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- Why We Bought -
When it comes to car seats safety is by far the most important factor in my opinion. It is one of the few items I would buy where I would say price is pretty much irrelevant to me as I would pay over the odds as long as it will keep my child safe. Car seats range a lot in price but does paying more guarantee safety? You can pick one up in a supermarket for as little as £25 or you could pay up to £300 for a car seat and base that supposedly increases the safety. With so many car seats available how do you know which one is going to best protect your child in the event of an accident?
For me the answer is on the Which.co.uk website. On this site you can look at the safety rating of hundreds of car seats as well as looking at general ease of use, comfort and size as reviewed by experts and parents. There is a Best Buys table which lists the 30 or so top rated car seats currently available. My son's 0+ car seat, the Cybex Aton, appeared on the Best Buys list so when my son was one and the time came to move onto a stage 1 car seat I knew we would be buying another from the list.
Browsing the list I was able to discount many of the top rated car seats as they were stage 0+. One of the top rated stage 1 car seats was the Kiddy Guardian Pro 2. It is currently in 15th place on the table over all. It is a stage 1-2-3 car seat which means that it adjusts so that it is suitable from around nine months up until the child is about 12. It is currently in 5th place for stage 1 car seats, 1st place for stage 2 and 1st place for stage 3. It is one of only four stage 1-2-3 car seats on the Best Buys list and it receives the highest rating of the four (one of the other four is a very similar Kiddy Guardian seat). This seemed to be a glowing recommendation so we purchased the Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 from Amazon for around £200.
- Who Can Use the Car Seat? -
As I have said the car seat is a stage 1-2-3 seat. It is forward facing like most car seats beyond the 0+ stage. The seat adjusts for each stage. Stage one is suitable for children who weigh 20-40lbs (9-18kgs). This is approximately a nine month old up to a four year old. Once the child has outgrown this stage you adjust the seat and they move on to stage 2. This stage is suitable for children who weigh 33-55lbs (15-25kgs) which is approximately four to six years old. Then stage 3 is for children who weigh 48-79lbs (22-36kgs), six to twelve years. In the UK a child can stop using a car seat at 12 years old or once they are 4ft 5in (135cm) in height. So this seat would see a child through from approximately nine months up until 12 years with no other seat needing to be purchased other than the seat they would use from birth to around nine months. This could potentially save parents money.
For stage 1 there is a safety shield across the child which is removed for the later stages. As the child grows there are a couple of small adjustments that can be made to ensure a suitable fit. My son first started using this seat when he was one year old and he is now two and a half. There is a padded cushion on the seat which is doubled over for a smaller child which we have now unfolded as he is bigger. We have also made the seat taller as he has grown in height. This takes seconds to adjust but it is important to check the head protector part is in the correct place in relation to the child's head and shoulders. This information is clearly explained in the manual. So far we have found all the adjustments are easy to make.
- Putting the Seat into the Car -
This could not be easier. As the car seat uses the adult seat belt all you need to do is place the car seat onto the seat. It can be used in the front or rear of the car. However, it is safer to put it in the rear, especially if there is an airbag for the front passenger seat.
- Putting the Child into the Seat -
Most stage 1 car seats use the adult seat belt to attach the car seat (or isofix base) to the car but then have an integral harness to attach the child into the seat. However, the Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 is different. The child sits on the car seat and a separate piece known as the safety shield or impact bar is slotted onto the car seat and across the child. The regular three point seat belt is then pulled over the bar and slotted into it before being fastened. It is very simple and you can't go wrong which increases the seat's safety. However, trying to do this when your toddler is having a tantrum and pushing the bar away from them is very difficult! Having said that I would imagine trying to strap a stroppy child into a car seat with an integral harness is equally challenging. The safety shield provides good crash protection according to the experts so it is part of what makes this seat one of the safest around. None the less it is frustrating at times. Once the child is secured it is worth checking that the belt is tight enough with limited room to manoeuvre.
As I have already mentioned the safety shield is removed for stages 2 and 3. The child is then secured in place by bringing the regular seat belt over the child and seat before fastening. We haven't got to this stage yet but it looks like it would be very easy to do. Hopefully by the time the child is four years old and the bar is removed they will have grown out of the tantrum stage and they will be compliant when you fasten them in!
- On the Road -
Once the child is secured in the seat there should be no problems. Unless of course you didn't follow the instruction above about fastening the belt tightly to limit the room to manoeuvre! We learnt this the hard way after a mid journey tantrum. Our son thrashed about so much in his seat that he was able to slip down until his chin was resting on the safety shield! Needless to say we now secure it tightly and he hasn't managed it since. Potentially being able to slip down is a hazard and wouldn't be possible with the integral harness that goes between the legs on other car seats, but it is avoidable as long as you are careful.
