Giselle: Car seat & stroller for newborn in an older car without ISOfix
Preparing for bub’s arrival can be quite stressful—you’ve got to prepare everything from clothes to strollers and car seats that fit your lifestyle. Giselle, like almost every new parent, has begun her baby gear but is met with a bottleneck; she’s got a hard time figuring out which seat is compatible with the cars she and her husband own. Read to find out what Elise recommends!
Giselle has just started her research journey and is still unaware of the category of the car seat she wants for her baby. She’s looking for a car seat that will keep bub safe from birth and beyond. The car seat should also fit in Giselle’s Subaru Impreza car (has top tether anchor) and her husband’s BMW 335i Coupe (has both top tether anchor and ISOfix).
Hi Giselle! A lot of times when we do consultations like this, parents already know the category of car seat that they want but, I noticed that you haven’t decided on your preferred category of car seat yet since you’re quite early in the research journey. That’s totally normal! I don’t think that this consult will necessarily help you pinpoint the exact solution that you want—I might, but I suspect otherwise—but I reckon this will help you narrow your research down. Once you’ve more clarity around the kind of car seat that you want, I’m happy to have another chat with you where I can go into more details into some of the models I’ll be recommending and identify which one’s the ticket for you. For now, I’m just going to give a few models to look at for now but I’m not necessarily going to go into details about the pros and cons of the different models in each category. I’m just planting some seeds and you can see which ones grow, then we can talk more about it.
So you’d like a budget-friendly car seat that can fit into both cars and something that will help with your husband’s fear of dropping the baby (totally normal fear). I’m sorry to say that there’s no one standout solution but I’ve got three options for you: 1) one infant car seat + two bases, 2) two different car seats and 3) a convertible car seat.
Option #1: Mountain Buggy Protect + two bases for each car
Your first option is to use an infant car seat. I know that you’d like something that’s a little longer lasting but the rationale behind my recommendation is that it’s pretty much the only one on the market now that can be used with both ISOfix and the vehicle’s seatbelt. This brings us to one of the biggest problems you’re going to be facing because your Subaru Impreza doesn’t have ISOfix anchorages: most of the European car seat manufacturers only make ISOfix car seats and not car seats for seat belts anymore. There’s nothing wrong with seatbelt car seats but they’re actually not in production anymore and it can make it really difficult for you to get one through safe and authorized channels. The car seat I’m going to recommend is the Mountain Buggy Protect infant car seat (image below). Mountain Buggy is a Kiwi brand and they’re still manufacturing car seats for seat belts (excellent news for us!). The Protect capsule is compatible with the City Select pram that you’ve got—with a Baby Jogger adapter (~$37, great value) you can click the capsule on your pram and there you have it, a travel system. It will keep bub rear-facing until 13kg, which is somewhere in your child’s second year of life and then you’re going to be moving off to the next car seat.
The Protect is on par with the Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix, which costs $300+, and the Mountain Buggy Protect only costs $183. It’s incredible value! I suggest that you get a car seat, buy the Mountain Buggy universal base ($153) for your car and the Mountain Buggy ISOfix base (also $153) for your husband’s car. The universal base installs with a seatbelt and the car seat goes on top of it, while the ISOfix base attaches to the ISOfix anchorages in the vehicle. Both bases feature a load leg, which is a fantastic safety feature. You’ll notice that there’s no rebound bar for the ISOfix base because it uses rigid ISOfix, so there’s some anti-rebound property. Whereas the universal base has a rebound bar, which is also an awesome safety feature. If we’re looking at the likes of Maxi-Cosi, Cybex, Britax, BeSafe, they’re all awesome car seats and I’d really love to recommend them but none of them have a seatbelt base anymore and so, I reckon that the Protect and the two bases can be a great option for you.
Option #2: Two different car seats
Alright, option #2 is kind of like a no holds barred kind of scenario—I’ll recommend two different car seats, a rotating car seat for your husband’s car and an extended rear-facing car seat for yours. Now, both of these options are good options even after you do option #1 if you want to. It’s a shame that your baby will be in your car more often that your husband’s, because the rotating car seats you can get for your husband’s Coupe are awesome! I’m recommending swivel car seats for him because he can spin it to face whichever angle he needs to put the baby in—that’s probably not going to be from the side for the Coupe but diagonally from the front and he can put the baby in and rotate the seat back. There are three models that I’m going to suggest for your husband’s car and they’re: 1) Mountain Buggy Safe Rotate, 2) Joie i-Spin and the 3) Maxi-Cosi Mica.
