At a little over 3 feet tall and just over 2 ½ stones in weight (imagine Thor in toddler form) my son was beginning to look a little uncomfortable in his old car seat. As with most children's products I refused to get sucked into the notion that expensive equals best, and that one or two less than favourable reviews mean its rubbish.
I stumbled across this car seat in Mothercare, not looking to buy at that point, but at £24.99 (half price) I thought I may as well grab one. Looking at other more budget car seats, I found were the same price, but knowing Graco was a good make I was more than happy about the purchase.
What's in the box:
In the box you'll find the Graco car seat unit (in a fetching black and scarlet colour) broken down into three parts. You also have two very chunky instruction booklets, which explain everything you need to know in many many languages.
The in-box instruction manual is fairly straightforward. There is a flow of diagrams showing you the process in simple pictures to help you.
The seat comes broken down into three parts. You have the base of the seat, the mid-part back rest and the head rest. The head rest simply slides into the top part of the back rest, and then both parts are mounted onto the base. To do this you simply line up the hook-style devises on the bottom of the back rest to the back of the base, and push forward to click them into place.
The car seat itself isn't physically connected to your car at all times (unlike ISOFIX and permanently belted in seats) so there's no real fitting process to undertake.
Comfort and safety:
I have a simplistic view on products like this, and that is if it's passed all the tests and ticked all the boxes, that's good enough for me. Of course I've not been in a car crash (I'm a man, we're amazing drivers) so I can't comment on how it copes in that instance**. I can however say that I trust Graco is a leader in this field, and trust that it has passed all the relevant safety tests.
The seatbelt passes through three main points on the seat, to safely secure the child. The angle in which the belt passes through the shoulder point means the belt will never ride up towards the child's neck. Both parts of the belt then pass through the lower point, securing the whole belt, before clipping into the car.
The seat itself is very lightweight, which means both the weight of the child and the pressure from the seatbelt keep it secure and able to move or shift around whilst driving.
As for comfort, it seems decent enough. Sometimes weights and heights and ages don't always match up, but you tend to know as a parent when your child's ready to safely make the transition to a booster seat.
The seat offers an adjustable head rest, arm rest and reclining back rest to get your little one as comfy as possible. I've found that, whilst awake, my little man is always sat at a good height and angle and always seems comfortable. If he nods off however, as the seat doesn't really recline, he gets a case of the old "floppy head".
There are two pull-out "cup holders" in the base of the seat, which prove handy for a little water/juice bottle and other bits they might need at hand. I find that ours mostly has toy cars wedged in them, but they are a good size for storing bits and pieces in.
Firstly, I think the price is fantastic, although it's a deal from Mothercare and not Graco directly. Saying that, at full RRP, I'd still happily pay it.
The lifespan of the car seat is a big plus, as it also serves as a simple booster seat down the line, so the overall value is very good indeed.
** It turns out that the above statement was false. Two days after originally penning this review I ALMOST crashed in my local town centre.
Having to perform an emergency stop at about 25mph, I can safely report that everyone was fine and the car seat not only kept my little man stable and secure, but he barely knew what happened!
The car seat remained in its position, with the child safely still as he was before.
While shopping for car seats for my three eldest children I was looking for something that was reasonable in price, but still would provide the safety they needed while travelling in the car. While searching Asda I came across these seats for just over £40 and after lots of comparison decided they would be the best option for us. I did decide to go into store rather than buying online as I wanted to see them first before parting with my money. Since purchasing I have found them available at mother care for just £25 which I think is a bargain.
While the seat is recommended for children aged three to twelve years of course car seats should actually be decided on by the height and weight of the child. This seat is a group 2-3 car seat and you should always make sure you have the suitable seat for your child's safety. This seat grows with your child in a number of ways. Firstly it has an adjustable head rest. This means as you child grows the seat can too to ensure they are both comfortable but also safe by providing strong support for their heads and necks. Secondly the back is removable so once they outgrow the backrest it is still usable and moves on to the next stage of car safety for your child. While the back rest should be used as long as possible to allow a little extra support for your child it is very easy to turn into a booster seat.
