About the Apramo All Stage
Age suitability: from birth to 36kg
Colours: Chilli Red, Midnight Black, Slate Grey, Royal Blue
Key features: Rearward facing to 18kg, swivel action, 4 recline positions, 16-position headrest
Apramo has been designing car seats since 2008, and its latest All-Stage seat seems to be an upgrade of its Apramo One. Priced at £389 it is certainly at the more expensive end of the market, but you technically shouldn’t have to buy another car seat for years.
When you compare it to the Joie Stages seat for around £100-£135 it’s expensive, but the Joie is not an Isofix seat and doesn’t swivel. It is also sometimes compared to the Cybex Pallas M Fix which has an RRP of £260, but retails between £140 and £180 and features the innovative safety cushion rather than the 5-point harness.
There are also some significantly more expensive car seats that fulfill similar functions, such as the Britax Römer Dualfix M i-Size, which is engineered in line with the new i-Size regulations.
I have 17-month-old twins and a 3 year old, so fitting them all safely, comfortably and legally in the back has been a challenge – one that started with us having to change our car as soon as we discovered twins were on the way – a sore subject after just buying a brand new BMW only to find, as with most cars, the middle seat is only a ‘half’ seat and won’t fit a baby car seat.
Despite it taking hours to actually get everyone out of the house, I do make sure we go somewhere every day so having the right car seats is important to me – obviously for safety reasons, but also for how easy and quick they are to use. I don’t have time to waste messing about with awkward seatbelts when 1, 2 or 3 of my young children are crying. Or it’s pouring with rain.
When we first took the All Stage out of the box I was impressed. It looked like a sturdy car seat that had a lot of functions.
A Group 0+/1/2/3 car seat, what’s the best age child for this particular car seat and why?
I’m using this car seat for 1 of my 17-month-old twins, who I like to have still rearward-facing. I’ve positioned it on the edge of the seat row behind the passenger seat.
As an All Stage car seat, the Apramo can be used from birth with full recline, and has a newborn insert to provide an extra secure fit.
Once you remove this, it can be used for older babies still rearward facing up until 18kg which is approximately 4 years old.
However, there is no way I would have a 4 year old in this seat rearward facing, whatever the manufacturers say it can do. Isaac, the twin baby that is using it, already looks uncomfortable. His feet are in a strange position, so I can see me changing it soon.
This seat will adapt as your child grows, so not only can you use it forward facing, with reclining positions, but you can change the headrest (it has 16 height positions) as your child gets taller. They eventually go from using the five-point harness, to using the car seat belt.
With so many ages catered for – is it confusing to use the car seat in the correct mode for your child?
The instructions are pretty straightforward to follow so you know how to use this seat for what age. You also need to use a bit of common sense and know the law on when they must be rearward facing until.
For a newborn, use the insert and have it at a full recline rearward facing, as they grow remove the insert and recline it as you see fit for the comfort of your baby, still rearward facing for as long as you like – it’s possible to keep them rear facing in this seat until they are 18kg (4 years old).
When you do turn them around they will still use the 5-point harness from 15kg -25kg, and then can use the car seatbelt from 22kg to 36kg.
How does it install in the car?
It can be installed in the car using Isofix points with a top tether belt attached to your car’s seat, or by using the car’s 3-point seatbelt. I didn’t particularly like the top tether belt. I didn’t feel it was a necessary addition to the design. No other car seats I’ve come across that use Isofix need it, so why this one? I thought that was the whole point of having Isofix.
Does it feel secure once in place?
Yes it does.
Can it face rearward?
Yes the All Stage can be rearward and forward facing, and has the 360 degree rotation action so can go from one to the other easily, within seconds.
How useful and easy-to-use is the swivel function?
I can’t use the swivel function because my middle car seat is in the way so there isn’t room. The joys of having to have 3 car seats in the back of your car! But I tested it without the middle seat in, and it’s really easy. You just press the lever below in and move the seat. It would make getting your child in and out so much easier – and is, I would say, the main reason for the price tag on this product. I’ve used the Cybex Sirona for my oldest child which swivels and it was brilliant.
How is strapping your child in? How comfortable is the harness?
This is where I have to say I don’t like this car seat. I find it incredibly annoying to strap Isaac in. The straps flop to the bottom of the seat, including the buckle and its padding, and no matter how many times you try to move them out of the way (at the same time as holding a baby!) before placing your baby in, it doesn’t work. So you end up with them sitting on both straps and the buckle – uncomfortable for him, and annoying for both of you having to them pull them out from underneath him to then attempt to strap him in.
I’ve used car seats before that have magnets to hold the straps to either side and it’s only now I’m using the All Stage without them that I realise how amazing they are.
