Driving round the M25 on Friday evening, I heard a little voice pipe up.
‘Bubby D has taken her arms out’ stated the Wee Man, with a mixture of tattletale’s pleasure and worried alarm.
Looking in my rearview mirrow at the childviewing mirror on the backseat, I could see a delighted Bubby D waving her arms around gaily, clearly hugely excited at having freed herself from the confines of her car seat.
Using my best menacing mummy voice, I ordered her to sit back down RIGHT NOW and made plans to pull off the motorway at the next junction to make sure she was strapped back in tightly…
…which is what I would have done, except for the fact that less than a minute later I felt a little hand on my arm, and a grinning Bubby D stuck her head next to the gear stick. She’d managed to free not only her arms but her legs as well, and was intent on coming to sit on my lap.
So I had no option but to pull up on to the hard shoulder with GIANT lorries whizzing past me in the dark, wait for an opening in the traffic and then whizz Bubby D out of the front and back into her seat. Which she was not impressed about at all.
And this is why I have decided that it’s time for her to move up into a group 1 car seat. To be fair, most children are out of their Maxi Cosi Pebble at a lot younger than 18 months – but because she is small for her age she still has at least another inch to go before she reaches the top of the seat and were it not for the fact that she is now able to outsmart the three point harness, I’d keep her in it for longer – the Pebble is a lovely comfortable seat, and I especially love the bit around the buckle that means that it’s easy to access every time we strap her in, the fact that it fits on our pushchair frame, and the ability for it to click simply in and out of the isofix base with a reassuring beep every time I want to move her out of the car and back again (and Bubby D likes the retractable sunhood, which she can use to play peepo). Although she was only able to free her legs because the straps hadn’t been tightened enough, she can still free her arms regularly even with the straps as tight as they can be – and that’s just not safe enough any more.
Luckily for me, the Wee Man is also about to move up into the next stage car seat (group 2/3) which means that Bubby D can take advantage of his BeSafe iZi Combi X3 isofix seat – that’s a mouthful of a name but then it’s a big sturdy seat too!
Unlike most group 1 car seats (actually, it’s not strictly group 1 as its suitable from birth, so it’s classed as 0+ even though we didn’t use it from birth for the Wee Man) the Combi X3 is rearfacing up until age 4 – and forward facing too, if you want to use a seatbelt rather than the isofix, in a car that doesn’t have the isofix fittings. In reality, we’ve only ever used it forward facing once – in a relative’s car that didn’t have isofix – as travelling in a rearfacing seat is five times safer than forward facing. The seat has a metal brace which leaves a space between the back seat and the car seat for your little one’s legs to go, and a five point harness (with little magnets to hold the straps out of your child’s way whilst they’re climbing in – I only realised they existed after we’d had it about a year and it was like it was my birthday, I was so excited!) which adjusts easily with the push of a button to ensure they’re strapped in securely.
The covers are removable and washable, which is a good thing since the Wee Man recently managed to grab a fromage frais from a shopping bag and paint himself, the seat and most of the back of the car with it….they’re a bit fiddly to get back on again but it gets easier with practice (something we’ve had a lot of thanks to potty training too!)
It’s nice and high up too, meaning that Bubby D will be able to have a much better view out of the window than she does right now. It is a pretty big seat, but it will fit in surprisingly small spaces – we used to have it in the back seat of our Hyundai Getz comfortably until we got the family wagon that we travel around in now. It’s quite heavy, but given that it’s probably not a seat you’ll be taking in and out of your car a lot that’s not a big problem; and when you do need to put it back in your car it’s very easy to install.
It’s well padded with a generous moveable headrest, and the Wee Man never has any problem falling asleep comfortably in it on the drive home from his afternoon swimming class.
I’ve no doubt that Bubby D will enjoy using it equally as much – and it’s much more escape proof so on top of the much safer rearfacing aspect, that’s peace of mind for me too.
Now I just need to find an equally good new seat for the Wee Man!