Personally, I like the Mountain Buggy Safe Rotate (ref: image above) because it’s got a really nice balance of value and features. It locks in by itself (which is a really great feature) unlike other the Joie i-Spin, which you’ll need to manually lock it. The Safe Rotate has got a pretty high price tag ($686) because you’re paying a lot for the feature and other luxury features. The Joie i-Spin costs about the same as well. It’s pretty self-explanatory—you can put your baby in any angle you like and it’s got additional Side Impact Protection for optimal peace of mind. If bells and whistles are your thing, the Maxi-Cosi MICA’s the one for you. All of these seats will keep your child rear-facing until 18kg.
Now that we’ve looked at the options for the Coupe, let’s look at the car seats for your Subaru Impreza. In terms of long-lasting, more luxurious car seats, I’ll recommend either the 1) Axkid Minikid or the 2) Diono Radian. In my opinion, I like the Minikid for your car. It’s a Swedish car seat which goes rear-facing longer than any other category of car seat; it stays rear-facing until 25kg, which is approximately 8 to 10 years old. To be honest, putting newborns in car seat can be awkward. Period. However, using the Minikid can be slightly more awkward during the first 3 or 4 months compared to an infant car seat. Don’t worry, the Minikid is rated from birth—I was just talking from a functional perspective and not from a safety perspective. The Minikid comes with an infant insert to provide some core stability around the baby’s torso and it features an auto adjust harness and headrest system where the headrest and shoulder straps go up to the top when you undo the harness! Then, as you tighten the tail strap, the whole headrest and harness comes back down and stops at exactly the right height. With this feature, buckling and unbuckling your baby into the car seat will be an easy feat. As far as safety goes, the Minikid is in the very top category worldwide—the Swiss has the safest car seat in the whole world because they stay rear-facing for very long. In fact, it stays rear-facing forever and doesn’t have forward-facing functionality, and thus warrants the best marks from a safety perspective.
You can also consider the Diono Radian, which is an American-certified car seat. They’ve got a 2020 model (twice the price) but I’m not as big a fan of it to be honest. The only reason why I don’t love it is that there’s just too much going on; it’s too fussy for me, aesthetically. But I supposed I shouldn’t let my aesthetics influence which car seat you choose. So that aside, this is a good long-lasting car seat that keeps your child rear-facing until 50 pounds (~22.7kg). Personally, I’d not rear-face an American car seat pass 18kg, but it does convert into a forward-facing car seat and a high-back booster after that. It’s got a similar lifespan to the Minikid, just that you’d turn it forward-facing.
Option #3: Budget-friendly convertible car seat
Your third option is a budget-friendly option, which is somewhat easy to install in both your husband’s car and yours. He could always buckle the baby into the car seat and then put the entire baby and car seat bundle into the car. In this category of car seat, you can either go for the 1) Cosco Scenera NEXT or the 2) Joie Tilt.
Alright, here’s what the Cosco Scenera NEXT looks like. It’s great for fitting three car seats across the back seat of the vehicle so you won’t have to worry about your growing family in the future. All three of my kids have used the Cosco, albeit at varying stages. My second son, Jack, was in the Cosco from birth (ref image below). You’d notice that the Cosco doesn’t have its own infant insert and so if you do require additional stability, you can roll up a muslin blanket like a sausage and pop it alongside your baby. Do note that you’d only do that after baby’s all buckled in. Also, please do not position the blanket around your baby’s head; it can go beside but not under the head as this may push the baby’s chin down and block their airway.
The other option I’d recommend is the Joie Tilt. It’s pretty much a European version of the Cosco—totally different and competing manufacturers—but quite similar in terms of what the seats offer and they keep your baby rear-facing until 18kg. They’re both comparable car seats, for me at least. Otherwise, the Tilt has got an infant insert and installs in a different way from the Cosco.
There you go, here’s my brain dump for you and let me know which category or which of those three options you’re leaning towards and we’ll talk more about them in more detail. See ya!