I found the car seat to be a great size. Not too large or bulky that it would make it difficult to fit into the car despite us being a large family with a number of car seats currently fitted. It cannot be used with a middle belt as it needs to use the full seat belt to secure it in place. They are light to move around, but we usually leave them in the car as we use them for day to day use. At the same time they were substantial enough to provide comfort for little one even on long journeys. As it can be converted into a booster seat there is some assembly required when you first purchase the seat. This is very simple to do and you just need to click the back rest into the booster seat and then the head rest into the back support. Each piece is very easy to click together and once in place is very durable. I was a little worried as it comes in pieces what it would be like once built, but to be honest without knowing I would not of even realised it was a three piece set.
What is essential for me is that you can remove the cover to wash it. No matter how careful my children are I find they get very messy quickly, and anything being used with a toddler needs to be machine washable in my opinion. This comes up great without any misshaping so it looks as good as new when you place it back on the seat. My only downside is the retractable cup holders. While it is a lovely idea to have somewhere to put little ones drink, I just find them impractical because of the positioning it encourages little one to sit forward to grab them. Then even when they are fully pushed in they attract every single crumb meaning they need cleaned out often.
To fasten little one in you use the main seat belt. It sits across their chest as it would with a normal seat belt, and the bottom half sits under the arm rest and across their lap so they are completely secure in their seat. I was a little worried that without a five piece harness my children would find it easy to escape, but after a few hiccups and explaining they need to remain in their seats the novelty has worn off and they are happy to leave it fastened. They did undo the belt a number of times at first resulting in us having to stop the car as once the belt is removed of course the seat comes loose and is no longer doing its job. There are markers to show you where to put the seat belt in case of any doubt but it is all really simple.
Now for safety. While we have never had a crash while using these seats I am confident that the support they provide would be enough to keep little one safe. Being able to adjust arms rests and head rest means that it can continue to provide a good support for little one, and they are strapped in safely if you follow the guidelines correctly. They seem to be comfortable enough. With a good amount of padding in the seat to make them soft to sit in I have never had any complaints from my children. Admittedly as they are a more value range car seat they are not as padded as some of the more expensive ones, but there is still more than enough cushion to keep them happy. They recently sat in them for a massive road trip from Scotland to Paris and never complained once. They fell asleep in the car and even then looked comfy enough with the structured back support.
I would highly recommend these car seats to anyone looking for a group 2-3 seat. I have to admit I was a little worried from moving from a harness style seat to one that uses the main seat belt, but it has been an easy transition. My four and five year old love their seats and we have found they have been comfy for them. They are happy to use them even for long periods, and they are available in a range of colours but we have the red and black version. The adjustable features mean it can grow with little one suiting each child individually rather than just relying on an age range recommendation. While it is a budget car seat it has still been fully approved for safety and we have found it to be more than reasonable for the price.
Don't children grow up fast these days? And it isn't just new shoes and outdoor coats that we have to keep buying for them.
I'm a very lucky grandfather, because I get to see a lot of my granddaughter. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to be hauled out of bed at some ungodly hour to take her to school, or drama, or dance or whatever! Swapping car seats from one car to another can be time-consuming and bothersome, so I've always had my own for her. That way, if I've ever had to pick her up in a hurry there's never been a problem - and it can be especially difficult if the car seat is in another car and the other car is somewhere else.
When she reached four years old it became obvious that Granddad would have to go shopping for a new car seat. The old one had been wonderful, but now she was taller, heavier and more active. I needed something that would be:
Easy to handle and care for
And I found all these things in the Graco Junior Maxi.
I thought so. The RRP is just short of £50, which I wouldn't have minded, but I soon found that I could get one for much cheaper. I paid about £30.00 and I've seen that Mothercare are currently doing one for £24.99. It seems to depend on the colour scheme of the cover. For instance, there's a Disney style. Personally I wasn't too bothered about having Mickey Mouse in the back of the car, especially as you couldn't see him when Evie was actually sitting in the thing (and nor could she), so I had no compunction about going for a cheaper version that was structurally exactly the same.
Easy to Handle and Care For?
Admittedly I was a little taken aback when I opened the box and found that it was in three pieces, but basically the back rest clips onto the base (which can be used as a booster seat for an older child) and the top part (the head rest) just slots into the main back rest and clicks into place. There's a handle on the top of the head rest that you push down to release, so that you can adjust the height very easily. There are two recline positions which can be achieved simply by pushing gently on the back rest. Obviously, the recline positions are only any good to you if the car seat reclines as well. You can also adjust the arm rests but you need a screwdriver for that to loosen and re-tighten a screw on either side. That's not a major DIY job or something that you would have to do often if at all.
