Saturday, 30 November 2013

Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl - An Introduction

As you may have gathered from some of the posts I’ve been doing recently, my most recent product test will be the new Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl carseat.

Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl 2014 Raspberry Red rear facing position

Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl 2014 Raspberry Red forward facing position

This brand new product is not yet available for sale. It will be officially launched in January 2014 and can be purchased from your local Maxi-Cosi retailer. However I have been fortunate enough to be selected by Maxi-Cosi since J meets the criteria exactly that they’re looking for to get feedback about this product.

Extended Rear Facing (ERF) is much safer than putting your child travelling forward facing too soon. Currently the European standard is ECE R44-04 which states that a child can go into a forward facing carseat at a minimum of 9kg. To accompany this information, there is an approximate age guideline of 9 months. However, the truth is that many children are not the minimum weight of 9kg when they reach 9 months old – J wasn’t 9kg til he was almost a year old – but many parents misunderstand the information provided and when they see the approximate age guideline they accept that as the age that their child must go into a Group 1 carseat, which most commonly is forward facing. The result is that many children go into a forward facing Group 1 carseat much sooner than necessary. 

Group 0+ carseats (infant carriers) are suitable til 13kg. J didn’t reach 13kg til he was 20 months old. Technically speaking I could have been transporting him in the CabrioFix or Pebble carseat til he reached 20 months old on the basis of his weight – however, due to his height, this wasn’t possible. As a very long baby / now tall child, the harness of his CabrioFix was over a half inch below his shoulders and his head was crowning over the top lip of the CabrioFix by the time he was 9 months old. It was for that reason I swapped him into an Opal carseat, to keep him rear facing for longer as the thought of him going into a forward facing carseat at that point was not an option as far as I was concerned, especially since he was not yet the minimum weight requirement for a Group 1.

When you look at a baby, toddler or pre-school child you will notice their head is rather large and out of proportion in comparison to the rest of them. Couple this with the fact that their neck / spine muscles are less developed than an adults, and in a forward facing carseat a rear impact could cause some serious injuries to a child that is too young. If an impact can give an adult whiplash, think how much damage that could do to a delicate child’s neck? In a rear facing carseat the child will be pushed into the safety of the seat during impact, the shock being absorbed by the seat across the width of their shoulders rather than concentrated on the neck.

Some people will say that their child is too tall to be comfortable rear facing. J was rear facing in his Opal til he was 19 months old and he had plenty of room. At 19 months old he reached the maximum height to be rear facing in the Opal – there is a guide on the side of the carseat to demonstrate when the child is too tall for rear facing and must go forward facing. At no point were his legs squashed, or did he show any signs of being uncomfortable. Far from not liking travelling backwards he always enjoyed it, and being able to play peek-a-boo with other drivers when we were travelling in the car was a favourite past time of his. Even if his legs had been a bit squashed I would far prefer an ankle or leg injury in comparison to a neck or spinal injury had we ever been involved in an accident.

Comfortable and snoozing, rear facing in the Opal carseat at 18 months old

Lots of people will say their child prefers to be forward facing. How does the child know, if they have only ever travelled rear facing, that they prefer forward facing? Why is the child dictating what to do when as the parent, it is your job to keep them as safe as possible? You wouldn’t let them run in the road because they wanted to, because you know it’s not safe – so as you know its safest to travel rear facing for as long as possible, why not? It’s safer for everyone to travel rear facing, adults included – the amount of whiplash injuries caused by RTC’s show that.

J was still rear facing in my car in the Opal long after he was forward facing in my parents cars in the Pearl. He used the Pebble on the FamilyFix base in their cars for longer than he was in the CabrioFix in mine simply for the fact that the recline option for the Pearl on the FamilyFix base provides a more upright sitting position for the Pebble or CabrioFix and allows more leg room. Once he reached 9kg he then started using the Pearl in their cars, but always as reclined as possible, so that in an impact the shock would travel up the length of the carseat rather than against him. Due to this he knew what it was like to be forward facing and rear facing, and I never had any issues getting him to travel rear facing in my car. It was also far easier to get him in a rear facing seat as you place them into the seat from a comfortable position outside the car – in a forward facing seat it’s much more awkward to get them into the seat properly (with the exception of the Axiss, which turns to face you).

Under new standards, which were introduced in June 2013, a child travelling in an iSize approved carseat must remain rear facing til 15 months old. At the time of writing this, the current ECE R44-04 standard is running alongside the iSize standard for some time to come, and at this moment the only carseat which is approved to iSize standard is the Maxi-Cosi 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl.

Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, it’s only suitable for use in cars that can offer IsoFix points. Bearing in mind it’s the first of its kind, you know the price will come down once more of these seats are available and it becomes more commonplace for iSize seats to be used. Currently the iSize standard only covers IsoFix fitted units, so a seatbelt fitted base or carseat cannot meet iSize standard. To read up about the iSize standard, click here and for any enquiries to the Maxi-Cosi team click here.

We have had a delay in being able to start testing the product as the vehicles we will be testing in are my parents – a 2012 Vauxhall Insignia and a 2012 Vauxhall Corsa. Since we live a long distance from my parents it isn’t a possibility of popping into see them very frequently and as mum has not been well J hasn’t spent as much time with her recently as he would normally. This was an unforeseen circumstance that we couldn’t have predicted. She regularly looks after him one day a week usually, so he would be with her and travelling in her car and my dads car much more often. We have had a physical fitting by trained staff in both vehicles of the 2wayFix base and 2wayPearl and it is a successful fitting with no loss of space to the front seat passenger in either vehicle. I was concerned that in the Corsa we would find that the front seat passenger had to be moved quite far forward but it was not necessary to move the at all – it takes up the same amount of space in the vehicle as the FamilyFix base and Pearl.

Vauxhall Insignia

Vauxhall Corsa

With the 2wayPearl you must keep the child rear facing til 15 months then you have the option of leaving them rear facing or going forward facing for the remaining use of the unit, which is when the child reaches 105cm (approx. 4yrs) I will be testing the 2wayPearl in rear facing and forward facing positions in the Insignia and the Corsa with J as he is 3.5yrs old and 100cm (15.5kg) I am interested to see whether he seems to have any preferences or seems more or less comfortable rear facing than he does forward facing etc.

I am very much looking forward to this product test and I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences here. Please remember that all opinions provided are my own and I am not receiving a fee from Maxi-Cosi to promote their product. I am a big fan of Maxi-Cosi products and a big fan of ERF and this combination is very exciting for me!

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