The other thing I didn’t like about this, was actually buckling Isaac in. It’s a 5-point harness and the parts fit together seemingly easily. But when you go to insert it into the buckle, every time I’ve found the bottom bit of the buckle is too far down into the surrounding cushioning so it nudges it and it knocks the buckle apart again.
It may sound like a small issue, but it is massively annoying when all you want to do is get a crying/hungry/sleepy baby in and home and you’ve got to mess around with the straps and buckle. I’ve also found that the straps twist really easily, and you can’t pull them to loosen/tighten them without pressing in a button. So there is nothing about the entire thing that is easy.
What do you think of the design?
I like the design of the seat, it seems comfortable and the swivel feature is great (if you have the room to use it), but I definitely don’t like the design of the straps and the buckle. I think they could have easily been made to attach to the sides so they’re not annoyingly stuck under your baby. And I don’t like the top tether belt.
Does it feel sturdy?
What’s the headrest like?
I like the headrest. It has 16 different positions so easily adapts to fit a growing child. It can be adjusted without removing the seat from the car and seems comfortable.
Are there different seat positions?
Obviously the seat can be positioned rearward or forward facing, and it has five different recline positions.
How comfortable is it for your child?
Isaac falls asleep easily in the All Stage so it must be comfortable.
Tell us about its main safety features.
One of the main safety features is that you can keep your child rearward facing for an extended time – up to 18kg which is when they are about 4 years old. We’ve all heard about how much safer it is to have them rearward facing, although I’ve never met a 4 year old who would be happy to be sitting that way.
To be able to install the seat with Isofix is a great safety feature as far as I’m concerned, although as I’ve mentioned, I do question the need for the top tether belt if you’re using Isofix.
Another safety feature is that its buckle has an integrated parental alert. It basically beeps when you undo it. Not necessarily useful for a 17 month old, but is a great feature for when your child is older and could potentially start tinkering with the buckle. It would alert you immediately if they manage to undo it.
What do you think of the size of the car seat?
For an all-singing, all-dancing car seat it isn’t ridiculously heavy like some are. Obviously it’s quite bulky but it’s not too much of a job to swap between cars. One of the design features is that it’s lightweight, and that’s noticeable.
Will your children fit in it until they are 12 years?
I’m not totally convinced they will be comfortable in it until they are 12, especially seeing as all my boys are tall for their age, but who knows. They will happily be in it until they are 8 or 9, using a normal car seatbelt by then. But I am happy to be proved wrong and hopefully they will be in it until they are 12 – to save buying another seat!
How suitable is it from birth – would you be happy using it with a newborn?
I didn’t use this seat from birth, but I would be happy to. Especially with the swivel action, it would make it incredibly easy to get your baby in and out of it. It’s easy to clean as all the material covers are removable.
The downside to using it for a newborn is that it isn’t travel system compatible as a lot of mums (me definitely included) like, so you wouldn’t be able to put the seat on a buggy or take it into your home.
What feature do you like most in the car seat?
I love the fact that this car seat can swivel, and to me it would be the one reason for buying it. Ironically, though, I can’t use the swivel feature!
Is it value for money?
This car seat is among the most expensive on the market. But the fact that it can be used from newborn to the age of 12 potentially, AND it swivels making it easier for you to get your child in and out, to me does make it value for money. There are other seats on the market that do similar things for less money, but there isn’t anything much cheaper that does all of them.
How easy was the car seat to assemble?
The seat was relatively simple to put together and the instructions were useful. The only thing that was trickier to understand was the top tether belt. We needed to find a video online to understand that.
Are there any accessories needed or available?
Apramo sells lots of different car seat accessories such as mirrors, protectors, travel bags etc, but you don’t need anything extra for this seat.
Who is this car seat best for?
If you want to use a car seat on your buggy then there’s no point in getting this car seat for your newborn, but it is a great next stage one once they outgrow their Group 0 car seat. I think they could easily use this one rearward facing, then forward facing for many years, and you’d not need to buy anything else.
What do you wish you had known before you got it?
How annoying the straps are to use!
Would you recommend this car seat?
If you’ve got the patience of a saint and all the time in the world to mess around with the straps to get your baby in (which I don’t think any mum has to be honest), then yes. I personally have better things to do than spend at least 5 minutes securing my child into a car seat that should only (and with other seats does) take 30 seconds, so no I wouldn’t recommend it based on the harness alone.
On paper this car seat has everything you need, especially if you want something that will last you years without having to buy anything else, and want the amazing feature of the swivel action.
In reality, I found it hard to strap my baby into it, and this has gone on for weeks, it’s not just a case of me not having the ‘knack’. So based entirely on that, I don’t like it and wouldn’t recommend it.
Whether that’s fair or not, I don’t know. But I’m a very busy mum of 3 children under the age of 3. There are a lot of things in my chaotic life with my kids that I have to put up with for a while – an annoying car seat, isn’t one of them.
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