It’s a phenomenon that most parents of small children will be familiar with.
The ‘angry eyebrows’ come out. The mouth is set in a firm line. And the child who was previously fairly pliable, with working joints and a bend in the middle, suddenly turns into a remarkably solid and immovable board.
Potentially useful if you are playing ‘construction sites’.
Not so great if you really, really need to get going somewhere in the pushchair or the car.
And car seats in particular don’t generally help with the problem. Being aimed either forwards or backwards inside the car, manouvring a ‘plank’ into the correct, ‘safely secured with a harness and comfortable enough to travel for anything between a few minutes to a couple of hours’ position can be a bit of a nightmare. Because of course, there are things like a roof, and other passenger seats, and doors in the way.
Add in a bump, or a back problem, or other children who think it’s hilarious to antagonise ‘the plank’ by poking it repeatedly and gibbering with a crazy grin on their face and you can see why it’s a phenomenon that can cause pulling out of hair, stressed under-breath muttering or simply sitting down and wailing on the pavement.
Anyway. BRITAX haven’t come up with a method of eradicating ‘the plank’.
But what they HAVE done is develop a car seat that makes it a whole lot easier to deal with.
Plus, even if you are having a happy ‘no plank’ day, it has a whole host of features that mean it’s a very, very pleasant car seat for both children and adults alike.
And it’s called ‘the Dualfix’.
First of all, from the adult perspective, it has the option of providing ‘extended rear facing’ (ERF) travel. That means that, as a group 0+ &1 seat, it’s suitable from birth up until age four, and if you desire, you child can stay facing rearward up to age four too. ERF has been shown to have great safety benefits in the event of a collision, so if you are looking for a seat that is as safe as can be for a 0-4 year old then this is definitely an excellent contender.
Equally, once the relevant milestones have been reached (attaining the weight of 9kg), with the click of a couple of buttons the seat can easily swivel to face forward.
No annoying removal of seat, repositioning of seat, refinding of connectors-ness.
In fact, even when it’s first installed it’s pretty straighforward. I set to inserting into the car myself, along with my rather large bump and an inability to carry anything particularly on the heavy side (the seat weighs 14.7kg) and following a brief struggle to figure out how to keep the isofix connectors extended long enough to actually get them to meet the isofix points, the seat was in and correctly positioned. Something that I knew because of the handy green indicator bits which show that all the clicky bits are clicked in the way they should be!
And finally, as an adult, should you experience ‘the plank’ then the Dualfix has one other very useful benefit – it can be swivelled to the halfway point for easy ‘plonk them in and belt them up’ accessibility, with not a head bashed on the roof or a back dangerously close to breaking in sight! And the straps of the one-pull adjust, five point harness are fairly wiggle proof too – we have had a bit of a houdini moment with other car seats once or twice with Bubby D but she has yet to be able to escape from this one which I’m very happy about.
As children go, the swivelling is a great feature that they enjoy as well. Bubby D loves being able to climb into the seat herself (when she’s not a plank she’s still very firmly in the ‘I DO IT’ camp the vast majority of the time) and then choosing her direction of travel. 99% of the time it’s rearfacing. Which is good because otherwise I would be subtly attempting to influence ‘the choosing’ as I prefer her to be in the safest position, obviously.
She also loves how comfortable it is – demonstrated frequently by how easily she falls asleep in it – as well as the fact that she loudly proclaims ‘I LOVE MY SEAT’!
The straps are very easy to adjust and have nice padded shoulder bits, as well as not getting completely squashed underneath her when she climbs in and then taking ages to dig out and get aligned.
The footprint of the seat is very reasonable, and smaller than other ERF seats we have used in the past. Positioned rearfacing behind the drivers seat, the Other Half is still able to put his seat far back enough to be able to drive comfortably even with his enormously long legs.
It’s easy to recline even with a two year old in situ, and easy to swivel into place too. The height adjustable headrest means that Bubby D is always comfortable with no fiddly strap adjustment required, and because there’s a newborn insert provided she can even let her little brother or sister have a go in it really easily when they make their entrance into the world in a few weeks time!
Did I mention it’s got an easy clean, washable cover? It can be removed without needing to also remove the harness and it cleans up really well. I know this due to an unfortunate plank-placating milkshake incident. Old yucky milk really isn’s something I enjoy smelling for weeks in the car so being able to thoroughly remove all trace of it is something that I value in a car seat!
Minus points – there really aren’t many but one that comes to mind is that it’s an isofix only seat. Not a problem if like us you have isofix! But it did cause a problem when my mum offered to look after Bubby D for the day and I realised that the seat wouldn’t go in her 2001 Toyota Celica. I also think that for a child who is larger for their age (Bubby D is still quite small) the ERF option probably wouldn’t work all the way up to four – but then of course you’ve got the ability to move to forward facing travel anyway so it’s not a massive issue.
So, in short, if you have a plank, then get a Dualfix.
And if you don’t have a plank, then consider getting one anyway. With it’s versatility, safety features, comfort and ease of use it’s definitely worth the £340 price tag – which might seem like a lot in comparison to some other car seats but when you consider you get four years use out of it (potentially more if you’ve got other children waiting in the wings) and a greater chance of keeping you car travel sanity intact, then that’s a price worth paying.
Disclosure: I am a BRITAX Mumbassador and was sent this seat for the purpose of review however all words are my own honest opinion.