as far forward as it can comfortably go. Neither myself or my husband are very tall so it's fine for us, but is definitely something to consider before you purchase it, and is another reason that I would recommend visiting a shop to try it out in your car.
These are the only 2 drawbacks that I've found with the seat. It is quite an expensive car seat, we paid £299. However, I think that as it should last around 3 years, and the safety benefits of it being rearfacing mean that I think it offers good value for money.
- Would I recommend it?
I am very pleased with the car seat. As I said previously, the Isofix fittings give me peace of mind that it's fitted correctly and my son seems to enjoy travelling in it.
When my daughter grew out of her infant car seat we did a great deal of research into its replacement. Buying this car seat came out of that, and what I discovered on the way horrified me to some extent.
Having discovered http://www.rearfacing.co.uk/ I was keen to find a rear facing car seat for my then nearly one year old and found it almost impossible. We live in Scotland and we had to travel to York, where we had a choice of a small handful of seats. Of course the infant seat was far too small by this time (we use mainly public transport - don't worry, we weren't still using it!) so my daughter and I ended up travelling by train while my husband drove down on his own and met us there. Expensive and more stressful than it needed to be, if manufacturers would get their acts together!
Why rear facing?
In most other countries, European and most states in the US, forward facing a child at 8 or 9 months, as the minimum recommendation is here at present, is illegal and considered to be child endangerment, neglect or the local equivalent. Children in Europe are, in many countries, rear facing until around 4 years old. This sees harsh and a little extreme to the UK mind as we're used to this state of affairs, but studies consistently show that rear facing is safer, much safer.
" Excessive stretching or even transection of the spinal cord can result if a child is involved in a head-on crash while in a forward facing car seat
Rear facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children under 4 years old
Parents and guardians should be advised to keep young children in rear facing seats for as long as possible"
or http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/338/jun11_2/b1994 for the full report)
There's a great deal more I could say on this but the research says it so much better! I very much hope that consumer pressure can encourage British and other manufacturers to sell more rearfacing car seats here in the UK and it becomes much more of a norm than it is at present. After all only a generation or two ago we didn't realise the dangers of not travelling with children in carseats so perhaps this is the next extension as we learn about car safety as a culture.
The BeSafe iZi
The Besafe Izi is suitable from around 6 months to 4 years, but cannot be used before the child can sit unsupported. The seat is probably only available in one colour in each shop in the UK. Luckily for us we had the choice of Black or Black, which suited us fine. The covers can be removed and washed (at 40 degrees) but who wants to need to do so after every little spill!
At £310.00 it's a little more expensive than some forward facing car seats and comparable with others. We feel it's well worth the price but it might be less expensive if it were more widely available.
It has 4 reclined positions. Realistically we use two - the most upright for playing/general use and the most reclined for sleeping.
I believe it can be purchased without, but the seat we have has an Isofix system , which is the safest method of installing any car seat on the market at the moment. The Izi should initially be fitted by someone who's been trained. The people in the shop in York were fantastic - checking our car would take the seat and fitting it for us. It clicks in a satisfactory manner and shows green in place of previous red indicators in the frame to show that it's all in safely.
The straps are comfortable and have handy magnets in for getting them and keeping them out of the way for getting the child in and out safely. There's a handy button to press to lengthen them, and to tighten you simply pull on the long bit at the bottom. I find it very easy to obtain the correct tightness of strap.
There are protective cushions to protect the child's head and neck in case of accident (These are also handy at nap time).
This car seat is bulkier than many forward facing seats. It effectively means that our passenger seat, in a small car, is now unusable by any but those with the shortest legs. It can also be used forward facing, which takes less room and might prove handy should a child prove horribly travel sick when they're a bit older but haven't grown out of the seat yet.
The best recommendation is how much the wee one loves it. Our child hated the car! She and I don't use it a great deal during the week, but in the new seat she can see out of the window better, see us in the mirror, and she seems so much more comfortable that she now loves doing action songs, 'singing' and playing in the car! she'll even nap in it!
I hope this is useful if you're looking at possible rearfacing car seats.
For more information see;