My son seems to find the seat comfortable and is happy to sit in it (most the time anyway!) and although he isn't much of a car sleeper he has fallen asleep in the seat occasionally. The safety shield provides a comfortable rest in this instance. The seat can be reclined but this needs to be done before you sit the child in it. It is easy to do but personally I haven't found much use for it.
A simple yet brilliant feature of the car seat is a thin strip of material that is attached across the top of the safety shield by poppers. The purpose of this is to attach toys onto it to entertain the child. My son loves this but even when we have forgotten to bring toys he loves to unpopper the strip.
There are four main reasons that this seat is highly rated with regards to safety. First is the safety shield used for stage 1. It protects the child if they are forced forward in a crash. Second; the seat of the car seat has horn shapes which are designed to protect the pelvis. Third and fourth are the side wings and head protection which both keep the child in place and protect the upper body and head in the event of a side collision. These aspects have been well tested in crash tests. Thankfully our seat hasn't been put through a real life crash so I have to trust that it will do what it is meant to do to protect my child if this does ever happen.
It is worth mentioning that you should always strap the empty car seat into the car if you leave it in the car when driving without the child. This is because if you were in an accident a loose car seat could cause you a lot of damage if it was thrown around the car at speed.
- Size -
One negative of this car seat is the size. It is rather bulky and while this is probably essential for the safety of the child it could make it difficult if you want to fit three children across the back seats of your car and two or more of the children have this or another car seat. You might end up needing a bigger car!
- The Look -
The car seat is available in several colours. The original seat we purchased is black and red which looks very smart. We have recently bought a second one to keep in my husband's car. This one is black and also looks smart.
- Cleaning -
The seat cover is not removable but we have wiped it clean and used the Hoover to remove crumbs. This has been sufficient so far after around 20 months of use.
- Price and Availability -
We bought our first Kiddy Guardian Pro 2 from Amazon for approximately £200 and our second from Kiddicare.com for £179. While this is towards the higher end of the scale for a car seat it is by no means the most expensive. I think this is actually a very reasonable price to pay considering the good crash protection it provides and how long it can be used for.
- Would I Recommend? -
I would definitely recommend this car seat. While there are a few niggles with regards to the size of the seat, trying to secure a toddler mid tantrum and the potential risk of the child slipping in the seat, my overall experience of using this car seat is very positive. It is simple to use, comfortable and even entertaining for my son, it looks smart, is easy to clean, is suitable for a child to use for 11 years and is reasonably priced. Most importantly it is well reviewed with regards to safety in the event of a crash. I liked it enough to purchase a second one which we will use for our daughter when she is big enough.
I have very recently purchased this car seat for my 16mth old. I needed a car seat that would fit in any car, (my Britax is iso fix only) I brought my Kiddy Pro Plus 2 from Peppermint in Kingston for £210. It may seem expensive but it's suitable from 9mths all the way to 12 years. I wanted this car seat as it came out top for safety, which is the most important attribute. The unique shock absorber (which secures your baby into the seat along with a seat belt) is very easy to use. It is this shock absorber which makes the seat so safe along with the extensive side protection. My daughter is very, very comfortable in this seat. The fact she's fallen asleep every time is testament to how comfortable it is. It's very easy to recline the seat (although this must be done before you install it) There's also a foot rest which can be extended. The seat is very padded. When my daughter isn't asleep she likes the fact she can rest her arms on the shock absorber. This is a fantastic buy. I would advise every parent to consider this seat-it's got top marks for safety, comfortable, lightweight, very easy to install, can be installed in any car with a seatbelt, great value as it lasts all the way up to 12 years of age. Word of advise though-Try before you buy! Just in case your child doesn't like the shock absorber.
"Our child safety seats grow as does your child! The Kiddy guardian pro 2 accompanies your child from the age of 9 months to 12 years. We have now enhanced the fancy all-rounder for the entire childhood with regard to the essential safety and comfort features. The Original Kiddy Impact Shield allows for "rolling over" of the upper part of the body in case of a front-end collision or severe braking manoeuvres. Thus the very delicate cervical area in children is strained less than with conventional seatbelt systems. Due to the new design of the side protection components our high-performance material Honey Comb V2 is even more effective. Head and shoulder area are protected best possible in case of a side collision. At the same time the good side view through the window is maintained for your child From age group 2 upwards children are secured in the child safety seat with the 3-point seat belt. This system, however, has been designed for adults. Our unique safety component, the Kiddy Shock Absorber (KSA), absorbs the braking energy acting on the 3-point seat belt and thus protects your child from high impacts. For the second generation we have improved the absorbing material for better energy absorption and integrated the KSA into the textile cover. The most comfortable position in every situation! It only takes a few seconds to put the seat into the snooze position and the comfortable headrest can easily be adjusted, too. The broad seating area allows for quiet and comfortable sleep. While you're concentrating on traffic, your child relaxes and is optimally protected at the same time. This child seat has the homologation for use in aircraft."