When you carry the seat, you might feel that it feels a little flimsy, especially the back, but I've not had a problem with that - it hasn't come apart or anything - and there's no sense that it isn't firm and sturdy when it is in position in the car. Its lightness, in fact, is a great virtue, especially to someone with a dodgy back.
The top part of the car seat belt passes through a red plastic guide slot and then across the child's chest, while the bottom part passes underneath the arm rests and across the lap. Just make sure that the seat hasn't been sited on top of the seat belt socket so that you can't get at the thing when you reach over.
Each piece is individually covered and these covers come off to machine wash. Mine have endured all manner of crumbs and sticky substances but have come out fine each time.
There's a manual, of course and this is not only helpful in itself, there's also a little compartment under the seat where you can keep the manual for future reference.
Also under the seat are two pieces of foam to protect your own car covers/seats. You might want to take a view on whether some additional material underneath would be a good idea.
I'm glad to say that I've never had an accident, although I have had to stop sharply on a few occasions and it hasn't been a problem, and it has been manufactured for side impact protection. The seat has been approved to European Standard ECE R44.04 for Group 2 and 3 use. It is designed to take weights between 15 and 36 kg, so children roughly between 4 and 11 years.. Don't forget that it isn't just the weight of your child that you have to think about, but also the height. This type of seat should not be used with a lap belt, but only with a three point retractable. The guides, especially built into the head rest, help to make sure that the belt is properly aligned. Do make sure that you check it over from time to time and do adjust the seat as your child gets bigger. Although the back can be removed to leave a booster seat, it's probably as well to leave it in place for as long as possible to provide extra back support.
I have to take Evie's word for this, and I'm sure she'd soon tell me if she wasn't comfortable! There is a "Plus" version of this seat that does have more padding, especially on the arm rests, but we've been on some fairly long journeys without complaint. I think the key thing is that it is well designed to give support where it is needed, which is probably more important than lots of foam. And remember that you can adjust height, recline position and arm rests.
There are two retractable holders at the front corners to be used for drinks or food and that's a very handy feature. Mine also came with one or two extras like sunshades and an organiser that straps onto the back of the seat in front for comics or whatever. Might be worth looking out for that kind of deal (i got mine from Kiddicare).
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think this looks good. I don't want to keep taking it in and out of the car, so it travels around with me whether Evie is there or not (this also means I can't forget it when I'm rushing off to get her). Accordingly, I wanted something that didn't look too gaudy. It already has some red plastic as part of the safety features, so I went for a brown and grey cover, which not only suits me, but is something she can grow with as well. After all, she won't always be a Peppa Pig fan, will she?
At a Glance This Junior Maxi highback booster seat from Graco is suitable for children from 15kg (33lbs) up to 36kg (79lbs) and features 2 recline positions, adjustable armrests and cup holders. Features and benefits for Graco Junior Maxi Highback Booster Car Seat - Scarlett Height adjustable headrest Height adjustable armrests Backrest reclines in two positions Backrest is detachable to make a low booster if required 2 retractable cup holders Machine washable covers Free 2 year guarantee Mothercare loves...??that this seat can adapt to perfectly suit your child with an adjustable headrest and armrest.Want to know more?The Graco Junior Maxi High Back Booster car seat is suitable for children from approx 4 years (15kg) up to approx 11 years (36kg) and is installed using the car's seat belt. The intuitive belt routing indicates how to correctly fit the seat belt and the integrated seat belt guide in the headrest always ensures the seatbelt is correctly positioned depending on the height of your child. In addition, the side impact protection of this booster seat helps to keep them safe in the event of a side on collision.To ensure your child is comfortable, the head support is adjustable as they grow and the backrest can recline in 2 positions. Another feature of the Junior Maxi car seat is the height adjustable armrests, and the 2 retractable cup holders mean that a snack and a drink can be kept close to hand on the journey and folded away when not in use.If required, older children may have the backrest removed from the seat and use it as a low booster seat, although it is recommended for optimal safety that children use the seat with the back support in place for as long as possible. Don't forget...Mothercare stocks a great range of travel accessories for the car including seat belt pillows and seat protectors to avoid little footprints on the back of the front seats. Care Instructions: Machine Washable cover What's in the box: 1 x Graco Junior Maxi High Back Booster Car Seat